Today’s entry: Brian, why do you think Nikki Fried hasn’t officially announced a run for governor? It’s obvious to everyone she wants to.
Bottom Line: This is a topic we’ve discussed a few times, and I first addressed it with Agricultural Commissioner, Nikki Fried last August. The biggest surprise to most is that her statement to me last August remains the closest public statement she’s made regarding a possible run for governor next year. But here’s the thing. It’s not likely a coincidence. A lot changed since last August in the landscape of Florida’s political scene. Donald Trump was still president, there was no firm timetable on vaccines and Governor DeSantis’s pandemic approach wasn’t yet validated.
Nikki is stuck between a political rock and a hard place. She’s made clear to all who’ve paid attention that she wants to be Florida’s next governor. But unless Governor DeSantis’s ratings fall significantly, nothing she does in her campaign would matter. In Florida, you can’t run for two statewide offices at the same time. If she decides to run for governor, she’ll have to vacate her current post to do it. That’s why she’d not done it and may never end up doing it.
While it’s no certainty that she’d win re-election as Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner if she chooses to run for re-election, you'd have to think she’d stand a better chance than running against a highly popular governor. That's her current calculous, run for the job she wants and hope something happens that significantly dents DeSantis’s popularity or run for re-election and hope to run for governor after DeSantis is out of the picture, at least as Florida’s governor.
DeSantis’s approval rating reached the low 40% range based on the pollsters around then. A number that made him look highly vulnerable and a politician like Nikki Fried, who clearly wants DeSantis’s job to begin preparing for a run for that office. But then everything changed, including DeSantis’s approval rating. As I’ve discussed, Florida has had a below-average number of population-adjusted COVID-19 cases and deaths while having the 7th least restrictive policy during the pandemic. This has led to an economy that is among the best nationally, with well below-average unemployment.
Last week the polling firm Cygnal, became the third in a row to show Governor DeSantis with an approval rating in the mid-'50s. You can compare that to President Biden’s net-positive approval rating of 1% in Florida. To put this another way, polling could be off by as much as 8% in favor of DeSantis and he’d still be well-positioned in his-reelection bid.
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Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio