Republicans who couldn’t stand the sight of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on stickers can breathe easier at the gas pump.
The Department of Agriculture has continued replacing more labels adorned with the face of the elected official. New stickers still have Fried’s name and office number, but no smile.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis enthusiastically noted the change at one pump with an exclamation-point-laden tweet.
“The new stickers are out!” he wrote. “The new stickers are out! The new stickers are out!”
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) February 17, 2020
The face of Fried caused an uproar in the Florida Capitol, particularly in the House, which threatened to withhold more than $19 million in Department of Agriculture funding until the stickers with a photograph vanished everywhere.
Notably, Agriculture Commissioners have adorned gas station inspection stickers with their own names for decades. But Fried was the first to put a color photograph of herself smiling at Floridians as they pump their gas.
Of course, the change-over to mug-free inspection labels has been going on gradually across the state.
Miami Herald Reporter Samantha Gross made note of the switch at one Tallahassee pump in late January.
Faceless @NikkiFriedFL gas pump stickers spotted in Tally 👀👀👀
House budget released yesterday would require placing more than $19.7 million of @FDACS funds in reserves until plans are in place to replace the stickers with her face (below, for reference) pic.twitter.com/fbwFXoz7Af
— Samantha J. Gross (@samanthajgross) January 31, 2020
It’s unclear how far along in the process the Department of Agriculture is in transitioning to a Fried-face-free tag on pumps.
Demands over decals came as the House looks to reduce the powers of Fried, Florida’s only Democrat holding statewide office. The chamber passed legislation last week to move the Office of Energy out from Fried’s auspices and under the Department of Environmental Protection.
Fried called the proposed reauthorization a “partisan power grab” on the part of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican.
The bickering has agitated Fried.
“This could hold up food and fair ride inspections and stop consumer watchdogs from doing their jobs — risking the health and safety of people across the state,” she tweeted in January.
“This could put lives and careers at risk. And it’s all because of some stickers. It’s juvenile, petty and pathetic.”
Fried regularly is discussed as a potential challenger for the first-term governor in 2022.
Both she and DeSantis came into office after narrow election wins in 2018, both within the margin on mandatory recounts.
Fried beat Republican Matt Caldwell by 6,753 votes, out of more than 8 million ballots cast.
DeSantis beat Democrat Andrew Gillum by 32,463 votes out of 8.1 million ballots cast.