Charlie Crist dismisses argument he can’t beat Nikki Fried in 2022 Primary
Charlie Crist goes to bat for hotel workers.

Crist Jax vax
Crist focused on DeSantis in his comments.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried‘s campaign has been consistent in its messaging: Charlie Crist can’t win.

The most recent salvo came from Fried consultant Kevin Cate, who predicted in a memo that Fried would win the 2022 Primary by double digits.

Crist, when asked about that prediction Thursday in Jacksonville as he toured a mobile vaccination site, declined to respond directly to Cate’s critiques.

“I don’t really pay attention to it. I listen to the people, and I see what’s in their eyes, and I know they want help. And I know they want a Governor who really cares about them, instead of his political future,” Crist said, referring to Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely viewed as a possible presidential candidate in 2024.

“Which is exactly what DeSantis is doing. He’s running for President. He’s forgetting Floridians,” Crist said.

“In fact, he’s more focused on Iowa voters than he is on our fellow Floridians, and that breaks my heart,” Crist asserted. “Florida’s special. She’s not a stepping stone.”

Cate, for his part, expects Fried will be voters’ choice as polling evolves.

“You’ve got the only statewide elected Democrat since 2012 versus a former Republican Governor now Democratic Congressman. I don’t need or want to say more about this because I like Charlie and think Democrats would be well served if he stayed in his highly competitive swing congressional seat. But if this race is still competitive next year, it doesn’t take a political genius to understand how that scenario turns out,” Cate said.

Crist may not pay attention to Cate’s musings, but he does pay attention to polls, and a selling point has been that he, not Fried, can win.

“Recently we polled ahead of the Governor,” Crist told more than 100 people on a Duval Democratic Party monthly call, referring to a survey from St. Pete Polls that showed Crist up 45%-44%, within the poll’s margin of error.

“I haven’t been on a statewide ballot in seven years but I’m polling ahead of him,” Crist said.

Polling of head-to-head races between potential Democratic nominees and DeSantis has been all over the place, with results widely varied depending on the pollster, suggesting it will be some time before these metrics provide clarity.

Fried’s campaign has been aggressive scoring earned media, meanwhile. She has stepped up her press conferences as a foil to DeSantis on COVID-19 response, and her campaign estimates significant earned media value for those appearances.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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