A major fissure within the Democratic Party has come into focus right here in Florida: the division between anti-abortion, pro-school choice Democrats and pro-abortion, school union-beholden Democrats.
This division, while mainly ideological, is falling out along racial lines. Now we are witnessing an attempt by some Florida Democrats to remove from office three black Democrat incumbents for daring to be true to their conscience and supporting good, bipartisan policy.
“These are all strong Democratic seats, and yet the Democratic incumbents are choosing to not be Democrats,” Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, told the Orlando Sentinel.
According to Eskamani, these legislators are not real Democrats because they are voting wrong on two issues — abortion and school choice — even though they are accurately representing a large swath of their constituencies with those votes.
This is essentially the same group thinking that led Joe Biden to declare that if a black American thinks independently and does not vote for him, then “you ain’t black.” Democrats want all black Americans to fall into line and do exactly as told.
Eskamani is one of the loudest members of the Florida Democrats, a party that seems to be moving toward the intolerant, socialist platform touted by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the national Democrats.
Eskamani and her intolerant crew are uncompromising opponents of any law that might in some way restrict an abortion, even fighting against a basic parental notification and consent bill for underage girls. She also stridently opposes giving parents any choice in their child’s education, even for poor, inner-city minority parents who have no other options if their child is in a failing public school.
She is now actively supporting opponents of three black Democrat incumbents in traditionally Democrat seats: Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville; Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Riviera Beach (Palm Beach County); and Rep. Anika Omphroy, D-Lauderdale Lakes (Broward County).
All three of these legislators voted last session for SB 404, which requires underage girls to obtain the permission of a parent before they can obtain an abortion. All three voted for HB 7067, which expanded voucher programs that use tax credits to pay for scholarships to private schools. That program is heavily used by low-income, minority parents with children in failing schools.
Under the school choice legislation that these legislators are being criticized for supporting, more than 46,000 students could receive vouchers through the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program this year, up from about 18,000 last year. It is one of the few tickets out of dangerous, failing city schools — an option many black parents exercise and rely on to give their children the education they know they deserve.
This Democrat strategy carries major risks for them. Exit polling and a Wall Street Journal article suggests that Gov. Ron DeSantis picked up about 100,000 more votes among black women in his successful 2018 gubernatorial election because they supported school choice.
Black Democrats also tend to be less supportive of legalized abortion. A 2017 Pew Research Center poll found that while 83% of white Democrats support legal abortion, 66% percent of black Democrats do. And regarding elections, 35% of white Democrats say voters should support only candidates who favor legal abortion while only 7% of black Democrats say the same.
It is ironic that the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement are so firmly entrenched in the Democratic Party. Although black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, about 36% of all abortions each year are black babies. I guess black lives matter to Democrats only outside the womb. If Democrats actually want to protect all black lives, they shouldn’t be trying to silence pro-life Democrat incumbents and the constituents they represent in the legislative halls of Tallahassee.
These three legislators seem much more closely aligned with their constituents than hardcore progressives like Eskamani. Attacks like these should further dispel the notion that the Democratic Party has any interest in black Americans beyond their obedience on every issue when it’s time to vote — either in elections or on bills.
It is only a matter of time before more black Americans vote Republican and more black Republicans get elected to office. I look forward to that day.
Rep. Tommy Gregory is a Republican representing District 73, covering Manatee and Sarasota counties.