Bakari Sellers boosts Nikki Fried ahead of campaign stretch run

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried spent time in Jacksonville for a pre-Primary “day of action,” which culminated with national support.

Fried appeared with CNN’s Bakari Sellers at a Murray Hill bar called “The Walrus” for a town hall. The event wrapped up a day of events that included a barbershop stop, a lunch with Black Farmers, and a meeting with small business people in the artsy Five Points enclave.

Sellers described this as a gubernatorial race that matters “nationally,” and noted that Fried was the only candidate at a recent Democratic Black Caucus meeting.

“Nikki’s a fighter,” Sellers said. “I don’t have anything negative to say about her opponent, but Nikki is better suited for the moment.”

Fried described her campaign as a “movement in the state of Florida.”

“I know when I get out of bed I’ve got the people with me,” Fried said.

“You mean the world to me, the people of our state,” Fried said, noting that “democracy is on the line,” with a nation divided in a way it hasn’t been since the Civil War.

“The entire nation is going to be watching this election,” Fried added. “If we don’t defeat Ron DeSantis, we know what his next step is.”

At Tuesday’s event, Fried espoused the importance of “people first” candidates, rather than “party first” ones, before taking a series of questions from the crowd presented by Sellers.

Her positions, though well-established, were expressed once again. She referenced her belief in the healing power of cannabis, advocating so-called “recreational” marijuana also. She bemoaned the “double whammy” affecting insurance, including “fraud” and “insurance fraud” that contributes to driving up rates, describing “reinsurance” as being a cost driver in the state.

She also discussed the change in Duval over the last decade, more diverse than when she lived in the county, suggesting that was a reason the county is important to her.

Fried in Murray Hill was playing to a crowd unlike those at most Crist events. Several dozen people showed, creating an overflow crowd. Candidates and elected officials were among them, including Soil and Water Commissioner Ashantae Green. Democratic nominee Michael Anderson of House District 17, and Agriculture Commissioner Primary candidates Naomi Esther Blemur and J.R. Gaillot.

With fundraising, endorsements, and other traditional metrics going Crist’s way, the hope on Fried’s side is for a sort of “wave” like the one that buoyed 2018’s Democratic nominee, Andrew Gillum.

“The Black community did everything possible to get Andrew Gillum to the governorship, and if that hadn’t been the case, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Fried, noting her narrow victory over Matt Caldwell in 2018’s General Election.

Whether a so-called “Fried wave” exists or not that compares with 2018’s Gillum surge will be determined for sure three weeks from Tuesday night.

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