Florida Democrats Double-Down on Losing Formula

With long-standing havens of Democratic support flipping from blue to red in the 2022 Election, it was natural to assume a change of leadership in the Florida Democratic Party was imminent. To nobody’s surprise, former Florida Democratic Chair Manny Diaz resigned as chairman of the party. Earlier this week, Florida Democrats chose to make Nikki Fried their new leader. The decision defies all logic when you dig into the data and consider the trends seen across the state.

Of all the anomalies in Florida politics during the past decade, perhaps no outlier rivals the surprising victory of Nikki Fried (D) when she edged-out state representative Matt Caldwell (R) by less than one percent in the 2018 election for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer. Fried was the lone Democrat to win a statewide office, and in her most recent campaign in a Democratic Gubernatorial primary versus Charlie Crist, Fried lost by 59 percent to 35 percent. Crist, who was once a Republican and has a more moderate record than Fried, went on to lose in landslide to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Cristi’s embarrassing loss to DeSantis in 2022 came after Democrats chose Bernie Sanders’ endorsed candidate Andrew Gillum over Gwen Graham as their 2018 nominee for governor. Ultimately, Gillum not only lost to DeSantis but embarrassed by multiple corruption scandals that were eventually exposed about Gillum. Mega donors to the party including prominent attorney John Morgan said Gillum was a terrible choice in hindsight and many expressed regret over not nominating Graham, who touted a more moderate record and was the daughter of a former governor who enjoyed decent bipartisan support.

Fried’s blowout loss to Crist followed by Miami-Dade and Hillsborough County flipping red for an outspoken staunch conservative like DeSantis should have made it abundantly clear to Florida Democrats that there is no notable trend toward the left wing of the party. They’ve seen a former lead in voter registration evaporate and devolve into a major deficit. In 2018, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by nearly 300,000. Today, Florida Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by 400,000.

Based on the aforementioned trends, Republican are the ones who should be celebrating Nikki Fried’s new position as chair of the Florida Democratic Party.

Matt O'Hern
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