Florida’s Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says she won’t lower flags at state offices under her direction to honor the late conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said Friday he will direct flags be flown at half-staff for Limbaugh, who died of lung cancer on Wednesday at age 70.

Fried said in a statement she will not observe that directive because such an honor should “reflect unity, not division.”

“Lowering to half-staff the flag of the United States of America is a sacred honor that pays respect to fallen heroes and patriots,” Fried said in a prepared statement. “It is not a partisan political tool. Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the Governor’s forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh — because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division.”

Fried’s agency — the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services — oversees numerous state offices, including nine regional licensing offices, 38 state forests and 23 agricultural law enforcement inspection stations.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during Monday’s news briefing that President Joe Biden will direct flags on federal property to be lowered to half-staff to mark 500,000 American deaths in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other Democrats have joined Fried in blasting DeSantis’ directive. Oakland Park Mayor Jane Bolin issued a statement Sunday calling on cities to challenge the planned directive, according to a report on the Florida Politics’ website.

DeSantis hailed Limbaugh as a media legend in a statement he issued this past week. Limbaugh lived in Palm Beach.

“Rush is the GOAT (greatest of all time) — of radio, of conservative media and of inspiring a loyal army of American patriots,” DeSantis said.

Fried is widely seen as a leading contender to challenge DeSantis in next year’s governor’s race. She has not officially announced her candidacy.


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