Florida Democrats pick Fried to lead the party after tough midterm elections End-shutdown

MIAMI — Florida Democrats selected former state agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried as their new party chairperson Saturday, hoping to overcome a disastrous midterm performance in the once-presidential battleground state where top-ranking governor profile. Ron DeSantis has helped consolidate Republican control.

Fried, 45, bested former state Sen. Annette Taddeo at a special meeting of party members in suburban Orlando, and will replace Manny Diaz. In his resignation announcement letter last month, he listed a number of problems facing the party, including a lack of resources and volunteers and poor messaging.

Both women had lost their own races last year: Fried against Charlie Crist in the gubernatorial primary and Taddeo against US Rep. María Elvira Salazar in November.

In recent years, Republicans have erased the voter registration advantage in Florida that Democrats held for decades. In the midterm elections, longtime Democratic strongholds such as Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties turned to the Republican Party, and DeSantis won a landslide re-election victory as he contemplates a 2024 presidential bid.

Democrats fared particularly poorly with Latinos in Florida compared to previous years. Miami-Dade, the most populous county in the state, is home to 1.5 million Latinos of voting age.

Fried, whose term as agriculture commissioner ended last month, vowed to rebuild the party “from the ground up,” focusing on voter registration. As the only statewide Democrat elected, Fried was a fierce critic of DeSantis, often challenging him on policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic and later on a law critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. , which prohibits instruction on sexual orientation. and gender identity from kindergarten to third grade.

Taddeo, 55, was a state senator from 2017 to 2022. She said she wanted a year-long effort to register voters without outsourcing that work to other groups and mobilize young voters. She also says the party needs to do more outreach to the black and Hispanic communities.

A little over a decade ago, President Barack Obama won re-election to the White House after winning the state of Florida twice. President Donald Trump has carried the state in the last two elections, beating Florida by an even greater margin in 2020 than he had four years earlier.

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