State Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried’s ‘Take Back Florida’ stops in North Miami

More than 6.7 million Floridians stayed home for the 2022 general election.

In turn, Gov. Ron DeSantis cruised past challenger Charlie Crist by more than 1.5 million votes. And as DeSantis now tries to shape America in the Sunshine State’s image, Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried intends to help the party do more to mobilize its members and solicit new ones.

“The party has left so many of our communities behind,” Fried said from behind a podium with a “Take Back Florida” sign attached to its front.

A unified coalition of Black, Hispanic and Asian Democrats welcomed Fried to North Miami on Friday afternoon as part of her “Take Back Florida” tour. The former Florida commissioner of agriculture acknowledged the party’s failures but also touted new initiatives to better connect with voters who have often accused Democrats of only soliciting input from diverse communities around election season.

“We are here,” Fried said to a crowd of more than 50 people at The Katz Restaurant and Lounge. “We are listening. We are showing up early. And it is my complete promise that we are going to invest. We are going to invest in the people on the ground, to invest in the communities that are doing the work.”

Launched Aug. 2, the tour has taken Fried across the state where she has, among many other things, championed the Florida Democratic Party’s $1 million investment into improving voter registration inside the party. Local parties, Fried said, will provide input about how to use the money so it’s spent wisely.

“We got to get our voter registration numbers up,” she added. “That is a must.”

The crowd was composed of members of various organizations, ranging from the Democratic Haitian American Caucus of Florida to the Asian American Democratic Club, as well as elected officials like Mayor Wayne Messam, State Rep. Dotie Joseph and Miami Gardens Councilwoman Linda Julien. If any Democrats were upset about the party’s penchant for only popping up as the election nears, no one voiced their criticism.

“I was satisfied with her responses,” said Lissette Fernandez, the co-founder of Mom’s for Libros. Fernandez had asked Fried about what parents can do to fight back against the removal of books from school curriculums. The chair mentioned how groups similar to Mom’s for Libros, which self-describes as parents seeking to challenge “politically motivated censorship,” are forming across the country. Fernandez was visibly excited as she waited to talk Fried about getting in contact with the other organizations.

Added Fernandez: “We’re better united.”

Messam also appeared committed to the party’s more proactive approach, challenging the audience to not stay home when it’s time to vote.

“I am sick and tired of us losing races,” Wessam said. The margins are often so tiny, he added, that “our communities can make a difference.”

Fried’s North Miami stop came just days after DeSantis flaunted Florida’s policies at the first Republican presidential debate. Since winning the governor’s race in 2018, DeSantis has signed legislation that limited the study of Black and LGBTQ+ history in schools, constrained immigrant rights and redrawn districts that curbed Black voting power.

Ask former State Rep. Daphne Campbell, however, and all hope is not lost.

“You want to take back Florida?” Campbell asked. “You do it united.”

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