Rebekah Jones, a former Florida Department of Health (DOH) employee who was fired for repeatedly violating the agency’s policy about communicating with the media, announced on Twitter she was “endorsing” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried for governor in 2022.
In a subsequent Tweet, Jones implied she was actively campaigning with Fried. It’s not clear what, if anything, Fried intends to do with the endorsement. Max Flugrath, a spokesman for Fried’s campaign, did not respond to questions seeking comment on the matter. The campaign declined to confirm Jones’ claims and also declined to confirm Fried had actively sought support from Jones.
Notably, three hours after Jones made the announcement on Twitter, Fried still had not acknowledged the endorsement on social media or anywhere else.
Jones, who claims she was ousted by Governor Ron DeSantis last year for failing to manipulate COVID data announced the endorsement on Twitter Wednesday, hailed Fried as a “fierce advocate for justice:”
They say don’t throw out endorsements, which is why this is only my second, but a very important one.
I will support whoever wins the @FlaDems nomination for governor.
— Rebekah Jones #Vaccinated (@GeoRebekah) June 2, 2021
In an exchange on Twitter, Jones responded to a challenge that Fried didn’t want the endorsement using a vulgarism and claiming, “I’m campaigning WITH her…”
The implication that Jones was actively campaigning with Fried was met with immediate skepticism online. Fried’s campaign did not bail Jones out and instead continued to ignore questions seeking to confirm the claim they were campaigning together.
The apparently unsolicited endorsement from Jones comes one day after Fried, the lone statewide Democrat, officially launched her gubernatorial campaign, promising to “break the rigged system in Florida.”
“I’m Nikki Fried and I’m here to break the rigged system in Florida. It’s corrupt, it’s anti-democratic, and it’s time for something new,” Fried says in a 2-minute video. “Like many of you, I’ve been underestimated my whole life. I was underestimated when I fought corruption as a public defender, I was underestimated when I took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis to keep families in their homes, and I was underestimated in 2018 when I said a Democrat from Miami could be elected commissioner of agriculture.”
While Fried’s campaign is staying quiet on the endorsement by Jones, both she and Jones have been on the front lines of the effort to discredit DeSantis since the start of the pandemic. Fried, who continues to be the most outspoken opponent of DeSantis, daily lambasting the Governor for his handling of COVID-19 last year, previously elevated the status of Jones, retweeting her unsubstantiated claims and helping turn Jones into a household name.
Other top-ranking Democrats also initially supported Jones, but many have since begun to distance themselves from her in recent weeks. Jones has drawn criticism for her ‘boy who cried wolf’ narrative, her repeatedly unsubstantiated claims, and a series of run-ins with law enforcement that has plagued her credibility. Jones faces two pending criminal cases, one for alleged cyberstalking of one of her former students, the other for alleged unauthorized access of a state computer network.