Florida’s LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus met over the weekend to discuss which candidate for governor they would endorse in next month’s primary.
Both have won statewide elections and both connect with the party’s base. The choice is between Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried and former governor and current St. Petersburg area congressman Rep. Charlie Crist (FL-13).
Both brought exuberant supporters to the event in Fort Lauderdale. But after listening to both give rousing speeches, the caucus couldn’t reach a decision on whom to endorse. Rules require one candidate to get ⅔ support. Fried fell less than one percentage point short, with 65.8%.
Both gave exclusive interviews with SFGN.
In 2018, Nikki Fried won by fewer than 7,000 votes out of eight million cast, an extremely tight race even by Florida standards. She is currently the only statewide elected Democrat.
“People want a change. They want someone who is a fighter,” she told SFGN.
She said the LGBT vote is essential to her success.
“They’re dedicated voters and understand what is at stake in this election. There’s no community that has been targeted more under Ron DeSantis than this community. Making sure they have seats at the table and working on plans together. LGBT is essential to winning and essential to governing.”
Laws banning trans athletes from competing in school sports and “Don’t Say Gay” law empower people to hate, and that’s been seen in threats against Pride On the Block in Palm Beach County and this month at Sunshine Cathedral. Fried said hate must be confronted.
“You have to stand up. You can’t go into a corner and embolden them. Education is how you get rid of hate. We can’t sit back idly. We have to pay attention and get these people out of office. So much of this hostility and anger is being fueled by leaders in our state and country.”
Crist is a former Republican who switched parties after losing a Senate bid to Marco Rubio in 2010. Many Democrats are skeptical, but he said he is the only person who can beat DeSantis in November.
“I can win. That’s the most important thing. I’m running for governor to beat Ron DeSantis. LGBTQ deserve their rights to be respected always first and foremost.”
He said he would be a forceful check on republicans in the legislature.
“Executive orders, repealing laws with moderate Republicans, take ‘em to court. All of the above, all hands on deck.”
The caucus also endorsed Val Demings in her bid to unseat Rubio. She is recovering from COVID-19, and didn’t attend the event.
For a list of all their endorsements, go to LGBTQDems.org.