Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried is calling for five statewide debates among candidates in the 2022 Governor’s race following the withdrawal of fellow candidate U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist from a forum in Homestead Saturday.
“It is unconscionable but unsurprising that Charlie Crist would deprive the people of Florida the opportunity to interview him for the highest office in Florida,” Fried’s strategic manager Matthew Van Name said in a statement. “Maybe Charlie is afraid to compare his past policies in criminal justice, affordable housing, education, or a woman’s right to choose, where he has been on the wrong side of all of these issues. It’s a stark comparison to Nikki’s lifelong advocacy. Nikki Fried has been a consistent fighter for the people her entire life.”
The call for debate comes as Crist leads the Democratic field in fundraising, becoming the first to collect more than $1 million in a month. Crist’s haul since entering the race in May now comes to $8.2 million. He closed last month with $5.3 million in cash on hand after expenses. Fried, on the other hand, has collected more than $3.6 million.
Crist previously served a term as Governor as a Republican. He later ran as a Democrat in 2014 against then-Gov. Rick Scott.
“It’s clear Charlie has his own definition of the issues that concern women. So, let’s have a debate whether his pro-life record means pro-choice. Let’s debate whether his pro-drilling for oil off our beaches record means anti-drilling. Let’s debate whether his anti-LGBTQ+ record is actually pro-LGBTQ+ rights. Let’s debate if criminal justice reform means supporting the 85% mandatory minimum rule and chain gangs. Let’s debate whether a former Republican governor who has never won statewide office as a Democrat should be nominated over the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida,” Fried’s campaign communications director Keith Edwards said in a statement.
Crist and Fried also face state Sen. Annette Taddeo in the Democratic Primary.