Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Nikki Fried launches bid for Florida Democratic chair
Former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is the latest Florida Democrat to announce a bid for state party chair.
Florida Democrats are slated to pick their new leader at a meeting in Maitland on Feb. 25.
“We either fight like hell against rightwing extremism or accept irrelevance and oppression,” Fried wrote Monday on Twitter. “I choose to fight.”
Fried, 45, was the lone Democrat in statewide office after her narrow victory in 2018. She was a constant critic of Gov. Ron DeSantis both in Cabinet meetings and on social media.
But her bid for the Democratic nomination for governor never seemed to get off the ground, and she lost by almost 25 percentage points to then-U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in the August primary.
Crist’s 19-point loss to DeSantis in November and Democratic losses up and down the ticket in Florida led party chair Manny Diaz to resign last month just two years into his four-year term.
Already running for the spot are former state Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami, who briefly ran against Fried and Crist for governor but pulled out early to make an unsuccessful bid for Congress; Broward County party chair Rick Hoye; and consultant Alex Berrios.
“My decision is not one made lightly, it comes after months of listening to friends, advisors and Democrats across the state,” she said in a statement. “Florida Democratic Party Chair was not the path I had originally envisioned for myself, but too much is at stake to sit on the sidelines — from women’s rights, economic opportunity and climate change to affordable housing, protecting our Democracy and education.”
She added she was running for chair “in the spirit of trying ‘something new.’ ”
Florida Democrats face major challenges going forward, with unfavorable congressional and legislative maps, no statewide positions and its first-ever deficit to Republicans in voter registration.
The Democrats’ fundraising gap with the GOP is also expected to widen as Florida’s swing-state status recedes and national donors begin to look towards other states.
Fried said the party needs to be rebuilt “from the ground up,” adding the familiar refrain that Democrats need to do better in voter registration and recruitment.
Fried unveiled a list of endorsements largely made up of state committee members, who are local officials chosen by county parties. Those include Osceola County’s Casmore Shaw and Lake County’s Stuart Klatte.
Taddeo has endorsements from legislators including state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, and state Sens. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, and Victor Torres, D-Kissimmee.
Fried said her public endorsements account for nearly two-thirds of the vote needed to win.