The highest-ranking Democrat in public office in Florida has said she will not comply with Gov. Ron DeSantis’s wish for flags to be flown at half mast honoring Rush Limbaugh, the far-right radio “shock athlete” who died last week of cancer. .
“We will not celebrate hate speech, intolerance and division,” State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement Monday.
On Tuesday, she also said she was close to declaring herself a candidate for governor next year.
Limbaugh died last Wednesday at age 70. Two days later, DeSantis said he would order the flags to be lowered.
Fried said: “Lowering the flag of the United States of America to half mast is a sacred honor that honors fallen heroes and patriots.
“It is not a partisan political tool. Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to ignore the governor’s next order to lower the flags for Mr. Limbaugh, because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry and division. “
Limbaugh, who lived in Florida, rose to prominence as one of the harshest voices on the American right, with his invective directed at women, African Americans, LGBTQ Americans and more. Last year, Donald Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Friday, fried tweeted: “Governor DeSantis is lowering the Florida flags to half mast for Rush Limbaugh. But he had no words for Congressman John Lewis. Priorities “.
Lewis of Georgia was a leading figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s who served with distinction in Congress. He died last year and was very sorry.
On Tuesday, Fried spoke to CNN.
“The American flag must not be used and cannot be used as political support by Governor DeSantis,” he said. “He’s doing everything he can to honor a radio host who spent his entire career talking about hate speech and talking about bigotry, division and conspiracy theories.”
Fried said there are no penalties for failing to comply with an order to lower flags, adding: “We don’t want to penalize someone for their beliefs.”
He was also asked if he planned to compete against DeSantis in 2022.
“Every day,” he said, “it is becoming clearer that we have to get rid of Governor De Santis. And as the only statewide elected Democrat in the state of Florida, there are many people who come up to me and tell me that I am one of our best shooters.
“So we are certainly looking into it. But once again it becomes clear every day that we need to … end this hatred in our state. So it’s close to a yes. “