The Democratic Primary for the 2022 Governor’s race is just over a year away, and polls show the two most well-known candidates, Congressman Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, are taking turns leading the pack.
In a poll among Democratic voters released Thursday, Fried led Crist with 36% support to 33%, with 31% still undecided.
Kevin Cate a media consultant for Fried’s campaign indicated they were surprised to see her polling ahead of Crist, a candidate with strong name recognition, so early in the race.
“It’s always nice to see a lead in a poll, especially from a pollster so highly rated, but it’s still way early, and earlier than we would have anticipated pulling even or ahead of someone running statewide for the seventh time,” Cate said in a written statement.
The survey polled 274 Democratic voters and has a margin of error of 6%, which means the poll doesn’t indicate a solid lead for Fried, but it could still mark a turning point for her. Past polls have shown Crist leading the Primary race.
Polling from St. Pete Polls released just last week showed Crist outperforming Fried in hypothetical match-ups against Gov. Ron DeSantis. That poll also included independent voters, among whom Crist polls well.
But all previous polling was conducted before Fried started her daily COVID-19 briefings, often carried by media outlets across the state amid a dearth of daily COVID-19 communication from DeSantis.
“This is likely a reflection of the statewide leadership of Commissioner Fried during this COVID crisis. We know Democrats want someone who can beat Ron DeSantis, someone who can hold the rigged system accountable, but most importantly, somebody who puts politics aside to get things done for Floridians — and that’s Nikki Fried. She’s qualified, she’s proven, and she’s ready,” read Cate’s statement.
But taking swipes at the Governor’s COVID-19 response seems to be a popular move for both democratic challengers. Crist, not to be outdone by Fried, has been wading into COVID-19 policy from the campaign trail.
Crist announced in a Tweet Thursday all campaign staff must be vaccinated.
To keep our team, volunteers, and supporters healthy, our campaign will be requiring that all staff be vaccinated against COVID. The vaccine is only way we can truly protect our health, schools, and economy, and our team will be proudly doing our part.
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) August 12, 2021
At a campaign event Wednesday Crist said, he’d “do everything differently,” referring to DeSantis’ COVID-19 response. Crist criticized DeSantis for doing too little to persuade Floridians to get vaccinated or to wear masks at indoor gatherings.