Florida’s only Democrat elected to a statewide office is setting her sights toward a higher position.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced Tuesday she is seeking the party’s nomination for governor, setting herself up for a potential battle with her current boss, Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"I'm here to break the rigged system in Florida," Fried said in a video posted to her Twitter. "It's corrupt. It's anti-democratic. And it's time for something new."
A native of Miami with three degrees from the University of Florida, Fried spent nearly a decade as a lawyer before becoming a lobbyist for several groups - including the marijuana industry, Walt Disney World and later the Broward County School Board.
In 2018, Fried narrowly won and became the first Democrat to hold a statewide office since 2011. She has been a vocal supporter of gun control legislation that did not pass the Florida Legislature while pushing for a federal waiver allowing free meals for students despite schools being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fried served as one of the speakers to jointly give the keynote address at the 2020 Democratic National Convention and has been at odds with DeSantis, based in part due to his close ties to former President Donald Trump.
Tuesday, Fried was critical of DeSantis for his signing of a bill banning transgender girls from playing on female sports teams at schools in the state.
“By signing a heartless ban on transgender kids in sports, Governor DeSantis is marginalizing an entire community," Fried said in a statement. "Signing it on the first day of Pride Month is especially cruel. Florida should stand for inclusivity, equality, and liberty – not peddling hate for political points.”
Fried becomes the second Democrat to announce a bid for Governor, joining former governor and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist - who held the office as a Republican from 2007 to 2011.
Both candidates look to become the first Democrat to hold the office since Buddy McKay – who served 25 days following the death of former Gov. Lawton Chiles.
DeSantis has yet to officially announce a reelection bid, but he is widely expected to do so. All statewide offices are up for election next year, as is the U.S. Senate seat held by two-term Sen. Marco Rubio.