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Polk Co. mayor plans to lobby lawmakers against renaming Florida highway after Trump

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The election may finally be behind us but a new potentially polarizing vote remains in the Sunshine State.

Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Lake County) plans to file an amendment to rename U.S. 27 “President Donald J. Trump Highway.”

The Florida portion of U.S. 27 is nearly 500 miles long and runs from Tallahassee to Miami. It slices straight through cities and towns on the eastern side of Polk County including Lake Wales, Haines City, Frostproof and Davenport.

“I think Donald Trump is one of the greatest presidents in American history and so he should be honored for that. Additionally, he’s a Floridian. He lives right here in Florida,” said Rep. Sabatini.

Sabatini plans to file the name change as an amendment to a larger transportation bill.

He expects a vote in the next few months.

Sabatini signals he views the vote as a way to delineate which Republicans in the state are with the former president and which ones are against him.

“I think the only thing standing in the way of this bill passing would be RINO Republicans,” he said. “We have a Trump-supporting governor, Senate, Republican House, Republican everything. The only Republicans that would kill this bill are those who despise and hate Donald Trump.”

Some portions of the highway are already renamed Claude Pepper Memorial Highway. Sabatini told The Ledger “entities are commonly named for more than one person.”

Sabatini tells 8 On Your Side he does not plan to take into consideration the viewpoints of mayors in the cities that would be affected.

“Why would we want to tie ourselves to such a legacy?” asked Lake Wales Mayor Gene Fultz.

Fultz plans to lobby state lawmakers to vote against the plan.

“Our voice needs to be heard,” he said. “Hopefully they will hear the outcry of the citizens that are part of their constituency and do the right thing.”

He considers President Trump, who was impeached twice, to be the worst president in U.S. history.

Mayor Fultz points to a lack of leadership during the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. Capitol riots on Jan. 6.

“Anyone that encourages an insurrection at the nation’s capital with deaths involved, I would say, is not someone that I would want to hitch my wagon to,” he said.

8 On Your Side reached out to Rep. Melony Bell and Sen. Kelli Stargel’s offices and has not heard back.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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