Mac Stipanovich: Nikki Fried should take one for the team
Charlie Crist keeps the advantage over Nikki Fried.

Events have proven that 2022 is not Nikki Fried's time.

The circumstances of this column require full disclosure: I support Charlie Crist in the Governor’s race. There are many reasons for this, ranging from a sincere belief that the affable and experienced Crist is the candidate best suited to govern Florida in these contentious times to a visceral aversion to the dour, right-wing, beetle-browed pugnacity of Ron DeSantis.

Not the least of my reasons, however, is loyalty.

Malcolm Beard, the longtime Sheriff of Hillsborough County before he was a distinguished state Senator back in the day, once advised me never to give up an old friend to make a new friend.

And Charlie is my friend.

I have supported him in every race he has run since his election to the state Senate, and I see no reason to blot my copybook at this late date.

That said, I would be of the opinion that Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried should drop out of the Governor’s race for the good of the order, even if I had never met Charlie. She is not going to win the Democratic nomination, and her continued candidacy will only deplete resources — hers and Charlie’s — available to be deployed in the General Election against DeSantis, who already has more money than God.

The problem is not that a contested Democratic primary will be fatally divisive. Nikki and Charlie are both center-left Democrats whose differences on the fundamental issues are not earthshaking. The problem is that it is a wasteful distraction in the long shot effort to unhorse DeSantis.

Nikki’s candidacy was a mistake from the get-go. She should have run for re-election and defended the only statewide elected office held by a Democrat. Even if defeated in a matchup with Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson, she would have drawn Republican attention and resources away from the Governor’s race, thus earning her the gratitude of her party and preserving her credibility for future endeavors.

If successful in a re-election bid, she would have been the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination for Governor in the next race with no incumbent in the statehouse. Wine and roses.

My take on Nikki’s candidacy is not new. As she was moving into the starting gate, I wrote a column where I said that 2022 was not her time. The odds were too long, her future too bright. She needed to be patient, I said.

And her head exploded. Not her time? Not her time? Sexism. No, by God, not run-of-the-mill sexism. Blatant misogyny, that’s what it was.

Well, events have proven that 2022 is not her time. Her campaign has been as error-prone as it has been uninspiring. There are three principal planks in her platform: she is a woman; she hates DeSantis, and she loves weed. And, if her anemic fundraising and consistently poor poll numbers are any indications, nobody cares. She is a dead woman walking.

But all is not lost. It is never too late to do the right thing. She can help her party and help herself with tomorrow in mind (“After all,” as Scarlett O’Hara famously said, “tomorrow is another day.”) by dropping out of the race sooner than later in a dignified and self-effacing fashion. Doing so would do more to further the effort to defeat DeSantis than her obstinate self-immolation will, and it would entrench her standing as a respected party leader in a party in which respected leaders with statewide heft are as rare as hens’ teeth.

And, in addition to being the right thing to do, it is the smart, self-serving thing to do. If 2022 is going to be a bloodbath for Democrats nationally and in the Sunshine State, as reading the runes would lead one to believe, it would be best to stand clear of the disaster and emerge from the wreckage unsullied by ignominious defeat.

To round out my cliché fest, discretion definitely would be the better part of valor for Nikki at this point.

Mac Stipanovich

J.M. “Mac” Stipanovich is a veteran political strategist and former lobbyist who served as chief of staff to former Gov. Bob Martinez.


  • ScienceBLVR

    April 26, 2022 at 8:23 pm

    Your analysis is spot on as usual, Mac. I too, thought it odd Nicki threw her hat in the ring so early. She’s no Alex Sink, and she couldn’t pull it off either, with a lot more time and effort into it. As an educator, I’ll never forget how Charly stood up for the teachers when he was governor the first time. Contrast that with our treatment and constant attacks under DeSantis! I sure know who I’m voting for…

    • Tom

      April 26, 2022 at 9:49 pm

      Despicable reply from no science, disbeliever. You educators, thanks to this Gov have received 2 raises and bonus. Shameful you awful human. Your union sued to shut schools down.

      America’s Gov prevailed. Weingarten complained. Jobs, education, environment and opportunity for all under America’s Gov. Florida never been better.

      Best Gov in 50 years Mac.
      Camillion crispy no chance.

      • Rjkramerjr

        April 26, 2022 at 10:51 pm

        You said a mouthful Tom!

        • Tom

          April 26, 2022 at 11:00 pm

          You can count on me! I speak truth.

          I yield nothing and suffer these Dem Manchurians gladly. I am a legend on FP.

        • Eliza Dootwomuch

          April 29, 2022 at 4:39 pm

          A mouthful of marbles… what’s Camillion? Didn’t they dance to him on 30 Rock?
          These people who only hear words on the teevee (“rederick”) & then try to spell them out funedikly flabbergast me.

  • Tom

    April 26, 2022 at 9:06 pm

    How many hostile columns of note in impugning our great Governors character will F P sanction.
    Shameful once again.

    Memo to you Mac, or I’ll say Pal. No one cares what you think. You are from a by gone era.
    America’s Governor is the best Gov Florida’s last 40 years. That includes Jeb.

    As for day dream disbeliever and no homecoming king. You despicable ingrate, you have received 2 pay increases and a bonus as a so called educator. From this Gov. and legislature. Not that socialist Randi Weingarten. Gov has expanded school vouchers to poor minorities in sizable numbers. How ungrateful and ridiculous can you be you self serving loser!

    DeSantis wipes the floor with the ugly extremist left. Biden’s approval is at 36%, woeful. Govs approval is high 50’s, low 60’s. We have a landslide coming. With Fraud it’s 55% plus and Camillion it’s 53%.

    No one cares bout your friendship to the soulless Camillion Mac. It’s over.

    It’s the economy stupid, per James Carville.
    Fact: 3.2% jobs unemployment, top 20 in USA.
    Wage growth increase, 8.7% increase, third in country. Florida $15 billion in financial State reserves. Florida under America’s Gov is number 1 state in the USA.

    America’s Gov, rising tide for all Floridans.
    No one left behind. My goodness!

    • Son of Bidtaker

      April 28, 2022 at 8:46 am

      Environment??? You’re joking right? Union sued to shut down schools? How about vindictive Ronnie Boy’s suing or threatening to withhold $ from school boards who didn’t agree with his policies? (BTW – Florida still ranks 50th in nation with regards to teachers pay). You are right about one thing, the tide is rising in FL (unfortunately for those who live near the coasts) and folks have had enough of the Trump wanna be…..

  • Paul Brewer

    April 26, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    Though I consider myself far to the left of good old Mac. I feel his opinion is right on. Name recognition is important and Charlie has it. Plain and simple.

  • David J Baber

    April 26, 2022 at 9:40 pm

    Ranked choice voting would give us who we want without having to give to sh*ts what’s good for a party. (Which should never be why you vote for someone anyway.)

  • Tom

    April 26, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    Yes, every one knows the Camillion. Soulless, a flipper, fish just bouncing back and forth.

    No chance, FYI you political neophytes Biden is abysmal in Florida. Negative approval bout 36% to 39%. Gov Ron is in the high 50’s to low 60’s.

    America’s Gov wins easily and decisively. Enjoy!

    • Paul Brewer

      April 27, 2022 at 2:41 pm

      Spelling,punctuation,context. All show why schools need better funding.

      • Tom

        April 28, 2022 at 8:32 am

        Oh yeah ignorant one Paul.
        Name ID is relevant.
        As you said, you are left of Mac.
        Florida ain’t pal!
        Camillion flipper, fish Charlie, no chance.

        • Paul Brewer

          April 28, 2022 at 11:44 pm

          Bless your heart

        • Hugh

          May 1, 2022 at 6:17 pm

          If you learn to spell, you would have credibility.

  • Brandon

    April 27, 2022 at 6:25 am

    Max the Never Trumper still has a fantasy hard on for Charlie Crist. Then again maybe the gay rumors are true and Max is more than a friend.

  • Daniel

    April 27, 2022 at 8:13 am

    Why is this being published? The writer isn’t noteworthy for any reason, identifies himself as a unapologetic advocate for a former Republican Governor in the first paragraph, and then offers no legitImate reasons for Fried to get out of the race other than she’s inconvenient to his candidate? Platforming this man shows the bias of Florida Politics.

  • Rob

    April 27, 2022 at 9:33 am

    Sour grapes, washed up has been (Mac), no core beliefs are all thoughts that crossed my mind as I read this inconsequential post. ANY supporter of Crist has to ask themselves where does their hatred originate. Hatred of DeSantis and other Crist opponents is the only expalnation. Crist has no core values other than self preservation and tanning lotion.

  • EK

    April 27, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    It’s Game of Thrones – the Florida version. Nikki/Daenerys is willing to destroy Kings Landing in her futile quest for the Iron Throne.
    Charlie/Jon Snow will have no choice but to helpfully plunge a dagger deep into the Mother of Dragon’s chest and dispatch her lifeless body to Volantis.

  • Richard Paul Dembinsky

    April 28, 2022 at 5:07 am

    In 2006 I attempted the impossible to stop Charlie Crist when I was a Republican for 60 days; I failed and had to simply be happy with 11,921 NPA votes for Governor.


  • Morton Cosby

    April 28, 2022 at 9:00 am

    If you want desantis to win the democrats should surely run crist again. He did so well last time.

  • Professor Michael

    April 30, 2022 at 9:04 am

    Absolute total non-sense! Whenever a political operative encourages a candidate to drop-out of a race, that candidate represents a threat to the established order. This is going to be a very difficult race for any Democrat. However, Fried – despite her flaws – represents the future of the party.

    I’m not overly enthusiastic about Fried, but as the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida, she has a very good chance of winning the Democrat nomination. Like Crist, Stipanovic is part of the very old white-guy guard (with Crist appearing lately to be in his 80’s). May I suggest that it is long overdue for each of them to step aside and retire.

    Charlie Crist is void of any core values, and has always been motivated by one simple factor – HIMSELF. He is a hard-core politician. Should he manage to pull-off a miracle and win this race, he will not devote a single minute to Florida and battling with an incalcitrant GOP Legislature, or unwinding the damage done by the DeSantis Administration. Instead, he will travel the country, further increasing his profile, raising tons of money in an aggressive, over-the-top bid to position himself as the heir-apparent to Joe Biden.

    There’s an old saying that definitely applies to Crist – fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice, shame on me. It would be an absolute shame if Florida Democrats once again nominate a self-absorbed loser like Crist, the George Hamilton of Florida politics. It’s time to move forward!

Comments are closed.


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