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'Nobody ever broke a glass ceiling on the first pitch,' Fried tells supporters after swift defeat

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Gerard Albert III
/
WLRN
Defeated gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried tells supporters at her election night watch party that she has conceded to Charlie Crist

Agricultural Commissioner and Democratic hopeful for governor Nikki Fried came on stage minutes after polls closed in Florida. She had bad news.

“Nobody ever broke a glass ceiling on the first pitch, she told dozens of supporters gathered in a Fort Lauderdale music venue.

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Her opponent Charlie Crist swiftly defeated her, the race called before all of the in-person ballots were counted.

Results from South Florida counties showed Crist with a significant lead as polls closed at 7 p.m. Fried received just over 35% of votes statewide with almost all of the votes counted.

She was a lesser-known name in Florida politics despite being the only Democrat holding a statewide office. During her campaign, the state agriculture commissioner, took a more progressive approach and was vocal about defending the right to abortions.

“Movements don’t happen overnight. Change doesn't happen overnight. So we get up tomorrow, and we continue the fight that we have started. And we continue to fight for the future of our state,” she said.

She advertised herself as “something new” and hoped to have been Florida’s first female governor and the first democrat to win in decades.

That will now fall on Crist, a former governor and current congressman. Fried said she endorses Crist’s campaign and vowed to help Democrats at all levels get elected.

“I will campaign up and down the ballot to make sure that Democrats are elected into our city and county commission seats, into our statewide elected positions, into our Senators and into our House members,” she told the crowd.

Disappointed supporters didn’t stick around long after Fried’s announcement. Rachel Shonfield, stood on the balcony watching as Fried talked to media and supporters.

“I think this was a great opportunity for a breath of fresh air in our Florida politics,” she said.

Shonfield wore a purple campaign shirt inside Revolution Live, where Fried hosted her watch party. She said she was excited at the chance to vote for a woman governor, but she said she’ll support Crist’s campaign in November.

“I will be 100% behind Charlie Crist at this point. And I am hopeful that with a lot of important issues he will gather this support in addition to his own, and in addition to some independents [and] maybe some disaffected Republicans,” she said.

Crist will need those votes as he faces Governor Ron Desantis, who ran unopposed in the primary.

The Republican governor won his first election by less than half a percentage point, but soon became one of the most prominent figures in GOP politics.

Gerard Albert III is back in Broward, where he grew up, after reporting on crime and public safety in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and West Palm Beach. Albert is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University.