Progressive club rescinds Nikki Fried endorsement, backs Charlie Crist

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The Sanibel Democratic group cited media reports on the Agriculture Commissioner’s regulatory record.

A progressive group based in Southwest Florida is rescinding its support for Democrat Nikki Fried days ahead of the Primary Election. Instead, the group now encourages voters to back Charlie Crist for the Democratic nomination for Governor.

The Progressive Club of the Islands withdrew its support after the Palm Beach Post published an investigative report on sugar cane burning during Fried’s term as Agriculture Commissioner. Other newspapers quickly posted similar reports suggesting under Fried’s watch the state had been soft on agriculture.

“These articles characterized her as favoring big industry rather than the needs of local citizens downwind of the burns,” reads an email from the club’s board of directors. “The residents of the areas, mostly people of color with limited financial resources, are bearing the biggest brunt of this pollution.”

Fried responded to the stories by questioning the motives of the Post. She accused the newspaper of taking money from the Sierra Club to pay for the story.

“It’s something I’ve heard — hope it’s not true. But honestly hard to tell when their editor is (retweeting) my opponent’s staff and editing black and white campaign videos of me to prop up Charlie,” she tweeted. “It was a hit job on the eve of the election. We posted the facts.”

That didn’t impress the Sanibel Democratic group.

“Bashing the press with charges of ‘fake news’ and accusations of accepting bribes are tactics we usually associate with (Donald) Trump supporters and extreme right-wing politicians and commentators. Such behavior has no place in a Democratic campaign,” the email said.

“Our disappointment with Nikki Fried’s response to this controversy has led us to remove her from our Primary Election endorsement list, leaving Charlie Crist as our sole Primary Election Gubernatorial endorsee.”

This comes as Fried and Crist in the final days of the campaign question one another’s Democratic bona fides. A Democratic Primary will be held Aug. 23, with the winner challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in the General Election.

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