Florida’s political junkies are eagerly awaiting a major campaign announcement from Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried later today, after she dropped a teaser video last month hyping her opposition to Governor Ron DeSantis, and hinting at a June 1st launch of a campaign for the Democratic nomination.
If she gets into the race, she’ll join former Florida governor Charlie Crist, who has already formally announced he wants his old job back. Both Fried and Crist would then duke it out for the right to challenge DeSantis.
Since she was first elected in November 2018, Fried has been the most vocal critic of DeSantis, a role that has served her well. Her vocal opposition has helped build all-important name ID that she can parlay into election day success in 2022, even though many of her criticisms of DeSantis in the early days of the pandemic have since backfired on her.
Fried was among the first and loudest voices to rip into DeSantis for relaxing Florida’s defensive posture in the face of COVID-19 last year, and the resulting spike in summer cases seemed to give credence to her criticisms. And Fried was among those elevating the stature of Rebekah Jones, the fired Department of Health dashboard manager who claimed (and was recently granted) “whistleblower” status as the state investigates allegations that health officials ordered her to alter pandemic data.
But over the last year, the narrative seems to have shifted significantly in DeSantis’s favor. Florida’s economy got the jump on other states that remained closed, while at the same time, CNN and other national media outlets have started to realize that the allegations made by Jones, and echoed by Fried, have little to substantiate them.
Fried already has a sizeable campaign warchest, with over $1.5 million in cash on hand, but Crist is no slouch in the fundraising department himself, raising $760,000 since his launch last month, which he can combine with the $650,000 parked in his Congressional campaign account, easily making him competitive with Fried.
As of publication time Tuesday morning, no time for Fried’s announcement, whatever it is, had been announced.