'I'm unafraid. I'm tested. I'm ready.' Nikki Fried to run for governor in 2022

Florida's agriculture commissioner joins Charlie Crist in quest to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantis
Nikki Fried news conference, March 4, 2021
Posted at 1:22 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 16:14:38-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The worst kept secret in Florida politics has been made official: Nikki Fried is running for governor.

Florida's agriculture commissioner announced Tuesday that she will seek to challenge Republican incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022, hours after filing paperwork with the Florida Division of Elections.

"I'm Nikki Fried and I'm here to break the rigged system in Florida," Fried said Tuesday in a video shared on her social media pages. "It's corrupt, it's anti-democratic and it's time for something new."

The 43-year-old Fort Lauderdale attorney was the only Democrat to win a statewide election in 2018 and is the lone Democrat in the governor's cabinet.

Fried has frequently hinted at the idea in the past, including last month's teaser video vowing "something new" come June 1.

The announcement means she will be up against U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., in the gubernatorial race. Crist, who announced last month that he was running, has previously served as Florida's governor, but he was a Republican at the time.

A search of the Department of State's website shows that Fried, Crist and six other Democrats have officially filed, as well as two independent candidates and one Republican candidate.

candidates for Florida governor as of June 1, 2021
Eleven people have filed to run for Florida governor in the 2022 election as of June 1, 2021, according to the Florida Division of Elections website's candidate listings page.

But Fried and Crist are the likely frontrunners to challenge DeSantis in the general election. Democrats will have a choice between a young up-and-comer in the Democratic Party who has been one of DeSantis' most vocal critics since arriving in Tallahassee or an established politician who will likely have to answer criticism for his history of waffling from Republican to independent to Democrat.

"Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist are two peas in an opportunistic pod," Republican National Committee spokeswoman Savannah Viar said. "Republicans are ready to face whichever Democrat manages to find their way out of the crowded Democrat primary."

If she were to win, Fried would become the first female governor in Florida's history.

A Democrat hasn't been elected governor since Lawton Chiles won re-election in 1994.

"Listen, this won't be easy," Fried said in the video. "Those in power will do whatever harm it takes to stay there, but I've spent my whole life taking on the system. I'm unafraid. I'm tested. I'm ready, and I know you're ready for something new, too."