TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A day after Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried entered the Florida governor's race, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis made it clear he's willing to go on the attack after a reporter asked him about the race Wednesday.
Speaking at a New Smyrna Beach restaurant, DeSantis said Fried would have mismanaged the coronavirus pandemic, calling her a “lockdown lobbyist” with no accomplishments.
“Nikki Fried has done nothing in office. She does nothing. All she does is emote on social media (and) virtue signal to small dollar donors in California and New York,” DeSantis said. “She’s a lockdown lobbyist. She would have had our kids locked out of school the whole year. She would have had this business shuttered for the whole year. They would be out of business if Fried were governor.”
Fried responded on Twitter, saying, “I think we struck a nerve with @GovRonDeSantis. Temper tantrums are for toddlers, not Governors.”
Fried, Florida's only statewide elected Democrat, has been increasingly critical of DeSantis on social media and in news releases. She announced her run for governor by releasing a two minute video Tuesday.
In a telephone interview before the announcement, she criticized DeSantis for having a right wing agenda that's included making voting more difficult, signing a bill to punish social media companies she said was a response to former President Donald Trump being banned from Twitter and approving an “anti-riot” bill that was a response to Black Lives Matter protests.
DeSantis noted that Fried has been on the opposite side of him on many issues.
"She’s opposed us at every turn. All the good stuff we’ve been able to accomplish for Florida, she opposes it. I’ve done more, I think, in my first week as governor, than she has done in her entire time as agriculture commissioner," DeSantis said.
Among other accomplishments that Fried listed during the interview was pushing for the legalization of a hemp farming program, streamlining concealed weapon permitting to reduce wait times, updating water management practices, holding a climate change summit and developing an energy plan.
Fried is facing former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who is now a Democratic U.S. representative, in the primary. Crist ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014, losing to Republican Rick Scott.
Crist's campaign announced Wednesday that it raised $1.35 million in the first month since announcing he'll run for governor. That's in addition to $185,000 he transferred from his congressional campaign account.
A political committee backing DeSantis raised more than $23 million through the first four months of this year.