U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a veteran of Florida political campaigns for three decades, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a relative newcomer in her sophomore statewide campaign, are trading barbs and urging voters to get to the polls in the final days of the Democratic gubernatorial contest.
The winner will take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Nov. 8 General Election, and much of the race has focused on who is best suited to defeat him.
If the candidates differ little in policy, they have highlighted their other differences — gender, generational — on the campaign trail.
Fried, 44, has embraced the slogan “Something New” to contrast with Crist, 66, who was first elected to the state Senate in 1992, when Fried was 15.
She’s also highlighted Crist’s past as a Republican lawmaker, Education Commissioner, Attorney General and Governor who took hard-line positions on criminal justice and abortion, while comparing it to her own stances in favor of abortion rights and her experience as a public defender.
“While I was a public defender, fighting to keep innocent Floridians out of jails … he was passing mandatory minimums during the racist War on Drugs,” Fried says in a recent ad.
Crist has led in most polls throughout the race, but some recent polls have seen it tightening, with Fried’s camp touting some showing her in the lead. He opted not to aggressively attack Fried until the last few weeks, when he’s emphasized Fried’s own connections to Republicans.
Fried donated $2,000 to the campaign of Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody, a college friend, in July 2017, before she decided to run for Agriculture Commissioner as a Democrat. As a lobbyist for a medical marijuana company, she also helped campaign for Republicans, such as former state Sen. Manny Diaz of Miami, now the Education Commissioner.
But it’s Fried’s friendship with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Donald Trump-allied Fort Walton Beach Republican who is under investigation by the FBI for sex trafficking a minor, that has weighed heaviest on her campaign for the Democratic nomination. Gaetz, who has not been charged, denies any wrongdoing. After the Jan. 6 ransacking of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, Gaetz posted on Twitter that pictures of him during the melee on his phone showed him texting Fried, who had inquired to see if he was OK.
Fried has also received large donations from Florida Power & Light and the sugar industry, and Crist has contrasted his handling of the utility monopoly while in office, appointing consumer friendly regulators and denying some rate increases, with Fried’s softer touch on sugar farmers as Agriculture Commissioner.
Yet Fried has forged ahead and closed the gap with Crist in the waning days of the campaign, backed by a vocal support among women newly energized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade. The ruling put a new threat upon the right to an abortion by kicking the issue to states like Florida, where a GOP-controlled Legislature could enact a complete ban.
Fried has continually drummed the theme that she is “the only pro-choice candidate” for Governor, noting Crist’s past anti-abortion stances, as well as his appointment of two justices to the Florida Supreme Court, Charles Canady and Ricky Polston, who could knock down prior precedent upholding abortion rights.
Crist has defended his record, noting in a recent ad that he has a 100% voting record on abortion rights issues since he arrived in Congress and has been endorsed by staunch abortion rights advocates, as he looks to fend off her challenge in Tuesday’s Primary.
August 22, 2022 at 8:28 am
Neither one stands a chance against DeSantis. Fried is done tomorrow, thank God. Now pack up your stuff Nikki at the Ag building and go away. Crist will be done come November. Maybe after his third defeat as a Repub now Demo for state wide office he will switch again and back to the Repub.🤣
August 22, 2022 at 8:51 am
You need a finger nail slap by Nikki Fried…tear the skin off your face. Then Charlie will hold you down while Friend scrubs her hairy cotch back and forth across your face. Also Trump will be assassinated one way or the other 😆
August 22, 2022 at 11:43 am
Truly amazing the filth that the misfits Corsin / Offen sometimes write, yet the FP moderators allow the junk to be posted.
August 22, 2022 at 12:03 pm
Women are not filth. You are sexually skittish, repulsed by female anatomy, and sexually dysfunctional…need psychiatric treatment. Church not cutting it for you? Obtain medication..
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