Florida Phoenix | By Laura Cassels | July 14, 2022
Florida’s homegrown “Moms For Liberty” activist group, now a national force for conservative politics, especially education politics, convenes this weekend in a Tampa hotel for a summit featuring prominent Florida Republicans and former members of Donald Trump’s administration.
In a hotel next door, Florida Democrats will gather for “Leadership Blue 2022” to strategize on mobilizing volunteers, donors and voters around Democratic issues including reproductive rights under attack in Florida.
Keynote speakers at the two events include Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B Pritzker. Both are running for re-election in their respective states, and both are considered potential contenders for the 2024 presidential race.
Moms For Liberty was launched by conservative Florida professionals who are current or former members of local school boards with connections to top state and national Republicans, according to LinkedIn profiles and Florida media reports.
The group advocates for “parents’ rights” to trump school-board decisions in divisive issues such as mask mandates in school, book bans, American race history, and gender identification.
Bridget Ziegler, married to the vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Christian Ziegler, has been instrumental in Moms For Liberty in Florida. She’s a member of the Sarasota County School Board, where she mustered opponents of mask mandates and other regulation in August 2021 to fight the board’s emergency decision to temporarily require masking in schools amid a surge in COVID-19 infections as the school year opened.
The group’s keynote speakers this weekend include former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a proponent of school choice and school vouchers who served in Trump’s Cabinet until she resigned the day after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the nation’s Capitol, as outlined by the Wall Street Journal and other national news organizations.
Another is Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who ran for the presidency in 2016, then dropped out and endorsed Trump. Carson served as Trump’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development until the last day of Trump’s term, on Jan. 20, 2021, as outlined by the New York Times and other national news organizations.
The Democrats’ keynote speaker, Gov. Pritzker, was spotlighted on July 4 when he reacted with fury after a gunman with an automatic style rifle opened fire on a parade in Highland Park, killing seven people and wounding dozens more.
Pritzker has since called for a federal ban on certain semi-automatic weapons, and he attended the White House ceremony for the signing of bipartisan gun-safety reforms including expanded pre-purchase background checks, as outlined by the Chicago Tribune and other news organizations. He also supports abortion rights, which are under attack in Florida and other Republican-controlled states following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the historic Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.
Since July 1, Florida has banned abortions beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions for rape and incest.