Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the lone statewide elected Democrat, has officially announced she is running for governor of the state.
Fried filed election paperwork on Tuesday afternoon and made her official announcement on Twitter.
“It’s time to break the rigged, corrupt system in Florida with #SomethingNew,” she wrote as a caption on her campaign announcement video.
It’s time to break the rigged, corrupt system in Florida with #SomethingNew.
— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) June 1, 2021
Fried promised she would announce “something new” on June 1, and said it was “becoming clearer and clearer that Ron DeSantis needs to be a one term governor.”
In her campaign announcement video, Fried derided the current state of Florida politics, saying the “rigged system” is “corrupt, it’s anti-democratic, and it’s time for something the new.” In the same video, Fried laid out her priorities, including a $15+ an hour “living wage,” equal opportunity, combating climate change, and legalizing marijuana, among others.
Fried was widely expected to join the race. She has been a vocal critic of Gov. DeSantis, even calling for an FBI investigation into his handling of COVID vaccine distribution to donors of his political action committee.
Fried is up against former governor and current Congressman Charlie Crist, who is also vying for the Democrat nomination. But her campaign messaging so far is focused on DeSantis, who has yet to announce he is seeking re-election but is expected to run in 2022.
It will be an uphill battle to unseat Gov. DeSantis, according to J. Edwin Benton, a USF professor of political science and public administration, simply because he is the incumbent, and incumbents have a 90% or greater chance of winning, Benton says.
But, according to Benton, Fried may already have an advantage over Crist.
“Her advantages, she is speaking to the issues where DeSantis is verbal and she’s being doing it longer than Crist has, so I will give her the advantage although she comes up shorter than Crist as far a political visibility,” Benton said. “Crist’s name is well-known more so than Fried, although she’s come along, her name is more recognized before, but she got a head start on Crist on attacking DeSantis long before he did.”
In a poll conducted by St. Pete Polls in late March, Fried came in a dead heat in a hypothetical matchup with DeSantis.