Democrat Nikki Fried filed papers on Tuesday as a candidate for governor following months of positioning herself via Twitter and fundraising appeals targeting the Republican incumbent, Ron DeSantis.
Fried, Florida’s commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, has yet to make a formal announcement, but Florida Division of Elections records reflect that she has formally entered the Democratic primary in the 2022 race.
Later in the day, Fried released a campaign video via Twitter in which she denounces a “rigged system” that that’s “corrupt” and “antidemocratic.” She acknowledges the campaign will be difficult but adds that few expected a Miami Democrat to win election as agriculture commissioner.
“This won’t be easy. Those in power will do whatever harm it takes to stay there,” she says.
“But I’ve spent my whole life taking on the system. I’m unafraid. I’m tested. I’m ready. And I know you’re ready for something new, too.”
She joins Charlie Crist, a sitting Democratic member of Congress and former Republican governor, in the primary. He announced his campaign to recapture the Governor’s Mansion on May 4.
Fried is the only sitting statewide officeholder representing the Democratic Party but her 2018 victory over Republican Matt Caldwell was exceptionally narrow — the margin was 6,753 vote out of more than 8 million cast, according to the Division of Elections.
In her video, the former medical marijuana lobbyist includes marijuana legalization as a priority, in addition to environmental protection, expanded access to health care, smaller class sizes, economic opportunity, and access to justice.
“We can build a state that gives power back to you; an economy that rewards hard work with prosperity, not poverty or stagnation,” Fried says,
Fried’s Florida Consumers First PAC has raised more than $780,000 since it resumed fundraising in earnest in November, overwhelmingly due to small donations. The committee did attract several substantial donations from other PACs, however, including $128,500 from Equal Justice P.C., chaired by Fort Lauderdale criminal-defense and election-law attorney Jason Blank. Another Blank-affiliated committee, Citizens for United Florida, gave another $80,750.
By contrast, the Friends of Ron DeSantis committee raised more than $24 million during that same period, including nearly $14 million during April alone. The Friends of Charlie Crist organized only last month and has yet to file campaign financial disclosure information.
Division of Elections records reflected 10 candidates for governor as of Tuesday, with Crist the only household name.
Note: This story has been updated to add details about Fried’s campaign video.