Nikki Fried, Florida’s Democratic agriculture commissioner, is vying to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in the fall. Viewed as an up-and-comer in state Democratic politics, Fried, 44, must first find a way to get past Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), who formerly occupied the governor’s mansion as a Republican, in the Democratic primary.
If elected, Fried would become Florida’s first female governor and the first Democrat to hold the office in more than two decades.
Fried has tried to turn the primary into a battle over who is the most electable candidate against DeSantis. She has repeatedly called Crist a “nice guy,” but says Florida “needs a fighter.”
Fried’s pitch: Democrats need to motivate voters with a fiery liberal message — protecting abortion rights, legalizing marijuana and capping skyrocketing rent prices — if the nominee is to stand a chance against DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential contender trying to position himself as the next leader of the nation’s conservative movement.
To help build her case, Fried has been hammering Crist over his previous support for conservative policies. In one video clip, Crist states he is “pro-life” and supports “traditional marriage,” an apparent reference to the debate over same-sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized it in 2015.
In other television ads, Fried blasts Crist for appointing conservatives to the state Supreme Court and pursuing policies as governor that included mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.