DORAL, Fla. – Political analysts reckon Florida’s governor has his eyes set on a bid for the White House in 2024, but first comes the race for the governor’s office in November.
On Thursday, two of the top Democratic candidates vying for the state’s top leadership role were in South Florida ahead of August’s primary.
With a firm grip on the state’s Republican Party, analysts say it is a tough road ahead for challengers in the gubernatorial election.
One of the people running for governor is Florida’s lone statewide elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
“We are going to talk about the issues that are actually impacting people’s lives,” she said Thursday. “We are here in Miami-Dade, we know that we have a housing crisis.”
She will face former Republican Florida Governor, now turned Democrat and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist.
“Broward is so important, I have so many friends here, I call it beautiful Broward,” Crist said. “Running against Ron DeSantis, I think the people deserve better, and they deserve a choice.”
Both candidates were in South Florida on Thursday afternoon glad-handing ahead of the primary election in just a few months.
They told Local 10 News why they think their campaigns have a shot at unseating Florida’s heavyweight incumbent.
“The governor has dropped the ball on the things that are actually important to the people in our state and that is how we are going to win, because people are tired of the divisiveness, of the anger,” said Fried.
“What this campaign is all about is having a Governor that has a heart and works for the people,” said Crist.
DeSantis is focused on being the front man for a conservative agenda squarely focused on headline-grabbing and fundraise-fueling cultural issues.
Take, for example, the governor’s campaign website, which offers sloganeering merchandise that match his ‘never ever back down’ public persona.
“When DeSantis is pushing his national agenda, he is also pushing a local agenda that plays well with the voters he needs to gain reelection in November,” said NSU Political Scientist Charles Zelden, adding that the Democratic candidates haven’t done well at articulating a unique platform beyond differentiating themselves from the governor, “because it is hard for them to break through the noise that DeSantis has been throwing up.”
Zelden says beyond overcoming the national spotlight controversial legislation garners him, candidates vying for DeSantis’ seat are up against a widening fundraising gap.
“He’s got the lead on the Democratic candidates but more than that he has an energized base that is willing to give,” Zelden said.
Said Fried: “It is unfortunate that this governor and this legislature wants to spend more time on culture wars and picking fights with everybody instead bringing our state together unify us.”
Zelden said the GOP strategy to win with wedge issues on the frontline of the nation’s culture wars could also help democratic challengers find their footing with young voters like Delaney Reynolds.
“It resonates with us in the sense that we think it is unimportant and working backwards,” Reynolds said.
“If (Fried and Crist) are playing for the center, they may be able to take some of the Republican voters who don’t like what DeSantis is doing with the party and get their votes,” said Zelden. “What they are trying to do is reach out to base voters in the Democratic side, plus central voters, voters in the middle, who are troubled by the cultural issues that the Republicans are pushing and build a coalition to win election. It is a viable strategy, but it is a difficult strategy to pull off.”
“Both sides are playing to their bases,” added Zelden. “This is going to be a base election, which is to say that ultimately who wins, who loses, will be dependent on the turnout of the voters for each side…and right now the advantage lies with the Republicans.”
RESOURCES FOR VOTERS
Florida Divison of Elections- Key Dates https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/election-dates/
Election Dates for 2022 are:
· Primary Election: August 23
· General Election: November 8
The deadline to register in order to participate in an upcoming election is 29 days before the election. The registration deadlines for 2022 are:
· Primary Election: July 25
· General Election: October 11
The deadline to request that a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed is no later than 5:00 p.m. (local time) on the 10th day before the election. The deadlines for 2022 are:
· Primary Election: August 13
· General Election: October 29
Miami-Dade Elections Early Voting Schedule for 2022 August 23 Primary Election: https://www.miamidade.gov/elections/library/2022-08-23-primary-election-early-voting-schedule.pdf
Miami-Dade Vote-by-Mail: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser1512065909614490
Broward County Election Information: https://www.browardvotes.gov/Election-Information/Municipal-Election-Information
Broward County Vote-by-Mail: https://www.browardvotes.gov/Voter-Information/Vote-By-Mail-Voting
Palm Beach County Election Dates and Deadlines: https://www.pbcelections.org/Elections/Election-Dates-and-Deadlines
Palm Beach Vote-by-Mail: https://www.pbcelections.org/voters/vote-by-mail
Monroe County Elections: https://www.keys-elections.org/m/Upcoming-Elections
Monroe County Vote-by-Mail: https://www.keys-elections.org/m/Voter-Information/Vote-by-Mail
Florida Division of Elections- Voting: https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voting/
Charlie Crist Campaign Site: https://charliecrist.com/
Nikki Fried Campaign Site: https://nikkifried.com/
Ron DeSantis Campaign Site: https://rondesantis.com/
Candidate Listing for 2022 General Election: https://dos.elections.myflorida.com/candidates/CanList.asp