Charlie Crist selected Karla Hernandez-Mats as his partner to try and win governor of Florida.
Hernandez-Mats has been an advocate for keeping kids home during the pandemic to keep them safe, the total opposite of Governor Ron DeSantis’ views.
Aubrey Jewett, a Political Science Professor at UCF said, “It’s an outside-the-box choice, a little bit risky.”
Jewett said Crist knows that, but he needs to fire up the Democratic base and clearly believes Hernandez-Mats could do that.
Hernandez-Mats comes with her fair share of controversy.
In 2016 she sent this tweet when Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro died. It reads “A political figure dies at 90. Most in Miami rejoice, and many in Cuban mourn.”
“The way it was written might open it up for a lot of Cubans in south Florida, to think that she’s not sufficiently anti-communist and anti-Castro and that usually, you know, would hurt to hurt a candidate down there,” Jewett said.
Hernandez-Mats was pictured with Wendell Nibbs. CBS Miami reported Nibbs pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexual activity with a child in 2017.
The allegations first surfaced in May of 2016 the same year Hernandez-Mats became president of the United Teachers of Dade.
“Accusations and having some type of degree of relationship can harm candidates, but obviously, we need to know more about the story,” Pavelka said.
Pavelka said Crist’s campaign team had to have known about these issues and still chose her.
Pavelka also said Hernandez-Mats has credibility with Hispanics.
“She’s got a lot of credibility with unions, Hispanics, particularly Hispanics, and south Florida, where republicans have been dominating and doing a lot better the last couple election cycles, and democrats need to sort of recapture that,” Jewett said.
Hernandez is a first-generation American born in Miami of Honduran immigrants. She is also the President of the United Teachers of Dade.
Sandra Pavelka, a Political Science Professor said, “She has been a strong advocate for teachers, a strong advocate for students.”
Pavelka said she sees Hernandez-Mats on the ticket as help for the Crist campaign.
“This is a way for Crist to bring some of the swing voters, bring females bring teachers bring parents over to his side,” Pavelka said.
Especially parents and teachers who do not like how political education has become.
“It really also tries to reverse the narrative of DeSantis, and the Republicans about school and education issues, you know, instead of avoiding them or seeding that and just saying, oh, yeah, the Republicans are gonna win on that,” Jewett said.