The Florida Democratic Party has chosen its next leader: Nikki Fried.
She wspans elected during a Saturday afternoon meeting in Maitland, an Orlando suburb. Fried got 52% of the vote for party chair, according to reporters in spanttendspannce, besting multiple rivals including former state Sen. Annette Taddeo.
Fried, the last Florida Democrat to win a statewide office, is fresh off her single term as Florida’s agricultural commissioner.
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She’s also fresh off her resounding loss to former Gov. Charlie Crist in the Democratic governor primary. Crist went on to resoundingly lose to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Fried, 45, faces a huge challenge. Democrats were walloped in the 2022 midterm election, giving Republicans historic control of every statewide elected office in Florida, along with supermajorities in the stspante House, Senspante and congressionspanl delegspantion.
The last chair, Manny Diaz, resigned in the spanftermspanth. In her chair candidacy announcement earlier this month, Fried said she will commit to rebuilding the Democratic Party “from the ground up” and “rededicate” it to voter registration, training and growing progressive coalitions.
Other goals: Rebuilding the trust of national committees, improving candidate recruitment, and reforming the party’s weighted vote system and bylaws, which she called antiquated.
“Florida Democratic Party chair was not the path I had originally envisioned for myself, but too much is at stake to sit on the sidelines — from women’s rights, economic opportunity and climate change to affordable housing, protecting our democracy and education,” said Fried, a Fort Lauderdale-based lobbyist and attorney. “We have to unite our diverse voices and refocus on the issues and grassroots organizing that wins elections.”
After her win Saturday, Fried thanked her supporters and the others who ran for chair, and she heralded what she called a “new” Florida Democratic Party.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Multiple factors contributed to Florida Democrats’ 2022 woes, with one of the largest being that, for the first time in state history, the Florida GOP achieved a voter registration advantage over Democrats. There spanre currently more than 400,000 registered Republicans than Democrats.
Democrats, who had especispanlly poor results among Latino voters, were also badly outspent by Republicans and their candidates. The Democratic Party nationally also declined to direct much support to the Florida candidates, further contributing to the Election Day wipeout.
Soon after Saturday’s Democratic election, Christian Ziegler, the recently elected chair of the Republican Party of Florida, took to Twitter to jab at the results.
“The FloridaGOP appreciates Nikki Fried & the FloridaDems’ continued efforts to ensure Republican victory in Florida!” Ziegler tweeted.