Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo‘s entry into the 2022 Florida gubernatorial race wasn’t exactly a stop-the-presses moment, and one could reasonably ask what took her so long to take the plunge.
Taddeo signaled for months she was thinking about entering the race. Thus, it was no surprise when that signal became official Monday.
However, she has already spotted U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist a nearly six-month head start, and it seems like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has been running forever. Let’s also not forget that Fried has been the only Democrat to win a statewide election since 2006.
While Taddeo delayed, Crist built relationships across the state, particularly in the Panhandle counties. He admitted he more or less blew off votes in deep-red areas in an ill-fated run against Rick Scott for Governor in 2014, and he lost by about 1 percentage point.
Lesson learned. All votes count.
Taddeo, who was Crist’s running mate in 2014, clearly has some catching up to do, and the Aug. 23 Primary next year is only 10 months away. It can happen, of course, because this is Florida, and we learn to expect the unexpected.
Andrew Gillum, remember, wasn’t supposed to beat Gwen Graham in the 2018 Democratic Primary, but he did. And on Election Day that year, Gillum led DeSantis by a fair amount in the polls, but we saw how much that mattered.
Taddeo has some things in her favor, though.
She is from Miami, and that theoretically could drive turnout in the Primary. Taddeo also has a compelling personal story. Her father was an American combat pilot, and while growing up in Colombia, Marxist guerillas attacked her family.
Taddeo also is Florida’s first Latina state Senator. She won a tough election in 2017 after Sen. Frank Artiles resigned over a conversation involving racial slurs.
But she also is a strong supporter of President Joe Biden, whose support is underwater in the state. Republicans routinely target Biden as a socialist, which is a huge negative with many Latinos, and it cut deeply into the Democratic vote there in 2020.
Earlier this year, Taddeo complained that Biden hadn’t pushed back hard enough against that label. She may face that headwind on the campaign trail in her bid to become the state’s first female Governor, as well as the first Latina to hold that office.
In her announcement that she was entering the race, Taddeo said DeSantis’ heavy-handed COVID-19 edicts on Florida schools were the last straw. She has a daughter in the 10th grade.
“When the Governor decided to politicize our kids’ health and well-being, that was one thing too much,” she said.
That’s a big deal now for sure, but it may not have much impact by next August if the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. Even if she navigates that to win the nomination, DeSantis and his massive bankroll will be waiting at the pass.
That’s for later, though.
For now, Taddeo is in the race, and it’s too early to say what impact her entry will have. Democrats can take heart in at least one more thing, though.
The campaign will be all about DeSantis, and now the Dems have another prominent voice to bash him. The only question is, will enough people be listening?