Florida State Senator Kelli Stargel is one of the least thoughtful, cruelest politicians in the country. The Republican lawmaker spearheaded the state’s 15-week abortion ban, pushed to ban trans girls from playing on the appropriate school sports teams, and was a reliable rubber stamp for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ awful COVID policies.
Now she’s running for Congress, announcing her campaign a week ago.
And the loudest voices against her candidacy aren’t coming from any of the Democrats vying for the same seat. Stargel’s biggest critics… are her own daughters.
28-year-old Hannah Stargel, who’s gay, posted this video to TikTok over the weekend, taking direct aim at her mother’s bigotry:
So… Sen. Kelli Stargel of Florida—the one who just passed the 15-week abortion bill for the state of Florida, which excludes incest and rape—is now running for Congress. This is the same senator who passed the bill saying that trans middle schoolers and high schoolers will have a harder time to play sports in the state of Florida than even in the Olympics.
Considering the fact that Kelli Stargel is my mother, and sent me to a troubled teen facility whenever I was only 15, I don’t think that she really has a right to tell you or anybody else who can and can’t be a mother. Because she wasn’t even a mother to her own children.
This is the same woman who wouldn’t feed me if I didn’t go to church on Sunday. After numerous years of telling me I was hard to love, putting me through tons of years of neglect, putting politics before everything else, and honestly, just being a horrible, horrible person to look up to—is this really somebody you want up in D.C. passing laws for you and your children, telling you what to do with your body?
If I can do anything in my power to make sure that Kelli Stargel does not become a congresswoman from Florida, that would be awesome.
(Hannah elaborated on the line about not eating on Sunday in a separate TikTok, saying that the family would go eat after church, so if she didn’t join them because she felt unsafe at an anti-gay church, she would be left back at home, where food was sparse because her political parents usually stayed near the State Capitol. She wasn’t starving; she just didn’t have many options.)
Hannah told the website Florida Politics that her mom’s candidacy came as a shock since she had previously said she would step away from politics in part because of the toll it took on the family. Oh well. Guess they’re not a priority.
She’s not the only daughter speaking out, either. In 2021, daughter Laura Stargel wrote an essay for the Orlando Sentinel urging Ron DeSantis to veto her mom’s anti-trans sports bill.
I played sports all throughout middle, high school and college without ever coming close to receiving an award or a scholarship. Not once did I stop to consider what gender my teammates were assigned at birth. Instead, I remember the personal and professional growth in my life that I can attribute to my time on the field.
Sport has had such a profound impact on my life that I decided to pursue a career in ensuring everyone has access to sports by eliminating barriers like costs and accessibility, while the state Legislature is more concerned with hypothetical harms than real-world physical and mental-health impacts.
And what does Kelli Stargel have to say about all this? Not much. She put out a short response to Hannah’s video saying, “I love my daughter with all of my heart,” which clearly doesn’t come through in her actions.
Imagine how shitty a parent you have to be to watch your own kids suffer like this, only to ignore their pain while sponsoring legislation leading to more suffering. It takes a conservative Christian to be that pointlessly cruel.
This is the same Kelli Stargel who, in 2018, after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said on the State House floor that “thoughts and prayers are really the only thing that’s gonna stop the evil from within the individual who is taking up their arms to do this kind of a massacre.” She then proceeded to vote against an assault weapons ban… because I guess she thinks Jesus can stop bullets.
Kudos to Hannah and Laura for speaking out. It takes a lot of courage to do it.
But will it make a difference in the GOP primary or the general election? Sadly, no. If Kelli Stargel doesn’t give a damn about her own kids, why would any of the heartless people who vote for her?
That tactic hasn’t worked in the past either. In 2018, one of the most powerful campaign ads I’ve ever seen featured the siblings of Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona urging voters to reject him:
It was a great ad with a powerful twist… but it didn’t change much in a deeply red district. Gosar won that race with nearly 70% of the votes. He was re-elected in 2020 with an even higher margin. He’s only gotten worse since then.
But that doesn’t mean statements like Hannah’s are useless. They send a clear message to anyone who cares: Kelli Stargel doesn’t even have the support of her own family; she sure as hell doesn’t deserve the support of voters.
What’s really sad is that her daughters aren’t asking for much. They just want their mother to be compassionate toward marginalized kids and women who may have become pregnant against their will… but Kelli Stargel refuses to do that because she’d rather kowtow to the Republican base than take her daughters seriously. Hannah said she “stopped communicating with her mother” after she pushed the anti-trans bill just months after Hannah came out to her.
The irony is that Stargel’s campaign website brags about how she’s “fought to prioritize Florida’s families.”
That’s a lie. She doesn’t care about Florida’s families unless they share her Christian bigotry. Everyone else can suffer. Including her own kids.