HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Democrats are in the final days of deciding who they want to go up against Governor Ron DeSantis in November’s General Election.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried brought her bus tour to an early voting site in New Tampa on Friday afternoon, while Representative Charlie Crist is campaigning in the Orlando area.
A newly-released poll from the University of North Florida showed Fried with a narrow lead over Rep. Crist. Commissioner Fried told News Channel 8 she’s feeling a “Nikki surge” in the final days of this tight race.
“The people of our state, the Democrats want something new,” she said, referring to her campaign slogan.
Fried said the state’s affordability crisis and women’s reproductive health care are the top two issues on Democratic voters’ minds when they step into the voting booth this election.
“They’re asking who is the best person suited to take on Ron DeSantis and we are making our closing argument that’s there’s no choice besides making sure we’re putting me at the top of that ticket,” Fried said.
“Ron DeSantis is leaving Floridians out to dry as he jets around the country to campaign for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, promoting election deniers and his own extremist, anti-freedom agenda,” Rep. Crist said in a statement from his campaign. The congressman had scheduled stops at early voting locations Friday afternoon in Oviedo, Orlando and Kissimmee.
Both Fried and Rep. Crist have accused Gov. DeSantis of voter intimidation after his press conference Thursday in Broward County to announce the arrests of ex-felons by the state’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security.
“All of those issues could have been handled by the state attorneys, maybe not here in Hillsborough now that we’ve removed the dually elected Andrew Warren, but unfortunately what he’s done is created a political stunt,” Fried said.
Fried said she supports the ruling by a Federal judge that blocks the “Stop Woke Act’s” restrictions on workplace training for violating the First Amendment.
“But that’s not new for Ron,” she said. “Ron has spent most of the last 3 and 1/2 years infringing upon our rights, whether its our right to protest, making it harder to vote, freedom of speech and now a women’s right to choose, taking away the right to privacy.”
Fried has more campaign stops in Tampa Bay on Friday, including in St. Petersburg.
Early voting continues in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties throughout the weekend. Voters can go to any of the available sites, but on Tuesday they must vote in their assigned precinct.