Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive


More than 100 people lined a St. Petersburg block to protest at state Rep. Jeff Brandes' office Tuesday afternoon, part of the latest round of the "Awake The State" rallies in Florida.They attacked Gov. Rick Scott as much or more than Brandes, who is serving his first term in the Florida House.

The crowd, filled with Democrats, union members, teachers and progressive activists, waved signs -- "Take Jeff to the woodshed" and "Brandes = Scott" over laws crimping public workers, the unemployed, teachers and voting. They delivered a giant, fake report card filled with Ds and Fs on workers rights, women's rights, the environment, jobs and education to the Brandes office door.

"I think if he sees that all of these people are here, he's young enougha nd smart enough to be able to change," said Tom Bedwell, 50, of Gulfport, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, who waved signs with his daughter Rosabella, 8. "He's not so far to the right that he can't come over and move more to the center."

Protestors had everything except Brandes. The office was dark. Reached by phone, Brandes said he was finishing up work in Tallahassee after the session ended Saturday. Learning of the protest, he sent district staff home from the office off Fourth Street N.

"I told my staff to go home. There was no need to expose them to that," said Brandes, who noted that he received few if any personal emails about issues during the session.

Police at the scene reported no problems.

Why there? Brandes represents a swing district. Last year, he defeated Bill Heller, popular among Democrats, last year. The next election is only 18 months away.

"I think I am in a great location and I think I am a freshman legislator that defeated two-term Democrat. They're not happy about that," Brandes said.