Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist has a new problem on his hands in his bid to unseat GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis: His running mate, Karla Hernandez-Mats.
She is facing new backlash after videos have surfaced showing her disparaging special needs students as “dysfunctional.”
The issue came up after Hernandez-Mats said during a campaign event in the city of Cape Coral that she is qualified to become Florida lieutenant governor because she was a special education teacher in the past, The Daily Wire reported.
“I’m a teacher, I am a sp-ed teacher, so my major was emotionally-handicapped education, okay? That by itself qualifies me to deal with the dysfunctional legislature,” Hernandez-Mats stated in a video that was first aired by Fox News. “[It’s] a unique set of, uh, you know, skill sets in order to deal with them.”
DISGUSTING: Karla Hernandez-Mats says because she’s a “sped teacher” that makes her qualified to “deal with the dysfunctional Legislature”
Charlie Crist really knows how to pick ‘em! pic.twitter.com/vL61WSObbl
— Brendon Leslie (@BrendonLeslie) September 14, 2022
According to the DeSantis campaign, Crist’s running mate has made the same remark at least three times.
“So, I became a special education,” she said at another event. “My major was emotionally-handicapped education, and so that by itself uniquely makes me qualified to deal with dysfunctional legislators.”
Charlie Crist's running mate, @KarlaforFlorida, really thinks this "joke" at the expense of her special education students is hilarious. So funny she's told it in public at least 3 times
Karla, kids with disabilities are humans…not a punchline to mock your political opponents. pic.twitter.com/UnucICCoqG
— DeSantis War Room (@DeSantisWarRoom) September 14, 2022
Casey DeSantis, the governor’s wife, also slammed Hernandez-Mats for her remarks in a social media post.
“Sickened by callous words from someone who claims to be an advocate for children,” the Florida first lady wrote. “Karla, saying children w/ unique abilities are ‘dysfunctional’ & equating them to political opponents is a new low. I will make it my mission to let all parents know of the ‘hate in your heart.’”
Sickened by callous words from someone who claims to be an advocate for children.
Karla, saying children w/ unique abilities are “dysfunctional” & equating them to political opponents is a new low.
I will make it my mission to let all parents know of the “hate in your heart.”
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) September 14, 2022
As president of the Miami-Dade County teachers union, Hernandez-Mats has a history of making highly controversial remarks, having once claimed that “many in Cuba mourn[ed]” the death of oppressive communist dictator Fidel Castro. Recently, however, she deleted the tweet after it started to become an issue for the Crist campaign.
As for Casey DeSantis, she launched the “Mamas for DeSantis” initiative in late June, in conjunction with her husband’s reelection campaign, to energize Florida’s “moms, grandmas, abuelas, nanas” and have them get involved with the GOP governor’s reelection this year.
“It’s one thing when you come after a mama,” Casey DeSantis said in an interview with The Daily Wire. “It’s another thing if you come after her kids.”