Rep. Al Lawson says new secretary of state Byrd cord bring the former president that of Donald Trump philosophy of electoral lying at the Florida State Department.
republican governor Ron DeSantis earlier this month named Byrd to succeed Laura Lee as Secretary of State. When reporters asked him on Tuesday if he believed the president Joe Biden fairly won the 2020 election, Byrd would only respond that Biden was “certified” as the winner and that he is the president. He also noted electoral “irregularities” in other states.
“What you’re hearing rhetoric coming out of the secretary of state’s office with a new person there is just ridiculous,” said Lawson, a Democrat from Tallahassee. “It’s really ridiculous not to want to admit that there were no problems in the state of Florida.”
Despite Lawson’s characterization, Byrd said Florida’s 2020 election was successful and accurate.
Byrd, a Republican from Neptune Beach who served in the Florida House for more than five years, has come under fire for defending his Board of Education member wife Esther Byrd, for his past comments on social media. She voiced her support for the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters who are trying to prevent the certification of Biden, Proud Boys and other far-right extreme elements. These elements were spurred on by Trump’s repeated and unsubstantiated lie that he won the 2020 presidential election.
The Secretary of State defended his wife’s remarks as recently as sunday.
“You bring in a secretary of state and he comes with this philosophy, he comes with Donald Trump’s philosophy,” Lawson said. “It doesn’t come with the philosophy of supervisors and people in Florida who do it regularly.”
As Secretary of State, Byrd will oversee elections in Florida. It is also responsible for establishing the state Bureau of Election Crimes and Securitya future law enforcement office within the State Department to investigate voter fraud and other election complaints.
Lawson’s comments came after a meeting of the US House Elections Subcommittee was held in Tallahassee to discuss ballot access in Florida.
“It’s time to take the politics out of elections like this,” Lawson said. “It’s not in Florida’s best interest. Florida is a very diverse state and having Trump’s philosophy is just amazing that you see things like that continue.
Lawson, who has served in Congress since 2017, is eligible for re-election in November. However, he has not decided whether he will run again as the North Florida district lines are still fighting their way through the courts.
North Florida could end up with more Republican-friendly district lines, downplaying minority representation in order to conform to DeSantis’ vision of the US Constitution. Still, Lawson is confident the Florida Supreme Court will approve a version of congressional district lines that closely matches those the court instituted in 2015.
“He asked the Supreme Court to say they were wrong,” Lawson said. “It does not make sense.”
Lawson hasn’t ruled out challenging the Republican U.S. Representative. Neal Dun if the Court sides with the Governor’s Office.
“It’s something I would watch,” Lawson said. “I really think I would run for the 5th congressional district.”