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Florida Roundup: Nikki Fried wants to 'rebrand' Florida Democratic party

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist have held their first and only debate before the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
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As the new chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Nikki Fried told the Florida Roundup on Friday that she wants to rebrand and reunify the party, reconnect with voters across the state and recruit a new generation of Democratic leaders to win elections at every level of government.

As the new chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Nikki Fried told the Florida Roundup on Friday that she wants to rebrand and reunify the party, reconnect with voters across the state and recruit a new generation of Democratic leaders to win elections at every level of government.

She replaced former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who resigned as party chairman in early January — two months after Florida Democrats suffered historic losses up and down the ballot.

In the interview, Fried, the last elected Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida, said Floridians across the political spectrum needs to know what Democrats are doing to improve their daily lives.

“They don't know the good work that Democrats are doing across the state and [in] their local governments,” said Fried during her appearance on the Florida Roundup, a statewide public affairs show jointly hosted by NPR affiliates in Jacksonville (WJCT) and in South Florida (WLRN).

Fried was picked to chair the Florida Democratic Party last month as the party looks to recover from the disastrous election cycle that included former governor and Democratic congressman Charlie Crist’s landslide loss by 19 percentage points to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Fried lost to Crist in the Democratic party by a wide margin.

“I don't say that Ron DeSantis won by 19 points — the Democrats lost by 19 points,” said Fried, who told the Florida Roundup that Democrats had a “complete breakdown of communication of organizing a voter registration of our candidates, of training.”

“We’ve lost the support and the trust of so many Floridians across the state, not just Democrats, but independents and those Republicans that believe that their party has left them, that we didn't create a home for them,” she said. “So we start looking at some of those bridge building exercises, making sure that we are going back to the basics.”

Fried said among her top priorities is to reunify the party.

“We’ve got to come together and unify our party and to recognize that that our party is large, that we've got a seat at the table for all the diverse voices of our state, from those that are more progressive, leaning to moderate, to our NPAs, to, again, those Republicans who fundamentally believe that their party have left them,” she said.

In rebranding the party, she said people “don't know the good work that Democrats are doing across the state and their local governments.”

Fried said she wants to identify and recruit future Democratic candidates across the board.

“We've got so many of our past elected officers across our state, including those that have run for office, that become mentors for a lot of these new candidates,” she said.

She said the Democratic party must connect with voters to “give [them] a reason for people to vote for us.”

“And that is going to be my mission next two years to make sure that people understand who the Democratic Party is, what we stand for, and that we are the fighters for the people,” she said.

The News Service of Florida reporter Jim Turner contributed to this story.

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