Nikki Fried Challenges Ron DeSantis on Twitter for His Handling of the COVID Pandemic and More

Joe Duncan

The battle for the Governor's seat is heating up online

Nikki Fried has been on a roll lately, unrelentingly keeping up the pressure on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Twitter as she aims to solidify her chances as a serious contender to be Florida's next Governor. DeSantis is beleaguered and embattled on all sides, taking shots from various media outlets, school districts, parents, the Florida voters, and more.

He's sunk in popularity over the last few months, in the wake of the "fourth wave" of the COVID pandemic, driven largely by the delta variant that's swept across Florida.

The variant, which is much more spreadable than the first few variants to hit the United States, has left a trail of wreckage in its path as it's taken tens of thousands of lives in just the past few weeks.

To be fair to DeSantis, the Governor can't entirely control the spread of the virus.

Many thought Ms. Fried's candidacy was a long shot when she announced her intention to challenge Ron DeSantis earlier this year, in June of 2021. But she's come a long way since then and is now starting to build a grassroots network of progressives who follow her and are ready to vote for her right now.

Ms. Fried is already presenting herself as a formidable Democratic challenger to Governor DeSantis, at least in terms of her social media game.

The Agricultural Commissioner has also taken DeSantis to the cleaners for what she considers a lack of transparency over the COVID-19 pandemic and mishandling of the pandemic response. She says that he's chosen unscientific advisors and downplayed the effectiveness of the vaccine, focusing his efforts on treatment after the fact rather than prevention with the vaccine. It should be noted, that a sizeable chunk of DeSantis' supporters is either against the vaccine or vaccine skeptical. They also disagree with mask-wearing in larger numbers than their Democratic counterparts.

Many, but not all of them, have supported him every step of the way with his battle to ban mask mandates in Florida schools.

She's showing her support for President Biden widely on Twitter in order to get attention from her base and prove she's a formidable challenger for the Florida Governorship. But can she really beat DeSantis?

Time will tell.

Governor DeSantis has enjoyed a comfortable tenure as the state's Governor, with higher than usual approval ratings and generally scoring high in polls. That is, up until the last few months, as the 4th wave of the pandemic sunk its teeth into Florida.

Since late June, DeSantis' poll numbers and approval ratings have plummeted as he's doubled down on extreme right-wing views, believes, and tactics to address the threat of COVID-19. He's signed aggressive mask mandate bans that were deeply unpopular with most Floridians. He signed a vaccine passport ban that forced the State into private business establishments and told them how to conduct their business.

Mrs. Fried still has to win the Democratic primary election before she can go on to challenge the Governor, of course, meaning she'll have to topple former Governor Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned-Democrat who's been involved in Florida politics since 1992. Crist announced his bid for the Governorship about a month before Fried did.

This will be no easy task. Crist is a seasoned veteran and a household name in Florida politics. Fried is a relative newcomer from the marijuana industry who made a splash with a surprise victory in 2018, starting her public life as the Agricultural Commissioner in 2019.

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