WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Nikki Fried is nothing if not confident.
The South Florida-raised attorney became the lone Democrat to win statewide elected office in 2018, earning her place in the Florida Cabinet alongside her Republican rivals, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom she hopes to defeat in the November gubernatorial election.
But first she will have to beat U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and state Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami.
"We feel very confident that we are going to win this primary," Fried told WPTV's Michael Williams during a Friday interview ahead of Sunday's "To the Point."
Crist, himself a former governor, is ahead in polls right now, but the Republican who became an independent, only to become a Democrat, will hear the flip-flop criticism from Fried.
"The people of our state want a true Democrat," she said.
Williams pressed Fried on her remark.
"Look, every single issue that we as Floridians are fighting for today — whether that is access to affordable health care, whether that's affordable housing, our environment, to criminal justice reform, to medical marijuana and legalization, to civil rights, to criminal justice reform, you name the issue — unfortunately, Charlie was on the other side of it," Fried said. "When he was a Republican for most of his career, including anti-gay marriage, anti-gay adoption, including pro-life his whole life, so the issues that Floridians are facing here today are not the issues Charlie was fighting for his entire career."
Fried touted her record in office as Florida's agriculture commissioner and also answered criticism, addressing an Orlando Sentinel editorial from last year that accused her of investing in one of the state's few licensed medical marijuana providers and failing to disclose the money she made lobbying for the industry before taking office.
"It's misinformation, all across the board," she said, pointing out that her office doesn't regulate cannabis in the state.
"But you have made money from that industry. You've acknowledged that," Williams said. "At minimum, are the optics bad?"
"No," Fried answered. "I had a client in the industry that paid me my legal fees. That is what's called capitalism."