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Crist vs. Fried: Democratic voters to choose a candidate that can best challenge DeSantis

 Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (left) and U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist (right) recently held their first debate in the Florida Gubernatorial Primary
Wilfredo Lee and Chris O'Meara
Associated Press (AP)
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (left) and U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist (right) recently held their first debate in the Florida Gubernatorial Primary

The winner of Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary race on Tuesday will likely come down to who voters believe has the best chance of defeating Gov. Ron DeSantis in November.

Democratic primary voters will decide between U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

Fried is the only statewide elected Democrat in office, a fact she's highlighted throughout her campaign.

READ MORE: Election day for the Florida primary is upon us. Here is how and where to vote

Crist is a former single-term Republican governor who was elected in 2006. Eight years later, he ran for governor as a Democrat and lost to former Gov. Rick Scott. In 2010, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent.

The polls are open 7 a.m. — 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23. Voters standing in line at 7 p.m. may cast a ballot. Unlike early voting sites, Election Day polling locations are assigned to voters based on their precinct. That information is available through county supervisor of elections' offices.

Even though Fried has painted herself as the only "pro-choice" candidate in the race, Crist recently voted in support of protecting access to abortion at the federal level, which would override state laws banning abortion if ever enacted.

Crist has raised more money than Fried and has racked up more endorsements. The Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group, along with the statewide teachers' union and several other labor unions are among the organizations backing Crist.

Crist also has more Democratic state lawmakers behind him than Fried, including moderates and progressives.

Still, Fried has demonstrated that she can appeal to the state's younger voters by getting the endorsement of the Florida College Democrats, local chapters of the Florida Young Democrats, including those in Bay County and in Jacksonville. Fried also won the Young Democrats' straw poll taken earlier this year.

Fried has marketed herself as a candidate who will bring "something new" to the governor's office.

Most of the polling taken throughout the race has put Crist ahead of Fried. A University of North Florida survey released one week before primary Election Day shows Fried with a slight lead among registered voters.

Fried has repeatedly attacked Crist in recent weeks on his past as a GOP lawmaker, while Crist has gone after Fried for her work as a former lobbyist.

The attacks between the two Democratic gubernatorial campaigns is expected to come to an end after the results in Tuesday's primary election are finalized and the winner pivots their attention to defeating DeSantis in the November general election.
Copyright 2022 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Valerie Crowder is a freelance reporter based in Panama City, Florida. Before moving to Florida, she covered politics and education for Public Radio East in New Bern, North Carolina. While at PRE, she was also a fill-in host during All Things Considered. She got her start in public radio at WAER-FM in Syracuse, New York, where she was a part-time reporter, assistant producer and host. She has a B.A. in newspaper online journalism and political science from Syracuse University. When she’s not reporting the news, she enjoys reading classic fiction and thrillers, hiking with members of the Florida Trail Association and doing yoga.
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