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Nikki Fried (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Tampa Bay

Nikki Fried endorses Kelly Smith in House District 38 special election

“Kelly Smith will be a fierce and effective advocate for the citizens of Pasco County.”

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — the only statewide elected Democrat — endorsed Kelly Smith in the House District 38 special election in Pasco County.

Smith is a Democrat running against Republican Randy Maggard in the deep red district.

In her announcement Tuesday, Fried praised Smith for her ongoing commitment to East Pasco County and its families.

“Given her proven leadership record and compassionate volunteerism, Kelly Smith will be a fierce and effective advocate for the citizens of Pasco County,” Fried said in a statement. “As I’ve gotten to know her, it is clear that many of Kelly’s community values are drawn from life experience, both personally and professionally.”

Fried also is the first-ever elected woman Agriculture Commissioner and ran primarily on consumer advocacy in her 2018 campaign. 

Fried also praised Smith for her commitment to education.

“As a parent of three children adopted through foster care, Kelly knows firsthand the impact of funding cuts to our public school system and strongly believes that teachers must be paid salaries that reflect their dedication and hard work,” Fried said.

Smith works as a land use planner in East Pasco County. She’s running on a platform of environmental protection, education and eradicating income inequality.

“She devotes countless hours to serving the homeless and hungry in Pasco because she steadfastly believes the state’s economy must work for all Floridians yet sees that it does not,” Fried said.

“As a legislator in Tallahassee, Kelly will not ignore Pasco’s growing income inequality gap and the rising poverty and food insecurity levels facing so many households.”

Smith and Maggard face off June 18. Some voters have already received vote by mail ballots in the race.

Smith said she was proud of Fried’s work as Agriculture Commissioner: “She and I agree that protecting the working people of Florida should be a high priority and I am grateful for her support,” Smith said.  

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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