The war between Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and state Republicans is no longer quite so one-sided.
Fried, who spent much of the Session maligning an attempted “partisan power grab” targeting her office, has spent much of the post-Session slamming the Governor’s coronavirus response as too little, too late.
On Friday, Republican Party of Florida Chair Joe Gruters fired back with a white-hot salvo, asserting that Fried “should be ashamed” of her “unseemly self-promotion.”
“Nikki Fried should be ashamed. She is pulling the weakest trick in the book at the worst moment by attacking Gov. DeSantis in the midst of a crisis just to score some cheap political points,” Gruters asserted, before posing seemingly rhetorical questions.
“Doesn’t she have an office she should be seeing to instead of using state resources to try to further her political future? Shouldn’t she be trying to accomplish something other than trying to divide Floridians to promote herself?
“In these extraordinary times of breathless media reporting and heated rhetoric from backseat partisans everywhere,” Gruters deemed it “heartening to have the steady hand of Gov. Ron DeSantis at the helm.”
“Instead of inciting panic and uncertainty, Gov. DeSantis and his team are wisely weighing new information each day as he guides us through this pandemic,” Gruters asserted, adding that the Governor “is resolutely leading the state through the coronavirus outbreak with measured, informed, effective actions to protect the health and rights of Floridians.”
Gruters’ comments are a response to an attack Fried lobbed toward the Governor earlier Friday, in which the Commissioner charged DeSantis with “failing to lead.”
“Florida needs leadership now more than ever,” Fried said, “but Governor DeSantis is failing to lead. His safer-at-home order is filled with glaring loopholes as the details emerge.”
She was referencing an executive order this week that issued carveouts from bans on mass gatherings for churches, now seemingly put on the honor system for social distancing guidelines.
Fried also took issue with the unemployment claims system, which has been exposed as critically flawed and incapable of dealing with the hundreds of thousands of Floridians suddenly out of work.
“He’s deflecting responsibility for his unemployment system fiasco, leaving millions of Floridians without the economic help they need indefinitely. At a time when our state most needs steady, accountable, transparent leadership, the Governor is unwilling or unable to provide it. Governor, you need to correct these failures now, before our people and economy are further endangered.”
The Governor did not face the media Friday, with Democrats zeroing in on cataclysmic failures with said unemployment system.
Ironically, Gruters himself took aim at the system this week, saying “someone should go to jail” for its failures, which include a $77 million website approved in 2013 that has collapsed under the weight of too many claims in the collapsed coronavirus economy.
The prospective arrestees, he clarified, would be the contractors hired to build the site.