Nikki Fried is a bad politician
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried was meant to be the anointed savior of her state’s still underperforming and ossified Democratic Party. Instead, she’s replaced by a two-time election loser, as it turns out she’s not very good at politics.
Fried trails professional weather vane representative Charlie Crist in the polls by nearly 30 percentage points. She is on track to lose Tuesday night in embarrassing fashion. Despite being the only Democrat to win statewide in 2018, Fried has become an afterthought for Democratic voters in Florida. Matt Dixon and Gary Fineout at Policy detail how Crist got past Fried despite his “aggressive harassment DeSantis” over his handling of the pandemic and focus on culture war topics.
Part of the problem with this otherwise ingenious strategy is that DeSantis’ pandemic response and his culture war issues are hugely popular. Florida was one of the top states for inbound migration during the pandemic, and Republicans have overtaken Democrats in voter registration during this time. DeSantis’ response to the pandemic has been so well received that Democratic politicians have flocked to the state for their own vacations. Combine that with how DeSantis picked his cultural battles, winning support from independents and even Democrats, and Fried was fighting a losing battle.
More than all that, Fried is just ridiculously bad at politics. She compared DeSantis to Adolf Hitler, earning a denunciation of the Anti-Defamation League in the process. She was dumped on Twitter by gun control activist David Hogg, broadcasting her slackness on the internet for all to see. In case there were any doubts about how robotic and inauthentic a politician she is, just watch her explain why she chose to run for governor.
Remember his focus on the pandemic? In her effort to show that DeSantis has in fact mishandled the pandemic, she has turned to conspiracy theorists. She treated Rebekah Jones, the fake whistleblower who lied about Florida’s COVID-19 data, like a martyr. She bought into the media attack on DeSantis for prioritizing vaccines for the elderly, who were most at risk from COVID-19. In essence, Fried turned into a lopsided leftist Twitter personality and decided people wanted that in a governor.
Fried was the only Democrat to claim a statewide victory in 2018. Along with Alex Sink, she is one of only two Democrats to win a statewide constitutional seat in that century. It’s certainly an accomplishment, but her run for governor has shown that she’s out of her depth, a political victim of the Peter Principle. The increased scrutiny she faces has shown her to be weak, prone to conspiracy theories and out of touch with voters. She was supposed to save Florida Democrats from the state’s rightward shift. Instead, she turned out to be just another red state Democrat mediocrity.