Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried is staffing up her campaign.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate announced the addition of Aria Branch to serve as campaign legal adviser. Branch comes from the DC law firm Perkins Coie.
Fried also announced Evelyn Pérez-Verdía of We Are Más in South Florida is joining the campaign as a senior adviser on Latino issues.
In a written statement, Fried touted the “diversity” of her new hires.
Fried’s announcement comes as polling shows she is lagging behind the other Democratic gubernatorial challenger, U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist.
Political Matrix/Listener Group released survey results Monday showing Crist leading the race with nearly 41% support compared to Fried’s almost 31%. The remaining 29% of respondents were undecided.
Crist has officially been in the race about a month longer than Fried, and he presumably starts with solid name recognition thanks to being a fixture in Florida politics for over a decade.
But Fried, who announced her campaign at the start of June, is also bringing on three consulting firms. HIT Strategies, MDW Communications and Wildfire Mail will run messaging, digital strategy and direct mail strategy.
“These capable and committed professionals have worked at the highest levels of American politics, helping to win crucial races at every level of the ballot and elect candidates that have made a difference in millions of people’s lives across the nation,” Fried said of the new hires.
But there is still the issue of money, which is hard to ignore given the high cost of media in a populous state like Florida.
Fried’s political committee, relying heavily on small-dollar donors, netted just shy of $215,000 in May and had about $1.65 million on hand as of May 31.
Compare Fried’s fundraising to Crist’s nearly $1.5 million haul for the same month. Crist has attracted several high-dollar donors. His various campaign accounts had about $1.8 million cash on hand as of the end of May.
But both will need to work on catching Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who raised more than $7.5 million last month and is sitting flush with $39 million in his political committee Friends of Ron DeSantis as of the previous month.
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