The Hillsborough County Democratic Party will host Florida’s top three Democratic gubernatorial candidates Dec. 11 for the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year — its 2021 Kennedy-King Gala.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Sen. Annette Taddeo will speak at the event. The 2022 candidates will join U.S. Rep. Val Demings, who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
Crist’s campaign reached out to the local party to request a spot on the lineup after reading that Primary competitor Fried would be a featured speaker, according to a report from the Tampa Bay Times. The party agreed to give Crist a moment at the event, and then contacted Taddeo, who also confirmed her attendance.
The fundraiser will be at the Tampa Convention Center as the organization returns to in-person events. It is the local party’s largest fundraiser of the year, with proceeds going to the party’s Victory Fund used to help elect Democratic candidates in Hillsborough County. The event is slated to open at 6 p.m. with a reception, and programming begins at 7 p.m.
Tickets start at $125 and go up to $25,000.
The candidates will likely use their time to appeal to prominent Hillsborough County Democrats and supporters. With less than a year to go before Election Day, the Democratic race to unseat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has Crist and Fried neck-and-neck for the lead in fundraising, with Taddeo working to close the gap.
Fried, who launched her campaign in June, leads the pack in fundraising, with about $3.26 million on hand. That includes more than $414,000 she collected last month between her campaign and political committee, Florida Consumers First.
In October, Crist raked in $625,000 between his campaign and political committee, Friends of Charlie Crist. That brings his total war chest to nearly $3.18 million.
Taddeo, who announced her candidacy for Governor on Oct. 18, holds $627,000 — roughly 20% of what Fried and Crist each have, between her campaign and political committee, Fight Back Florida.