Charging Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican leaders are attempting to “circumvent or override democratic norms” Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried is asking the federal government to watch Florida’s election activities.
In a letter she sent Monday to Kristen Clarke, Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights, Fried called for the Department of Justice to closely monitor election-related actions of Florida officials and “take appropriate federal action if necessary.”
In doing so, Fried voiced a preemptive concern for the integrity of the General Election, which may have her contesting DeSantis.
Her letter follows a similar one, with charges and a similar call for action that her Democratic gubernatorial opponent Rep. Charlie Crist sent last week to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Fried cited what she called “discriminatory congressional maps, new voter suppression measures, and a Secretary of State with radical far-right views.” The latter charge was a reference to Cord Byrd, a former three-term Neptune Beach Republican.
She specifically cited SB 90, and another measure establishing Florida’s new election police force. She also explicitly went after Byrd and his wife, Esther Byrd, a recent appointee to the State Board of Education.
“Secretary Byrd and his wife, also a DeSantis appointee, have made supportive comments related to far-right fringe elements such as QAnon and the Proud Boys and have defended individuals involved in the insurrection,” Fried charged.
She called the list of actions she referenced a threat to civil rights in Florida.
“These actions, most recently highlighted by the Florida Supreme Court’s refusal to hear a challenge to the blatantly discriminatory congressional maps handcrafted by Gov. Ron DeSantis, illustrate a deliberate attempt to undermine the will of the people and enshrine one-party rule in the state,” Fried wrote.
“As an independently elected member of the Florida Cabinet, I have a duty to alert your office and our federal partners of these concerning events,” Fried added.
Either Fried or Crist likely would be involved in the election, by winning the Democratic Primary Election for Governor. In polls she and Crist stand well ahead of state Sen. Annette Taddeo in that contest.
The winner would face DeSantis in the November General Election.