Suspended Florida Prosecutor Andrew Warren Seeks Reelection Amid Legal Battle

Ousted Florida prosecutor Andrew Warren announces bid to reclaim his job, setting up a high-stakes legal and political battle with Governor DeSantis over abortion and LGBTQ rights.

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Suspended Florida Prosecutor Andrew Warren Seeks Reelection Amid Legal Battle

Suspended Florida Prosecutor Andrew Warren. Credit: Chris Urso/Tampa Bay Times via AP

Andrew Warren, a Florida prosecutor who was suspended by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022, has announced his intention to seek reelection despite his ongoing legal battle with the governor. Warren, a Democrat, was removed from his position as the state attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, which covers Hillsborough County, for refusing to enforce certain state laws, including those related to abortion and transgender healthcare.

Warren's suspension came after he made statements indicating that he would not prosecute cases involving abortion or gender-affirming care for transgender individuals. DeSantis cited these statements as evidence of Warren's "neglect of duty" and "incompetence." However, Warren has argued that his suspension was politically motivated and a violation of his First Amendment rights.

In response to his suspension, Warren filed a federal lawsuit challenging DeSantis's decision. A federal appeals court recently ruled that Warren's statements were protected speech and ordered a lower court to reconsider the case, potentially paving the way for Warren's reinstatement. The case remains pending, and the legal battle between Warren and DeSantis is expected to continue.

Why this matters: The conflict between Warren and DeSantis highlights the ongoing debate over the role of prosecutors in enforcing controversial laws and the extent to which elected officials can remove those who refuse to do so. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the independence of prosecutors and the balance of power between state and local officials.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding his legal case, Warren has decided to run for reelection in 2024. He will face a primary challenge from fellow Democrat Elizabeth Martinez Strauss before potentially taking on the Republican candidate, Hillsborough State Attorney Suzy Lopez, who was appointed by DeSantis to replace Warren. The Florida Democratic Party has expressed support for Warren's decision to run for his old job, stating that the choice should be in the hands of the voters, not the governor.

Warren's campaign has highlighted his accomplishments as Hillsborough County's top prosecutor, including reducing crime by 30% and making the county the safest large county in Florida. However, his opponent's campaign manager has criticized Warren as an "ultra-liberal ideologue" and argued that residents are safer with Lopez, a "career prosecutor." The upcoming election is expected to be closely watched, with abortion rights likely to be a major campaign issue in Florida.

Key Takeaways

  • Florida prosecutor Andrew Warren suspended by Gov. DeSantis for refusing to enforce certain laws
  • Warren files federal lawsuit challenging his suspension, court rules his statements were protected speech
  • Warren announces intention to seek reelection despite ongoing legal battle with DeSantis
  • Warren faces primary challenge from fellow Democrat, potential general election against DeSantis appointee
  • Conflict highlights debate over prosecutors' role in enforcing controversial laws, balance of state-local power