DeSantis taps state rep. to replace outgoing secretary of state

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 5:16 PM EDT
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Florida has a new secretary of state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis tapped Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, Friday afternoon.

The change comes after current Secretary of State Laurel Lee announced her resignation Thursday.

In her departure letter, Lee said she would be out as of May 16, not sharing a reason for her departure.

The former Hillsborough Circuit Court judge thanked the governor for his support during her relatively short time as the state's chief election official. Lee took the job in 2019.

"I am grateful for your support throughout my tenure, and I am honored to have been part of your vision for our state," Lee wrote to DeSantis. "I will continue to seek what's best for the citizens of Florida and will always be proud of what we accomplished together."

Lee oversaw the 2020 election, which the governor hailed as a success.

Florida quickly counted an unprecedented pile of mail-in votes, getting a result before the night was through. Widespread voter fraud was nonexistent.

Critics have knocked Lee for supporting DeSantis' voter integrity policies. The most recent creates an office of election crimes to investigate alleged fraud. Opponents consider it intimidating and unneeded.

A run for Congress could be in her future, pundits believe. Lee has yet to make a formal announcement.

It'll be up to her successor, Byrd, to follow through with new election laws and navigate Florida through a contentious midterm election.

The Neptune Beach republican is an attorney and was heavily involved in this year's redistricting plans. He's also a supporter of the governor's new congressional maps.

In a statement, DeSantis called Byrd an "ally of freedom and democracy."

"I am confident he will carry that mission forward as Secretary of State," DeSantis said. "I look forward to his successes ensuring Florida's elections remain safe, secure, and well-administered."

Under state rules, Byrd will be allowed to serve but, eventually, need confirmation by the Florida Senate.

In a statement, he praised the governor and gave an indication of his goals for the future.

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida has led the way on election security and preserving freedom for its residents," Byrd said. "As Secretary of State, I will make sure Florida continues to have secure elections and that we protect the freedom of our citizens in the face of big-tech censorship and ever-growing cybersecurity threats."

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