Former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — the new chair of the Florida Democratic Party. Feb. 25, 2023. Credit: Danielle J. Brown
Former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat who had hoped to become the first woman governor of Florida but didn’t win in the 2022 gubernatorial primary race, has been elected as the new chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
Florida Democrats on Saturday posted a celebratory tweet:
“The Florida Democratic Party congratulates @NikkiFried on being elected to lead our party as the new Chair. We look forward to working together to elect Democrats up and down the ballot to deliver for Floridians.”
Fried, an attorney, former Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and former elected Cabinet member, was the lone statewide Democrat on the Cabinet who fought against the conservative agenda of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.
After leaving her statewide post following the 2022 election, Fried initially said she wasn’t interested in running for the chair of the party, but fairly late in the game she put her name in for consideration.
Her main competitor was former State Sen. Annette Taddeo, of Miami-Dade, and it was a close race, with a POLITICO tweet reporting Fried with a 52 percent of the vote.
Fried succeeds former party Chair Manny Diaz, who had announced he was resigning in early January from serving as chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
Fried will face a momentous task: To bring more Democrats into the fold, increase the number of Democratic candidates who can win races, and bring back a Florida that is at least purple, not red in the political scene. And keep in mind that DeSantis is considering a presidential bid for 2024.
In a last e-mail before party leaders would be voting on the chair Saturday, Fried wrote: “I’ve heard your ideas and your vision to reclaim our state from Ron DeSantis and the Republicans who have led us very far astray.”
She added: “I will need your support to rebuild our state. We may not always agree, but if we don’t agree, I will not attack you, or minimize you. I will listen and together we will find common ground. Unity and commitment to work together is more important now than ever …
“We will focus on the fundamentals. Rebuilding our voter registration lead, learning how to win at the local level and expanding vote-by-mail. We will lean into messaging that makes sense and refuse to cede ground to Republicans. We will empower you and your teams of volunteers to grow our Party and our mission. This is the foundation we need to reclaim our state. And if I am Chair we will build it together.”
After the vote, Fried said in a thank you statement:
“While today is a big win for our team, the change we need in Florida does not come from this election, change comes from getting up every day with a mission and purpose, daily acts of service, and empowering those who serve with you. And that is the kind of change we will implement in this new Florida Democratic Party! I want to thank all who stepped up to run for Chair and I know that I will have your support as we rebuild our Party. I want to give gratitude to every member of the voting body, to those who supported me from the sidelines, and to my team and their counsel …
“Today, we were reminded once again that we are a big tent party, and that together we can reclaim that fundamental truth — that out of many, we are one.”
Last week, the Republican Party of Florida elected its new chair — Christian Ziegler. He had served as the vice chair for the past four years. Ziegler grew up in North Georgia but became a fixture in Sarasota and Florida Republican politics.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.