From participating in a Republican-leaning, military-related event to launching a service project to feed the hungry, soon-to-be Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Monday stood out as the state’s lone Democrat amid all Republicans to be inaugurated Tuesday.
She’s also holding her own celebration Monday evening, called “Growing a Stronger Florida.” The inaugural ball for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis will be on Tuesday evening, after the swearing-in ceremony and other activities.
“Fried kicked off her inauguration activities with a service project for Second Harvest Food Bank of Big Bend. Fried joined over 200 volunteers to pack fresh produce and food packages for families in need,” according to a news release from her inaugural committee.
“I’m proud to be here to partner with Second Harvest Food Bank on the critical work they do to meet the needs of communities in Northwest Florida and all across the state,” Fried said in the news release.
She added, “Being here to kick off the start of the inauguration week is so important to me because of the work they do to address food deserts and food insecurity. As Commissioner, ending hunger will be one of my top priorities.”
Fried also was invited to speak Monday afternoon at the Ron DeSantis event with military families at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum. The event was titled “A Call to Action: Honoring Service, Sacrifice, and Country. The event included speeches and patriotic songs, and included group audience participation with country-music artist Lee Greenwood, singing “God Bless the U.S.A.”
Fried told the crowd of veterans, military families and others that she will help work to make Florida the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. Her grandfather served in World War II, she said.
Fried, a lawyer, went through a razor-thin election and grueling voting recounts to become the first female elected to the state Agriculture Commissioner position.
She will also be the only Democrat on Florida’s Cabinet, which also includes Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody and Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. The three Cabinet members work on a variety of state issues with the Florida governor.
All Cabinet members and the governor will be sworn in on Tuesday.