Growing field of Democrats vying to take on DeSantis

The Governor’s Mansion on North Adams Street. Photo courtesy

State Sen. Annette Taddeo will be hosting a Florida governor campaign kickoff fundraiser at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Taddeo joins nine others, including former Gov. Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, vying for the Democratic Party nomination and hoping to topple Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Taddeo announced last week that she was entering the state’s governor race during a Tallahassee press conference on Oct. 18.

Taddeo, from Miami, serves as a member of the Florida Senate from the 40th District. She was Crist’s running mate in the 2014 Florida governor race, and she became the first Latina Democrat elected to the Florida Senate.

Ahead of Florida’s Aug. 23, 2022 primary election, Taddeo told the Tampa Bay Times the two major themes of her campaign would be Medicaid expansion in Florida and addressing climate change.

Fried previously worked as a public defender and lobbyist for medical marijuana. She won her seat as Agriculture Commissioner in 2018 as Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat.

Fried said she is running on “the people’s platform.” She wants to bring more jobs to Florida, adding there are issues to focus on before that can happen.

She wants to make sure the people of Florida are first, building from the bottom up. Fried hopes to be the first Democrat to win the governor’s race since Lawton Chiles’ 1994 reelection. Fried said she consistently supports Democratic issues.

“I’ve been fighting for these issues my entire life,” Fried said. “I stay true to who I am.”

Crist won a seat in the Florida Senate in 1992, serving for six years. On Nov. 7, 2006, he was elected as the state’s 44th governor, running as a Republican.  During his term, he administered federal stimulus money to help pay Florida public school teachers.

Crist unsuccessfully ran for Florida governor in 2014. Currently, Crist represents the 13th Congressional District in U.S. Congress as a Democrat.

On Monday, Oct. 11, Crist shared parts of his “Justice for All” campaign. The reform plan includes restoring voting rights and reducing gun violence.

“My Justice for All plan is a promise to communities across Florida that have watched and felt our government turning its back on them, that the Crist administration will usher in a new era, one where our state will not turn a blind eye to injustices, but tackle them head-on,” Crist said at his news conference in Tallahassee.

Also, part of his Justice for All campaign calls for legalizing marijuana, wanting to expunge charges and sentences for misdemeanor or third-degree marijuana possession cases.

Crist said there has been more focus on incarceration and there’s a need to shift to rehabilitation.

“For too long we have focused on incarceration when we should be focusing on rehabilitation,” Crist said.

Florida’s primary election is on Aug. 23, 2022, and the general election is on Nov. 8, 2022.