- Nikki Fried, former Commissioner of Agriculture, is running for the Chair of Florida’s Democratic Party.
- Fried joins 4 other candidates in the race to lead the state’s Democratic Party.
- Fried’s vision for moving the party forward includes issues such as access to abortion services, economic opportunity, and safeguarding democracy.
- The next Chair of the Florida Democratic Party faces a difficult task of rebuilding the party after historic losses in the midterm elections, while also addressing tensions between long-serving and progressive members of the party.
Former Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried announced on Monday morning that she is running to be the chair of Florida’s Democratic Party. She joins four candidates — former state Senator Annette Taddeo, political consultant Alex Berrios, Broward Democratic Party Chair Rick Hoye, and progressive activist Carolina Ampudia — in a bid to lead the state’s party.
Fried, who told The Capitolist several weeks ago that she was “very involved” in the election process, capped off a gubernatorial campaign last fall when she lost to Charlie Crist in the primary. In describing her vision for moving the party forward, she touched on many of the same talking points that drove her campaign for governor, including access to abortion services, economic opportunity within the state, and safeguarding democracy.
“As Florida Democrats, we either fight like hell against right-wing extremism or accept irrelevance and oppression. I choose to fight. That’s why I’m running to be the Chair of the Florida Democrats,” said Fried on Twitter.
The Florida Democratic Party finds itself at a crucial crossroads in 2023, as it faces a long recovery from historic losses in the midterm elections and must seek to reclaim political power in the state government.
But huge questions loom. How will Florida Democrats come back from one of the most decisive defeats in its history? Where do Democrats start to rebuild? The next Chair of the Florida Democratic Party faces a difficult task, starting with convincing the party faithful that they’re up to it.
“As we reflect not just on the results of the 2022 midterms, but the last 30 years, Florida Democrats must start to act and think differently,” Fried told The Capitolist during a phone call last month. “It is imperative to the future of our state, as democracy only works when there are checks and balances, that Florida Democrats get this next chapter right.”
As the FDP’s only competitor, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) exceeded its sky-high expectations on midterm election night last November, positioning itself to hold a supermajority in both legislative chambers. At the final whistle, state Republicans hold 85 seats in the Florida House and 28 in the Senate, emerging victorious in nearly every competitive race.
En route to attaining the supermajority, Republican newcomers ousted a series of established Democrat lawmakers, including Taddeo. Consequentially, party officials with the most sway in the party’s electoral process aren’t convinced that Taddeo can live up to the task of regaining lost territory, according to an anonymous source, leading Fried to answer calls for her candidacy.
While Fried is likely to gain momentum among the Democratic party’s long-serving members, she remains at odds with progressive newcomers on claims that she did not act on left-leaning issues like climate change and marijuana legalization during her time as Commissioner of Agriculture.
The tensions reached a head last summer when Fried found herself in a Twitter battle with Rep. Anna Eskamani, leading the representative, along with several other notable young progressive lawmakers, to endorse Crist for governor.
Fried also faces the task of breaking through the momentum Taddeo has already picked up in her candidacy. As of this writing, Taddeo holds endorsements from nine of the twelve state Democrat senators and a bevy of former lawmakers and party officials.
This is a developing story.