Florida Democrats look to stave off irrelevance with new leader

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried concedes the race to U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Crist will face incumbent Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in November. Marta Lavandier/AP

Florida Democrats look to stave off irrelevance with new leader

Misty Severi

February 24, 06:13 PM February 24, 06:13 PM

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Democrats in Florida will vote on a new leader in Orlando on Saturday, selecting from a pool of four candidates they hope will bring the party back to prominence.

The four-way contest for state Democratic Party chair is largely seen as a two-woman race between former Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and former state Sen. Annette Taddeo. The election is considered the first step in repairing the party’s strained reputation, which has taken a hit in recent state and national elections.


“For whoever becomes the party chair, it’s not going to be about celebrity. It’s going to be a thankless job,” Dwight Bullard, a former Florida state senator and senior political adviser, told the Hill.

“It’s going to be probably one of the most difficult jobs they take on,” he said. “But baked into that is an opportunity. An opportunity to build without the heavy hand of national influence that Florida has operated under for a long time.”

Democrats in the state most recently took a beating in the 2022 midterm elections, which saw Republicans take the supermajority in the state legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) defeat challenger Charlie Crist by 19 points. There is not a single Democrat in statewide office.

Fried ran against Crist to be the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2021.

Because of the losses, former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz resigned as party chairman last month, opening up the party for new leadership.

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Alex Berrios, who dropped out of the race for Florida Democratic chair earlier this month, has publicly endorsed Fried, even though Fried only entered the race a couple of weeks ago. Berrios claimed that Fried had what the party was missing.

“She’s not just a good person, she’s a good candidate,” Berrios said. “She’s young, she’s strong, she’s not just going to bend to pressure. This is somebody that has more spine than most people in politics.”

Broward Democratic Party Chairman Rick Hoye and Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida Legislative Committee Chairwoman Carolina Ampudia are also running for the leadership position.

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