But Thursday, Crist’s campaign unleashed a one-minute video painting Fried as the one who’s too close to Republicans — even if Crist was once a Republican when he served as Governor and in a host of other roles.
The knives are getting sharper in the contest that wraps up Aug. 23.
“The Fried campaign has spent months lying about Charlie Crist,” Samantha Ramirez, Crist spokeswoman, tweeted with an embedded video. “Now it’s time voters know the kind of ‘lifelong Democrat’ Nikki Fried is.”
The ad comes as Fried’s team is spending over $1 million on negative ads and mail pieces that deliberately mislead voters on Crist’s record, a news release accompanying the new video says.
The Crist campaign did not return Florida Politics’ inquiry Thursday about how much the campaign was spending on this anti-Fried video and where it could be seen.
The Fried camp called the latest video, “desperate.”
“Serial candidate Charlie Crist is the Republican in this race, as he was when he was a state Senator, Education Commissioner, Attorney General, Governor, and failed Senate candidate. This distraction from Crist’s Republican record is pathetic,” said Caroline Korba, Fried’s press secretary.
The video starts with fast-paced piano music, suggesting an imp on the run, as Fried says in a clip, “the decisions I have made to support previous Republicans — look what’s actually gotten accomplished by that support.”
“OK, Nikki, let’s take a look,” responds the female narrator, in a tone suggesting she is not having it.
Next, scenes of the state’s best-known Republicans and Fried’s association with them flash by, perhaps playing on the fear that politics is all for show.
Fried donated to Attorney General Ashley Moody, who’s suing to further limit abortion rights in Florida, the video narrator says. She campaigned for “Republicans like” Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., who’s now enforcing the law that more closely regulates schoolhouse discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation, the narrator continues.
And, “Fried is close friends and allies with Matt Gaetz,” the video narrator intones, as the scene shows Fried standing with U.S. Rep. Gaetz as he declares, “I’m here with Florida’s outstanding Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried.”
And then the scene quickly shifts to Gaetz standing next to President Donald Trump and the narrator points out Gaetz’s bona fides as “Trump’s biggest backer.”
The next clip is Gaetz alone, shouting, “There is no greater president than Donald J. Trump.”
Gaetz’s comments on women’s looks and Fried’s donations from Big Tobacco whiz by and then comes the wrap-up, with a split screen of smiling Gov. Ron DeSantis on one side and Fried talking into the microphone on the other.
“Nikki Fried — she’s everything wrong with politics,” the video concludes.
Crist might have been tagged as “Chain Gang Charlie” because of his 1995 legislative proposal that would have brought back chained prison work crews. And the Supreme Court Justices he appointed while Governor could contribute to abortion rights getting rolled back.
But 2022 Crist is the one earning endorsements from noted progressive Democrats such as Miami area Sens. Annette Taddeo, Jason Pizzo and Shevrin Jones along with Central Florida’s Rep. Carlos G. Smith.
Thursday, his campaign highlighted an endorsement from Florida Immigrant Coalition Votes (FLIC Votes). The group is a grassroots, statewide coalition of more than 65 member organizations dedicated to the fair treatment of all, including immigrants.
“We are confident that Congressman Crist is the champion who will fight for the people of this state and bring the change needed against the hateful anti-immigrant and divisive rhetoric that is pitting Floridian against Floridian,” said Tessa Petit, Co-Executive Director of FLIC Votes. “We are done with politicians who put their political ambitions in front of our well-being and spend our state’s funds on culture wars meant to distract from the real issues.”
David Metellus, director of policy and politics for FLIC Votes, lauded Crist as a leader who sees the humanity and worth in everyone. That comes through when Crist talks about his Greek immigrant grandfather, Metellus said. It’s a marked contrast to the current state leadership.
“Our communities have been scapegoated, vilified and dehumanized by our current governor,” Metellus said.