Democratic Nikki Fried has kept the Florida political class guessing for months about a possible statewide run for office.
Florida Politics first reported back in February that the attorney, lobbyist and medical marijuana advocate was considering a late entry into the gubernatorial race. More recently, rumors circulated about Fried mounting a bid for Attorney General — a rumor that has caused heartburn for a Democratic establishment that has all but coalesced around state Rep. Sean Shaw’s candidacy.
Now a newly formed state political committee may put to rest questions about Fried’s future.
Sources close to Fried have confirmed that the Broward County-based political committee, Florida Consumers First, could likely to be the first step toward a bid for Agriculture Commissioner.
Fried’s already said that “Florida Democrats are tired of losing and are looking for a new voice: Someone different, someone who isn’t afraid to speak the truth and is willing to turn the political status quo on its head.”
Fried’s experience working with the medicinal cannabis industry could be the ticket to garnering support from millennials, ag interests and other sectors in her deep-blue South Florida home base.
If she ultimately runs, Fried would face a nominal Democratic primary with two declared, but poorly funded candidates already running. Insiders expect Fried to be a tenacious fundraiser, drawing on relationships in the medical marijuana industry, the lobby corp, the Broward County business and political establishment, and the Florida Bar, where Fried is a longtime leader of the Young Lawyers Division.
“Nikki doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘no’,” said one Tallahassee insider. “She’s going to be a monster fundraiser.”
The Republican primary for Ag Commissioner is fluid, and likely to get nasty before Election Day. Three current or former members of the legislature — Reps. Baxter Troutman and Matt Caldwell, and Sen. Denise Grimsley — as well as retired Army Col. Mike McCalister are all vying for the nomination, without a clear front-runner.
If Fried files to run before the June 22 state qualifying deadline, it would mark the first time in two decades that Democrats have managed to field credible candidates for all three cabinet seats, with Shaw running for Attorney General, and former Sen. Jeremy Ring for CFO.
It would also mark the first time in recent memory that Democrats have felt like something approaching bullish on their chances of making a dent in Republican hegemony on the cabinet.