The Phoenix Flyer

Addressing union workers, Fried says she makes Gov. DeSantis ‘nervous’ during FL Cabinet meetings

By: - June 23, 2022 1:26 pm

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried addresses a crowd about issues facing Floridians at a convention held by the Florida AFL-CIO on June 23, 2022. Credit: Fried’s Twitter page

With Gov. Ron DeSantis canceling Florida Cabinet meetings, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried claimed on Thursday that she makes the Republican governor uneasy during the meetings because she forces him “to get in the conversation about true policy.”

Fried, seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination against DeSantis this year, mentioned DeSantis’ demeanor during Cabinet meetings while addressing the Florida AFL-CIO convention in Orlando. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, also seeking the nomination, addressed the convention, too.

“I make this a joke all the time — when I am in Cabinet meetings and I go to press my microphone to start talking, Ron starts to have this very weird twitch about him that he gets because I make him nervous,” Fried said.

“I make him nervous and I force him to not just get on his soap box and talk about nonsense, but I force him to get in the conversation about true policy,” said Fried.

The Cabinet comprises three members — Fried, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — who are statewide-elected officials conducting the state’s business along with the governor.

Crist, meanwhile, alleged to union members that DeSantis “wants to bust your union.”

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“The AFL-CIO is the backbone of our country and this state,” said Crist, a former Republican governor. “I am here today because union workers really are the essence of our society. You think back to the beginning of this pandemic, and it was you who held it all together.”

Endorsement to come

Although the labor union hasn’t endorsed either Fried or Crist, the union is expected to do so soon, said Florida AFL-CIO spokesman Michael Newberger.

As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, Fried said DeSantis’ office offered no reason for scrapping a Cabinet meeting scheduled for June 28 and a June 29 meeting of the Board of Executive Clemency.

At the event Thursday, Fried declared that she would fight for labor unions and workers in the state, advocating for better retirement plans and wages for workers, if elected as governor in November.

She argued that the top issue facing residents right now is Florida’s skyrocketing housing costs, including rising rents; her first priority if elected, Fried said, would be to declare a state of emergency on housing.

Fried added that she would veto any “union-busting bill” and put members of unions in “key leadership positions.” She argued she is the only individual who knows how to win Florida as a Democrat and “how to throw the punches against Ron DeSantis and land them.”

“This is not a time to play it safe,” she said. “If we play it safe, we will lose.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.