Florida Democrats elected former Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried Saturday to lead the state’s Democratic Party.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that Fried received 52% of the vote for party chairman over several rivals, including former state Sen. Annette Taddeo at a gathering in Maitland, a suburb of Orlando, on Saturday.
“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,” the news outlet reported Fried, a Fort Lauderdale-based lobbyist and attorney, saying Saturday. “We have to unite our diverse voices and refocus on the issues and grassroots organizing that wins elections.”
Fried, the only Democrat elected to state office as agriculture commissioner during Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ first term, left the office after running for governor herself in 2022, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Charlie Crist, a former Florida governor and congressman, 59.8% to 35.3%, according to Ballotpedia.
Crist went on to lose to DeSantis in the general election by 19 points, 59.4% to 40%, marking a historic night for Republicans in the state and leading to the resignation of then-Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz, whom Fried now replaces.
The historic statewide losses for Democrats in the midterms will cause Fried to rebuild the party “from the ground up,” according to the report.
She said in the report that she plans to focus and “rededicate” the party to voter registration, training, and growing its “progressive coalitions.”
Not all Democrats are happy with Fried, however.
Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics reported Thursday that Seminole County Democrats were not pleased that Fried declined to endorse or financially support Democrat Patricia Sigman in her bid in 2020 for a State Senate seat in the 9th District, which she lost to Republican Jason Brodeur by just 7,644 votes.
That county’s party chair, Moira Dictor, told Ogles she was still “offended” by Fried’s inaction.
“She should have and would have known what a great candidate Sigman was,” Dictor said in Ogles’ report. “My understanding was she was privately complimenting her to the rooftops, but would not participate in her campaign or donate and would not publicly come out in support.”
According to the report, a source told Ogles that Sigman asked Fried to endorse her several times, since she was the only elected Democrat in the executive branch and her support would have given the campaign an important boost.
Fried reportedly told Sigman that she hoped she would win the race, but couldn’t endorse her because of a personal friendship with the Republican Brodeur and that she was “sitting out” the campaign.
According to the report, Fried and Brodeur both attended and graduated from the University of Florida in 2003.
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Originally Posted on: https://www.newsmax.com/politics/florida-fried-crist/2023/02/25/id/1110155