TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — An elected prosecutor in Florida who was suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis after he signed a statement opposing abortion prosecutions said Monday that he won’t seek reelection because he believes the Florida governor would suspend him again if he won the race.
Andrew Warren said in a video posted to social media that he still planned to continue his legal battle challenging his suspension as state attorney in the Tampa area even if he won’t seek re-election.
At the time of the suspension in 2022, DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, accused Warren of neglect of duty and incompetence after the Democratic state attorney signed statements, along with other prosecutors across the U.S., opposing criminal charges against abortion providers or women seeking abortions. Warren also said he wouldn’t prosecute people for providing gender-affirming health care, and his office’s policies didn’t charge people with some minor crimes.
Florida had a 15-week abortion ban at the time, and DeSantis last year signed into law a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. DeSantis also championed legislation that banned transgender minors from receiving puberty blockers, but a federal judge has blocked portions of the new law.
DeSantis appointed Republican Suzy Lopez to replace Warren in August 2022. She is now the only person running for that office.
If he ran again, won and then was suspended again, it would create too much uncertainty for the office, so he decided to “take one for the team and not run,” Warren said Monday.
“I have been planning to run for re-election since the day I was suspended, but the governor has made clear that he does not care about the will of the voters or our democracy, and that he is willing to break state and federal law to keep me from serving as state attorney,” Warren said. “I care about the State Attorney’s Office and this community too much to have that cloud of uncertainty hanging over us.”
Warren’s suspension was the first one made by the Republican governor involving Democratic state attorneys in two of Florida’s most populous metro areas. Last year, DeSantis suspended Monique Worrell, who was the state attorney for the Orlando area. Worrell is challenging the decision before the Florida Supreme Court.
Last year, the Florida Supreme Court refused to reinstate Warren, saying he had waited too long to file a petition.
Warren also challenged his removal in federal court, where he said that DeSantis punished him for being a dissenting voice, violating his constitutional right to free speech, and nullifying the election that brought Warren to office. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, in dismissing Warren’s lawsuit, wrote that federal law prevents him from returning to the prosecutor to office. Warren has appealed that decision.
The Associated Press