“He gives sugar to his diabetic base”
According to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Andrew Warren was a prosecutor “woke” who sought to impose the radical program of the billionaire George Soros on Hillsborough County residents. DeSantis suspended him Aug. 4, after Warren said he would refuse to pursue cases involving abortion or gender-related surgeries on children, issues the ambitious governor has crossed paths over in recent months. .
“We’re not going to allow this pathogen that’s been around the country to ignore the law – we’re not going to let this take hold here in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at a press conference.
In conversation, Warren comes across as serious, sharp and upright, about as awake as a pair of Brooks Brothers pleated khakis. “These are labels that the far right throws around to demonize people,” he says. Soros is Jewish, and Republican concern for his political goals has been labeled by many scholars as anti-Semitic. “Woke”, meanwhile, is often used, especially on the right, as a pejorative term to indicate an affiliation with political and social issues of particular importance to black people.
“He gives sugar to his diabetic base,” Warren says of DeSantis. Both men are young, ambitious, opinionated and highly educated. They occupy opposite poles of American public life, and the dispute between them is indicative of a cultural and political climate that shows no signs of cooling.
Warren recalls that he was elected twice by his voters (in 2016 and 2020) and that his dismissal is nothing more than an attempt by DeSantis to increase his standing with conservatives before announcing a run for president in 2024.
“It’s just a purely political game to appeal to his base,” Warren told Yahoo News earlier this week. “So he can add a line to his Iowa stock speech when he runs for president.”
DeSantis and his supporters say the firing was justified because Warren signed an open letter, along with many other liberal prosecutors, saying they “would refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide, or support abortions.” The letter had been published in June, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Until then, DeSantis had already made abortion illegal beyond the 15th week of pregnancy. Progressives fear he intends to make abortion illegal in Florida.
In July, Warren also joined an amicus brief in a Texas case who argued against prosecuting children, or their parents, if those children seek gender transition surgery. Texas banned the practiceand Florida was about to do the same.
For the governor, Warren’s claims about prosecutorial discretion were an affront to the conservative principles he was trying to apply in Florida.
DeSantis viewed him as one of the progressive prosecutors who had gained traction in recent years but faced challenges in their liberal criminal justice policies as crime rose across the country. The perception isn’t entirely incorrect, although Warren isn’t as outspoken as Larry Krasner in Philadelphia or as polarizing as George Gascon in Los Angeles.
But in an increasingly red Florida, he has stood out as a beacon — and lightning rod — of liberalism, and not just when it comes to issues of gender and reproduction. In the executive order announcing Warren’s suspension, the governor’s office also faulted him for refusing to continue police checks of cyclists, a practice according to criminal justice reformers that targets black men.
“I was totally blindsided by this,” Warren said of her firing. He points out that a Florida judge had struck the state’s 15-week abortion law, though he fails to add that the law was reinstated on appeal. He notes that the new rule on sex assignment surgery for children had not been implemented at the time of his public opposition, in the Texas case, to criminalizing the procedure. But it’s only a matter of time before Florida health officials, led by controversial Florida surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo, make this rule final.
As for Warren, he was punished for expressing his opinions – opinions on cases he never got to try. “It’s like being accused of robbing a bank,” he says. “But the governor acknowledges that I didn’t take any money and the bank doesn’t even exist yet.”
In many ways, the battle between DeSantis and Warren — which unfolded on cable news and social media, and will soon be heading to the courtroom — is a symbol of the nation’s divisions over sexuality, crime, and democracy itself.
“It is not about the suspension of an elected official. This is about trying to overthrow democracy in the state of Florida,” Warren told Yahoo News. DeSantis has never spoken out against the baseless, conspiratorial claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump, and he now campaigns with Republican candidates in other states who enthusiastically made this claim.
Warren is suing DeSantis for his dismissal. But even as he lays out his legal case, Warren made a moral argument that DeSantis is no different from the Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol to block Joe Biden from becoming president. “People tried to overturn an election on January 6,” he told Yahoo News. “Well, Ron DeSantis flipped an election on August 4th.”
Taryn Fenske, director of communications for DeSantis, pointed out the constitution of floridawhich gives DeSantis the power to suspend state officials for “incompetence” and other reasons.
“It’s no surprise that Warren, who was suspended for refusing to follow the law, is filing a lawsuit without legal basis challenging his suspension,” Fenske told Yahoo News. “We look forward to responding in court.”
DeSantis has gained popularity with conservatives who believe progressives have taken over American public life, not to mention what’s left of the country’s tattered culture. Highlighting Twitter’s bubbling conservative grievances, he fought against mask mandates and equity programs. Supporters celebrated his administration as “the Free State of Florida,” where onerous coronavirus restrictions and progressive dogma have no traction.
But even some conservatives and libertarians started to worry that DeSantis’ attacks on businesses, educators, and public servants like Warren undermine the kind of economic liberalism he claims to support. His tough tactics have earned him fans on Twitter, but endorsements from people like Alex Jonesthe right-wing media host who spreads conspiracy theories, may not help broaden his national appeal.
Warren says the notion of Florida as an anti-regulatory, free-speech, and free-market haven is about as fanciful as the kingdom of Oz.
“Governor. DeSantis likes to brag about the so-called Free State of Florida,” Warren says. where he went after disney and other “woke companies”, whatever that means. So it was teachers and their ability to talk to students in class. Now he’s going after a public servant.
“It certainly doesn’t seem free to many of us.”