On Tuesday, January 16, 2024, floridapolitics.com reported that Monique Worrell, the former State Attorney for Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, formally kicked off her campaign to regain the position. Worrell is seeking to undo her controversial suspension by Governor Ron DeSantis and have voters return her to office.
Alabnews previously reported that in August 2023, DeSantis removed Worrell from her elected role, citing claims of negligence and incompetence. He accused her of failing to adequately prosecute certain crimes and issue lenient sentences. However, Worrell maintained her suspension was politically motivated, as the Governor disagreed with her progressive criminal justice reforms.
The Orlando Democrat made history in 2020 as the first Black woman State Attorney for Orange and Osceola counties. In that role, she aimed to reduce mass incarceration and implemented programs to curb the school-to-prison pipeline. But Worrell faced criticism from DeSantis and some local law enforcement over prosecution rates.
Like fellow suspended Florida prosecutor Andrew Warren, Worrell challenged her removal in court. But while Warren opted not to seek reelection, Worrell formally launched a campaign to regain her old position. In announcing her bid, Worrell highlighted testimony from victims praising her record and promised to continue reforms.
If re-elected, Worrell would confront the same leadership that dismissed her. An appellate court recently heard Warren’s case and suggested DeSantis’ rhetoric indicated political motivations for the suspensions. But Warren remains out of office as his lawsuit progresses.
Worrell faces Republican candidate Seth Hyman in the election. Her legal challenge of the suspension also remains pending. The closely watched race in the Democratic-leaning region could impact the debate around the separation of powers between prosecutors and governors. It also holds ramifications for DeSantis’ agenda and presidential ambitions, as Worrell vows to counter what she calls interference in the criminal justice system.