Todd Carney: Conservative Voters Shouldn’t Buy the Hype on Miami Mayor Francis Suarez

Florida has no shortage of political star power. While Gov. Ron DeSantis is receiving the most attention, many current and former Florida politicians loom large. One politician who is starting to receive more buzz is Francis Suarez, the Republican mayor of Miami. In the last month, Suarez has made the rounds on conservative media to position himself as a star in the making. His increased profile has fueled speculation about his future in Florida – and even nationally. But a closer look at Suarez’s record shows he should have no place in Republican politics, because he will sell out conservative voters.

Suarez’s election as mayor of Miami in 2017 marked an impressive accomplishment. 2017 was a bad year for Republicans, and Miami had become increasingly liberal. But just one year later, Suarez opposed DeSantis’s campaign for governor and endorsed his liberal opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Gillum, of course, later was charged with 21 federal indictments for campaign fund issues and was caught by police in a hotel room with an alleged male escort.

Suarez couldn’t have known of Gillum’s future scandals at the time, but he did know that Gillum supported raising taxes, abolishing ICE, impeaching then President Donald Trump, and restricting gun rights. Gillum was also endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and George Soros. Backing Gillum was not just bad politics on Suarez’s part. Since the governor’s policies effect every Floridian, including those in Miami, it was bad for Suarez’s constituents as well.

During the pandemic, Suarez took a heavy-handed approach. He called on Trump to end all flights to Miami. Suarez instituted a mask mandate in Miami and tore into DeSantis when he prevented local jurisdictions from implementing mask mandates. Suarez even established a police force to enforce his mask mandate. During his Covid crackdown, someone took a photo of Suarez maskless in a crowded restaurant, which drew comparisons to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In 2020, Suarez didn’t vote for Trump, claiming that though he agreed with him on many issues, Trump was “trying to be abrasive or trying to create conflict.” Given the Biden administration’s record on inflation and the lack of support for Cuban dissidents, Suarez committed another major disservice to his constituents.

As DeSantis has entered the national spotlight, Suarez has continued to oppose him. He bought into the fearmongering that DeSantis’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay Bill” would cause discrimination against Florida’s LGBTQ community. He also refused to condemn liberal New York City Mayor Eric Adams’s campaign that encouraged people to leave Florida due to the ludicrous idea that the state is anti-gay.

The missteps continued to pile up for Suarez. He pushed a form of cryptocurrency for Miami that “lost 88 percent of its value in less than a year.” Many people invested in this currency due to Suarez’s endorsement, and they lost a lot of money.

In the last few years, Florida has rightfully gained the reputation as a state that leads the nation in conservative policy. Perhaps due to his political ambitions, Suarez has tried to cash in through editorials in Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal and appearing on Tucker Carlson, where he suggested he helped implement conservative policies. But a deeper look at Suarez’s record shows he’s the type of Republican who will cave on issues conservative voters care about, which is the last thing the conservative movement needs.

Todd Carney is a lawyer and frequent contributor to RealClearPolitics. He earned his juris doctorate from Harvard Law School. This article was originally published by RealClearFlorida and made available via RealClearWire.

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