MIAMI – Even dead, Rush Limbaugh sent political supporters to their combat zones.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican close to Mr. Limbaugh, the right-wing radio megastar who died last week, said on Tuesday the flags at the State Capitol and two sites in Palm Beach County should be halved . -personal in his memory Wednesday.
This honor is usually reserved for well-known officials, members of the military and law enforcement officials who have died in service. On Monday, for example, Mr DeSantis ordered that the flags be lowered on Tuesday to honor a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy who was fatally struck by a car last week.
But it is also in the governor’s power to issue so-called flag memoranda to commemorate tragedies such as the Parkland School shooting. Mr DeSantis said Friday that Mr Limbaugh, a Florida resident for more than two decades who died in Palm Beach, was an “absolute legend”.
“There isn’t much to say,” the governor added of Mr. Limbaugh. “He was a friend of mine and a great person.”
In a statement Tuesday, Mr. DeSantis cited “Mr. Limbaugh’s service to our nation and our state” and the Presidential Medal of Freedom he received from former President Donald J. Trump. He said the US and state flags should be reduced to half the staff at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, Palm Beach City Hall and the State Capitol in Tallahassee.
Although Mr. DeSantis’ memorandum ultimately did not go statewide, some officials had publicly prepared to challenge his order, setting off the kind of political storm that Mr. Limbaugh himself could have been able to do. provoke during his lifetime.
Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture, who is the only Democrat elected to a statewide post, said on Monday she would refuse to lower flags at state offices under its responsibility. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which she oversees, includes nine regional licensing offices, 38 state forests, and 23 agricultural law enforcement inspection stations.
“The flag is a symbol of our country, representing freedom and patriotism and liberty, and is meant to be lowered to honor those who have served,” Ms. Fried said in an interview on Tuesday, ahead of Mr. DeSantis’ official memorandum. . “Lowering the flag of someone who has spent their entire career talking about hate and intolerance, dividing our country and spitting out conspiracy theories is not how we honor those who fought for our flag.”
A few local mayors had also said they would challenge the governor’s order. Mr. DeSantis’ office did not comment on the rejection.
The shutter marked the start of the 2022 election season in Florida. Ms Fried is considering a gubernatorial candidacy against Mr DeSantis, who is due for re-election. Other Democrats are also weighing the nominations, including U.S. Representative Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg, who served as the state’s Republican governor for a term before leaving the party.
Mr DeSantis, who ran as Mr Trump’s sidekick in 2018, won only about 32,000 votes after a recount. But Mr. Trump, himself now a Palm Beach resident, scored such a victory in November that the state seemed increasingly difficult for Democrats to win back.
Mr DeSantis used his policies during the coronavirus pandemic, including the reopening of schools for in-person teaching in the fall, to start rallying his political base. Indeed, Friday’s event in which he announced he would order the flags to be lowered for Mr. Limbaugh felt more like a rowdy political rally than a press conference, with cheers and standing ovations from the crowd.
Mr DeSantis noted that Mr Limbaugh invited him to his radio show while running for governor.
“I was getting the tar every day fired, and he got me the week before the 2018 election,” he said. “He didn’t have a lot of guests. I have been honored to be on his show on several occasions.
The press conference was held inside a Hilton hotel. Palm Beach County subsequently sent the hotel a letter warning that attendees had been shown in videos and photos not wearing masks, in violation of a local warrant.