The math and science teacher from Orlando has a clear plan of action to build systems that help Floridians and promises to work only “for the people.”
The first thing Josh Weil—the progressive Democrat running against Marco Rubio for the Florida Senate in 2022—wants you to know about him, is that he is not a career politician looking to maintain the status quo in Washington.
The high school math and science teacher who lives in Orlando with his wife, Anna, who is also a teacher, and their two boys, said he was moved to join the race by his children and students, “who deserve to grow into a society where we care about the facts, the planet, and each other.”
In this, he told The Americano, he stands in stark contrast with Marco Rubio, who according to Weil “since 2017 has been nothing but an obstructionist. He has done nothing but attempt to stop progress, tear down systems throughout the United States, which is the opposite of what we need.”
Bold, Immediate Action
So instead of waiting for others to fix what he sees as a system plagued by obstructionism and self-interest, Weil’s campaign is fueled by the desire to act now.
“We have millions and millions of Americans who need more from their government, and both our senators have been completely in line with the GOP’s obstructionist, non-development policy… [They have been] deregulating things and defunding, unless it comes from their own campaign donors, lobbyists, and special interests,” he said.
In the case of Marco Rubio, one example that speaks volumes, according to Weil, occurred when the Republican incumbent proposed a bill asking for federal assistance for the blue-green algae outbreak in the Gulf of Mexico, now at toxic levels, due to biochemical agents.
“He wrote the bill but introduced it at the end of a long day of session. He read it into record, and that was it. He did nothing to try to get it into committee, to get it reviewed. He did it just so he could say he did it,” Weil said. “There is a clear line of demarcation between what he does for Floridians and what he does for the GOP. He is a party politician. He benefits from keeping things the same.”
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Instead, Weil said he is focused on creating systems that work to help all Americans. The issues in his platform include fixing what he calls the broken Medicare system, with Medicare for All.
“The Affordable Care Act was designed to get Americans insurance,” he said. ”But when you see health plans with $5,000 deductibles, and you know that more than half the families in Florida don’t have $400 saved in case of an emergency, you know that we need Medicare for all.”
He is also committed to the For the People Act, which will “undo the horrible voter suppression bill” that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a few weeks ago, and that according to critics, will make it harder to vote, particularly for people of color.
“This is a state that has more registered Democrats than Republicans, but somehow Republicans have outperformed Democrats, and that’s due to voter suppression,” Weil added.
He believes one way this was accomplished was through “felony disenfranchisement”, which occurs when laws are changed or created to make illegal, something that was legal. He cites DeSantis’ anti protest law as an example.
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“The governor is trying to disenfranchise people by making political protests a felony now. That is a law that specifically targets Democrats and the consequence is that they will lose their right to vote. But every American should have the right to vote.”
To Protect Workers
Weil is also a strong supporter of the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).
“The state has decertified a large number of our unions, to the point where they cannot lobby, support, or fight for their workers effectively, or help them get the type of pay and compensation that they need,” explained Weil, who said he will work to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“The cost for a two-bedroom apartment has gone up 240%. I started working when I was 15 years old making $5.35 an hour. The minimum wage is now $7.50, that is not an increase of 240%. We have a housing crisis because our incomes have not gone up with inflation,” he said, adding that one way governors incentivize businesses to move to Florida, is by telling them they will save on labor.
Weil is also an enthusiastic supporter of the Green New Deal, which he calls “the best jobs bill to come to Congress,” as it would replace 32,000 coal jobs, which he admittedly calls “very sad,” with 50 million jobs in the renewable energy sector.
“But it’s also a climate crisis issue, because [of rising sea levels due to global warming] Florida is going to fall into the ocean if we don’t help the world with climate change.”
Where the Greatest Need Is
As a senator, Weil wants to go “where the greatest need is,” and that includes Latino communities. “We start by helping our labor unions, by making sure that people make enough money to have housing, that everyone has access to high-speed internet, that everyone has clean water, that schools have everything they need to support kids that speak a second language… We make sure that these things are covered and the entire society benefits as a result.”
For all these reasons, Weil is running against two-time Sen. Rubio, establishing a clear difference between himself and the Republican incumbent.
“I want to build systems that help people. Marco Rubio wants to deregulate and obstruct. He works for the people who pay him, which are lobbyists, corporations and special interest groups,” he said. “My campaign does not accept money from any of those. We only accept money from the people, so when I am a US senator, the only ones I’ll be beholden to are the people. I want to serve the people.”