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Florida State Sen. Annette Taddeo jumps into Democratic governor’s race

Taddeo’s entry sets up three-person race with U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

FloridaTALLAHASSEE (CFP) — Florida State Senator Annette Taddeo has launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor, putting a new wrinkle in what had been a two-horse race for the right to face Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

If elected, Taddeo, 54, who represents a Miami-Dade district in the Senate, would be the state’s first Latina governor. Her entry sets up a primary battle against U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.


State Senator Annette Taddeo, D-Florida

At an Oct. 18 news conference in Tallahassee announcing her run, Taddeo said she entered the race after encouragement from people around the state, which she said showed her that there was “real hunger for a fighter and a leader who will actually bring the coalition that we need here to win.”

“I am somebody that really believes in Florida and who believes Florida deserves a governor who will actually govern for all Floridians and not just for a select few,” she said.

Crist and Taddeo have been together before in a governor’s race, but as allies rather than rivals. When he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014, he picked her as his running mate for lieutenant governor.

In a campaign kickoff, Taddeo wasted no time in going after DeSantis over his opposition to mask and vaccine mandates, which is likely to be a flashpoint in next year’s campaign.

“I’m fighting for a science-based, common sense approach to public health in this pandemic,” she said. “As a mom with a kid in public schools, and after four years of this, I believe [DeSantis’s] time is up.”

Taddeo was born on a farm in Columbia and moved to the United States when she was a teenager. She ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 2008 and 2016 before winning a special election for a Florida Senate seat in 2017.

Because Florida does not have primary runoffs, the primary candidate who gets a plurality will win the Democratic nomination, which significantly changes the calculation with three major candidates in the race rather than two.

Crist is from Tampa Bay, while Taddeo and Fried are both from South Florida. Hispanic Democrats, particularly in Central Florida, are likely to be a key to winning the nomination, which could play to Taddeo’s advantage. She has been a vocal critic of the state party’s outreach to Hispanic voters.

Fried, elected as agriculture commissioner in 2018, is the only Democrat holding statewide office, and she has been a persistent critic of DeSantis’s tenure in Tallahasssee.

Crist was elected to a single term as governor in 2006 before leaving to make an ill-fated run for U.S. Senate in 2010, where he was beaten by Marco Rubio. After switching parties in 2013, he ran for governor as a Democrat and lost in 2014, bouncing back to win a seat in Congress two years later.

Crist has run for statewide office seven times since 1998, as a Republican, an independent and a Democrat. He is 3-and-3 in his previous six races.

The winner will face a formidable opponent in DeSantis, who will not only have the power of incumbency but is sitting on a warchest topping $53 million, which, unlike his Democratic rivals, he won’t have to spend in a primary.

Democrats have not won a governor’s race in Florida since 1994.

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