As we said in a recent editorial, Byrd must put his partisan political past behind and be a nonpartisan overseer of elections in a state closely divided between Republicans and Democrats with a long history of exceptionally close elections. He as much as said so himself at his first news conference, held in Sandestin Tuesday at the summer conference of Florida election supervisors.
But as a high-level appointee who reports to the most partisan governor in Florida history, Byrd is in a tight spot. After all, he belongs to a party whose members overwhelmingly cling to the myth that victory was stolen from Trump.
He also works for a governor who clearly has his sights set on the White House that Biden occupies. The governor has referred to Biden by the euphemism “Brandon,” and to Democrats as the “Brandon party,” as he did at a well-attended Broward Republican Party fundraising event last week in Weston.
For that reason, we stretched the boundaries of news conference norms a bit Tuesday and asked the same question twice, something rarely done.
Did Biden win fair and square — or not? We shouldn’t even be asking that 18 months after the election, after all those legal challenges were thrown out. But the "big lie" persists in part because too few responsible public officials denounce it.
Byrd had a second chance to set the record straight. He demurred again.
“He was certified as the president and he’s the president of the United States. There were irregularities in certain states,” Byrd said before emphasizing that his chief concern is not Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, but in ensuring another successful election in Florida.
On related matters, Byrd sent strong positive signals. He said it’s important for every eligible voter to register. He emphasized the need for a consistently strong dialogue with county supervisors, who praise Byrd for his accessibility.
We challenged Byrd in a previous editorial to prove us wrong, and that we judged him too hastily, by putting aside partisanship and acting on behalf of all Floridians. Tuesday’s platform was an opportunity to do that, but he fell far short of what Floridians deserve.
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