Week in review: Taddeo shakes up gov race; DeSantis shakes up lawmakers

by | Oct 24, 2021

Some insiders wonder aloud if Taddeo’s a shill designed to sink Fried

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Annette Taddeo and her supporters aren’t working in cahoots with Charlie Crist in a complex triangulation strategy to siphon votes from Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried. As many folks pointed out after our debut story on the matter, Taddeo may have been Crist’s running mate for governor in 2014, but that doesn’t mean they actually like each other. There is little chance she entered the race in a coordinated effort just to knock off Nikki Fried so that Crist can stroll his way to the nomination.

But now that Florida’s leading political insiders have had a few days to process the full impact of Taddeo’s entry into the 2022 contest, several related themes have emerged:

First, Fried hasn’t shown anywhere near the momentum commensurate with the amount of political noise she makes on a weekly basis, which means that despite her regular grandstanding and fawning media coverage as the state’s highest ranking Democratic official, she’s just spinning her wheels rather than getting real traction with voters.

Crist, meanwhile, according to most insiders I talk to, appears to have the inside track and many believe he’ll be the eventual nominee.

Many of these same insiders don’t give Taddeo’s candidacy much of a chance, viewing her entry into the race as a name recognition ploy ahead of a more serious run in 2026.

Don’t believe it. The conventional political wisdom of Tallahassee’s “chattering class” is more often wrong than right. In this case, it’s far too early to coronate Crist or to write off either Fried or Taddeo. Several fresh examples exist in recent election cycles at various levels that just because a candidate can attract political donations doesn’t mean he or she can attract voters. Crist’s seeming fundraising advantage this early should be taken with a grain of salt.

So far, there hasn’t been a single debate or any real head-to-head face off between the candidates. When the campaign begins in earnest Florida’s extremely vocal progressive activists come to life, expect a transformational shift in the tone of the current campaign. All three candidates will lurch leftward, vying for attention. And that’s when Nikki Fried’s political screeching will start to pay dividends. While Taddeo might take some of the wind out of Fried’s sails, in the end, the most progressive but still viable candidate will prevail.

Right now, in my view, the smart money is on Fried to emerge victorious.

DeSantis shakes up the Florida legislature 

Did Governor Ron DeSantis actually surprise Republican legislative leaders with his vow to call a special session in November? Sure looks like it. It was no secret that he was thinking about doing something, but generally speaking, the governor and Republican leaders in the House and Senate typically plan these things out and show some solidarity.

Many conservative lawmakers aren’t going to pass restrictions on Florida business owners over what they’re allowed to require of their employees and patrons entering their premises. Those are ultimately decisions that a company isn’t going to make lightly, and while it might be the right decision for some not to require employees to be vaccinated, it could be the right choice for other business owners. The key principle among conservative lawmakers – and DeSantis, too – is that limited government necessarily allows those types of decisions to be made at the most local level possible. And in this case, the most local level is the individual property owner.

Some political observers immediately wondered if the move would open the door to allow Florida Democrats to find a way to ingratiate themselves with Florida businesses – particularly donors – a group they’ve traditionally struggled with.

Indeed, some Democrats attempted to seize the opportunity, including State Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, who tweeted:

“This is an attack on Florida’s private business & local leaders who’ve taken steps to protect Floridians. I’m determined to fight against this in the Legislature to protect the freedom businesses have to safeguard our residents.”

But DeSantis isn’t ceding any ground to Democrats. He rolled out messages of support from Florida business owners who want the governor to ensure local governments are banned from mandating vaccine passports for restaurants and other businesses.

To date, no special session has been set.

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