Ten candidates have filed to take over Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office in Tallahassee a year before the filing deadline.
This is higher than past years.
Out of the 10, seven filed under the Democratic Party and only one filed under the Republican Party. Two of the Democratic candidates, Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist, have had the strongest campaigns to oust DeSantis from office.
The deadline to register for the primary election in Florida is July 25, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
It is normal for people to file well before the deadline as a campaign strategy and to raise campaign funds, said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida and the treasurer of the Florida Political Science Association.
“Candidates don’t want to give their opponents a head start,” Jewett said. “It seems as people are trying to get a jump at campaigning, and they don’t want to be at a competitive disadvantage.”
DeSantis had not filed for reelection as of Friday afternoon. In the 2018 election, he filed six months before the deadline, according to Florida’s Division of Elections. He has reached national headlines with the possibility of him running for president in 2024, and FOX Business Network reported that former President Donald Trump is considering having DeSantis as his running mate.
Crist jumped into the race in May as a Democratic opponent despite previously serving Florida as a Republican governor from 2007 to 2011. His long resume as a state senator, state education commissioner, state attorney general and current U.S. House position puts him as a strong contender for the governor’s seat.
Fried announced and filed for candidacy on June 1, the day the governor signed an anti-transgender athlete bill into law on the first day of Pride Month.
Florida’s never seen a female governor, which could be both a disadvantage and an advantage to Fried’s campaign, Jewett said. Fried has been outspokenly critical of DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic, and the governor spoke out against Fried by calling her a “lockdown lobbyist” and saying she has done nothing in office.
Fried is currently Florida’s only state-elected Democrat, and Florida has not had a Democratic governor for more than two decades, but recently the governor’s race has been decided by one or two percentage points, said James Maggio, the chair of the Alachua County Democratic Party.
“Florida is very frustrating for Democrats on a statewide level,” Maggio said.
Fried and Crist are each other’s biggest opponents, but Fried said in an interview Thursday that Crist gave her a courtesy call before he filed for candidacy and she gave him one as well and that they have been in communication.
“Charlie and I are united on the same point that Ron DeSantis is a disaster for our state, and that we, as Democrats, have a better plan forward,” Fried said.
Fried said she filed a year earlier to have a lot of time to crisscross Florida and reach out to the people, raise money and create an infrastructure.
Jewett said there’s been a surge of Democratic women in office following Trump’s victory, so Fried should not have much disadvantage in the election and is unsure if this is going to be the time Florida will have a female governor.
“I would certainly say DeSantis is the favorite for reelection, no matter who the Democratic challenger is,” Jewett said. “Not an insurmountable favorite.”