Nikki Fried, who started her campaign for Governor more than a year ago with the motto of “Something New,” vowed to win next week’s looming Democratic Primary and springboard into the long-awaited head-to-head contest with Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Fried’s campaign billed her speech, which came hours after she started the first leg of a campaign bus tour, as the “closing argument” before Democrats decide whether to send her into the arena against the Republican Governor or put a pause on her political career.
Fried mentioned U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in her remarks, but instead focused most of her attention on DeSantis, mocking the Governor’s continued promise to keep Florida “free” that has become central to his campaign pitch.
“To him, freedom means anything and saying anything that would get him on Fox News. But if you don’t look like him, you don’t sound like him, you don’t act like him, you’re totally screwed,” she said.
Fried, who has made abortion rights a central part of her platform in the wake of the repeal of Roe v. Wade, referenced an appellate court decision this week that denied a 17-year-old access to an abortion. Florida law requires minors to get parental consent before having an abortion but does allow for judicial overpass in certain circumstances.
“A 17-year-old girl here in the state of Florida who doesn’t have parents, she’s out here all alone. And now she’s forced to have a baby. That’s Handmaid’s Tale. We are living in a dystopian novel. That is not freedom. And he’s not just coming for the control of women,” she said, arguing Blacks and LGBTQ-plus people have also had rights diminished.
“It’s suffocating and it has to end,” she said.
Fried, who is Jewish, touched on her background and said that her life and career path has been shaped by the Hebrew idiom “tikkun olam,” which means to repair the world.
“It’s why I shunned private practice to become a public defender, to protect our innocent Floridians. It’s why I took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis to protect our homeowners. It’s why I’ve helped kids in the foster care system and it’s why I have been so hard against Charlie,” Fried said. “Because appointing and defending judges that take away Black congressional districts, that overturn Roe v. Wade and take money from the NRA is the exact opposite of healing the world. And it’s the exact opposite of what it means to be a Democrat.”
Fried mentioned the findings of a new poll from the University of North Florida that shows 47% of likely Democratic voters in the Primary Election support her. By contrast, 43% support Crist.
The survey of 1,624 registered Florida voters who said they are likely Primary Election Voters was conducted online Aug. 8-12 by UNF’s Public Opinion Research Lab.
Fried said that women will be the key to winning the election
“We are beating Ron in the General Election with women,” she said. “And that has Ron DeSantis scared out of his mind.”
Fried plans to spend the week before the Primary on the road, although she has to head back to Tallahassee next Tuesday for a Cabinet meeting that was scheduled by DeSantis. She is spending Wednesday campaigning in Jacksonville.