Nikki Fried embraces role as Ron DeSantis’ counterweight
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried

Fried's fundraiser was more than an update on FDACS.

As Florida’s lone statewide elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is the Democratic Party’s counterweight against Gov. Ron DeSantis.

But the first-term Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services told supporters during a Zoom fundraiser Thursday that her public opposition to the Governor’s pandemic response “was not how (she) wanted to start this year.”

“I’ve always put state before party,” Fried said. “This has not been about partisan politics. This is about having a voice of reason, listening to the experts, and trying to make sure that our state survives, that our economy is back on track stronger than ever.”

Still, the Commissioner described herself as the Florida Democratic Party’s counter to DeSantis amid the pandemic after “seeing from day one that he wasn’t listening to the experts, wasn’t listening to the health care industry, really only cared about one person’s opinion, and that’s Donald Trump.”

The last few months have seen Fried clash with the Governor, whose leadership she called a “complete disaster,” on more than just policy. She’s used the rare Cabinet meetings as a platform to criticize the Governor’s COVID-19 response, launched a public service campaign competing with DeSantis’ campaigns and likened the Republican Party of Florida to the Minneapolis police officers who watched George Floyd die.

Although she didn’t mention the possibility during her “Nik at Night” conversation alongside fiance Jake Bergmann, she has floated the possibility of running against DeSantis in 2022.

With the COVID-19 outbreaks subsiding this month, DeSantis used this week to make several stops to promote ways life is returning to normal, including at theme parks. But Fried had another counter lined up against the Governor’s latest push.

“Just because Disney is open doesn’t mean you should go to Disney,” she said. “Just make sure that you’re doing those small steps and that there’s regulations on a local level that are being enforced.”

Tourism, Fried noted, is normally Florida’s number one economic driver. However, tourism has fallen behind the agriculture industry, which remains a necessity.

“Who’s going to come to the state of Florida if we don’t have this under control?” she asked.

Although her role as de facto leader of the minority party doesn’t carry much power in the state, she was able to celebrate a win Thursday. After nearly four years of waiting, the Department of Health has outlined rules for manufacturing edible marijuana products.

“It is a huge win for so many of our patients that are needing this as an alternative means to get their medicine,” Fried said.

Her role as the state’s top Democrat has made her an important surrogate for Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden. Ahead of the Republican National Convention’s fourth night, the Commissioner had to squeeze in a jab across the aisle at Republicans’ warnings against socialism, defunding the police, and law and order.

“The things that are coming out of the convention are just absolutely ludicrous,” Fried said. “I feel like I’m watching some bad Twilight Zone movie.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    August 28, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Along side the married man who is her fiancé , the man who beats her. The man who makes money from cannabis which Fried tried to have her office oversee. She puts her ambition before everything, including the state. Her smug face in the photo is who she is

    • James Robert Miles

      August 28, 2020 at 7:49 am

      Obviously, Trump must have grabbed you by the pu$$y and you fell in love!

      • Harold Finch

        August 28, 2020 at 4:17 pm

        And Biden grabbed you by the dick and you fell in love!!


    August 28, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    nasty talk

Comments are closed.


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