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Conservatives rejoice after Florida Dems elect failed gubernatorial candidate as party chair: ‘Great news’

Republicans, conservative activists and others on Twitter mocked Florida Democrats for electing Nikki Fried as their next party chair, predicting more red waves to come after her blowout loss in last year’s gubernatorial primary.

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The Florida Democratic Party’s executive committee on Saturday chose Fried, the state’s former agriculture commissioner who also ran for governor last year, to be their next chair. Fried will replace Manny Diaz, who resigned last month after Republicans crushed Democrats across the Sunshine State in the 2022 midterm elections.

Even before the general election thumping, however, Fried herself was soundly defeated in the Democratic gubernatorial primary last August by 25 percentage points.

The primary winner, Charlie Crist, went on to lose to Republican incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis by over 19 points, the widest margin in a Florida gubernatorial race since Jeb Bush won by 13 points in 2002.

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Former Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried was elected as chair of the Florida Democratic Party on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.
Former Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried was elected as chair of the Florida Democratic Party on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. (Steven Lemongello/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

FLORIDA DEMOCRATS CHOOSE NIKKI FRIED TO LEAD PARTY AFTER ‘HORRIFIC NOVEMBER’

Still, the Florida Democratic Party congratulated Fried for her election as party chair, expressing optimism about electing Democrats “up and down the ballot.”

Longtime Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida also congratulated Fried, saying she was “Eager to work w/ you to register, turn out and elect @FlaDems across #FLA.”

Given Fried’s 2022 performance, however, Republicans were also quick to congratulate her for the new position, quipping the change is a good sign for the GOP.

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“Aww congrats Nikki!” tweeted longtime DeSantis aide Christina Pushaw, who also posted a map of Florida being entirely red to symbolize a coming red wave.

“This is incredible news for the Republican Party of Florida,” wrote Lavern Spicer, who lost in the Republican primary to represent the state’s 24th Congressional District.

“It’s like you want to lose every election,” tweeted author and ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel.

“Great news to solidify Florida as a red state!” former Trump senior adviser Steve Cortes tweeted. “The Dems choose as their FL leader a politician who lost badly in the primary to the nominee…who then lost by 19% to DeSantis.”

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Other Twitter users piled on in the reply section of the Florida Democratic Party’s congratulatory tweet. Among the responses were “‘Thank you’ — Florid Republicans,” “Isn’t this the same girl who got her a– kicked by a bad candidate in Charlie Crist,” and simply “LOL.”

Fried acknowledged a “horrific November election” in Florida but assured her supporters she had a “plan for success,” adding, “You better believe we are going to take it to Ron DeSantis every damn day.”

Christian Ziegler, the newly elected chair of Florida’s Republican Party, told Politico that Fried will have to start her chairmanship “by convincing the 65% of Democrats who rejected her just months ago.”

“At this point, I may need to discuss with our staff the need to list all activity conducted by the [Florida Democrats] as an in-kind to the [Florida Republicans],” he said in a tweet.

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Nikki Fried was Florida's commissioner of agriculture and a Democratic candidate for governor in 2022.
Nikki Fried was Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and a Democratic candidate for governor in 2022. ( Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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The Democratic Party suffered heavy losses across the state beyond the governor’s race in the midterms. Republicans picked up nine seats in Florida’s state legislature, going from 76 seats to 85, while Democrats dropped from 42 seats to 35. Two GOP pickups were from vacancies. All 120 members were up for election.

In the state Senate, meanwhile, Democrats lost four seats, falling from 16 to just 12. All 40 seats were up for election.

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