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Florida State Capitol flags lowered amid controversy

Flags were at half staff at the State Capitol Wednesday to honor talk show host Rush Limbaugh,...
Flags were at half staff at the State Capitol Wednesday to honor talk show host Rush Limbaugh, but not at any other state-building.(Gray Media)
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 3:58 PM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Flags were at half staff at the State Capitol Wednesday to honor talk show host Rush Limbaugh, but not at any other state-building.

This may be the first time honoring some who has died by lowering flags has taken a political turn. Flags have been lowered 56 times since Governor Ron DeSantis took office. None though has been as controversial as the honor for talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

In a tweet, the lone statewide elected Democrat objected to Limbaugh. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried had vowed to ignore the Governor’s order on buildings and state agricultural areas under her control.

“To lower the flag for an individual who spent his entire life talking hate speech, bigotry, racism, demeaning women, conspiracy theories. That is not what we want to teach the next generation to idolize,” Fried said.

This is the first notable incident where a flag order has spurred such criticism, but some say it may not only be about flags.

Last week Fried posted a video highly critical of the Governor.

“You won’t hear this from Governor DeSantis,” Fried said in the video. “We feel your hurt. Florida can and will do better.”

“I think what you’re really seeing is the opening shot in the Democratic primary,” Former GOP Political Strategist Mac Stipanovich said.

Stipanovich, a longtime GOP Political insider turned Independent, believes Fried has her sights on 2022.

“I think what Nikki’s doing is to signal unequivocally to her potential opponents that she’s going to make the race, and they need to take that into their calculations,” Stipanovich said.

The Flag Protocol posted on the Governor’s Office website mentions only former officials and people considered heroes, but nothing in the protocol prohibits the Governor from honoring someone else.

In addition to Limbaugh, the flags have been lowered four separate times this year for fallen law enforcement officers, Parkland and Holocaust victims, and a deceased mayor.