DeSantis is formidable opponent in Governor’s race

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on June 1 announced her candidacy for governor of Florida, challenging former Governor and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary.

The race pits a relative newcomer against a longtime fixture in Florida politics. 

Fried’s only run for office was her successful campaign to become Florida’s agriculture commissioner in 2018, making her the only Democrat elected statewide since 2012. Crist was first elected a state Senator in 1992 and since then has served as Education Commissioner, Attorney General and then Governor from 2008 to 2012. 

In November, the winner of the Democratic primary will face Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is a formidable candidate, said political consultant Janee Murphy during WMNF’s MidPoint Wednesday hosted by Janet Scherberger on June 1. 

“DeSantis has a war chest of money,” Murphy said. “He also is the governor. He can go out there and do several PSAs and take credit for the Biden money that is coming into the state of Florida to help Floridians. For instance he just did his statewide stop in Sarasota saying he brought bonuses back to the teachers. He didn’t bonuses back to the the cheers. Biden did that.” 

Several WMNF listeners called into the show, with some, including a registered Democrat, saying they like how DeSantis handled the pandemic. 

“He left the state open, he’s gone against the entire country. He’s not enforcing vaccines or vaccine passports and I think that’s admirable. I don’t think we need any of that in our country,” said Simone in St. Petersburg, who described herself as a registered Democrat who plans to vote for DeSantis. 

“We sort of stayed open,” said Hillary from St. Pete, who said she is an Independent who does not support Tramp. “We didn’t just shrivel up and die and for that I respect his decision-making. There’s a lot of things about him I don’t like, but I appreciate the fact that Florida is doing well now”

Murphy countered that much of Florida’s success with handling the pandemic is due to the actions of local officials. 

“DeSantis stood back and  left it to the counties. The counties were looking for direction from him, which he didn’t give at first,” Murphy said. “He’s been able to take credit for the hard work of local officials”.