Heading into a pivotal statewide conference, South Florida’s LGBT Democrats are clearly asking for something new.

Florida gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried takes the backing of two influential LGBT groups into this weekend’s state caucus in Fort Lauderdale. Fried, the state’s agriculture commissioner, secured the endorsement of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council’s Voters Alliance and won the Dolphin Democrats straw poll — taking both contests by wide margins.

“She delivers,” said Rand Hoch, PBCHRC president and founder. “Nikki Fried not only seeks our input on issues of concern to the Palm Beach County LGBTQ+ community, she shows up.  Whether it is lending her support to PBCHRC, Compass, and Palm Beach Pride, Nikki Fried has always been here for us.”

Fried won Broward’s Dolphin Dems’ straw poll by a 37 to 13 vote over U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist. The vote came as no surprise, said Dolphin Democrats President Alfredo Olvera.

“She’s a fresh voice who has done what she said she would do for our community,” Olvera said. 

After winning Ag Commissioner, the only Democrat to win statewide since 2012, Fried appointed an LGBT consumer advocate and updated department policies to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws.

At this weekend’s Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus meeting, another vote will take place among members from throughout the peninsula. Crist, who served as Florida’s governor as a Republican from 2007 to 2011, previously ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014, losing a close election to now U.S. Senator Rick Scott. 

Crist carries the endorsement of out gay state legislators Carlos G. Smith and Shevrin Jones, while Fried draws support from young activists like Elijah Manley, a candidate in State House District 99. 

“We tried Charlie before,” tweeted Manley. “We’ve seen that story, and we already know how it ends. We have a great shot in November. Don’t blow it.”

Florida’s primary elections are Aug. 23. The last day to register or change party affiliation is July 25.

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