Financial disclosure forms, a legacy of the progressive good government Florida of yesteryear are sometimes very difficult to navigate. However, large errors like the one Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried previously made and amended right before she jumped into the Governor’s race, give fodder to political opponents even if they are largely innocuous mistakes.
My opinion is if viewed in isolation these mistakes are simply that – one-off unintentional errors that any officeholder or office seeker makes perhaps more regularly than we might think.
But when seen as part of a larger picture, it’s hard to think Fried can get away with an accumulation of such unforced errors. And even if Democrats feel it’s in their best interests to lay off her, no question the GOP, led by the Republican Governor’s Association will pile on and connect the dots.
Last month, Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch outlined why he believed Fried’s Gubernatorial campaign may be a “train wreck waiting to happen,” in a longer column about Fried’s recent history of snafus. This was before the latest financial disclosure revelations.
The bottom line is this – whether Democratic insiders think these sorts of discussion points are fair or unfair, both the media and GOP won’t be very generous. Given that Democrats have found every conceivable way to lose statewide in the last two decades, the standards internally need to be tightened and potential nominees need to be highly scrutinized before the primaries. We learned with Andrew Gillum that if Democratic elites turn a blind eye to obvious flaws based on perceived ethical transgressions in a potential nominee, the results in November can be an unexpected disaster.
Fried’s potential star power is enormous, but she gives off both in her unforced errors and in the interviews I have seen with her a “not ready for prime time” vibe. This is certainly curable 14 months out from a primary but may not be solvable as we move further down the road, unless it is properly addresses now.
From the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
For Democrats it’s difficult to create a narrative of actual contrast with Governor Ron DeSantis, if your torch bearer is constantly finding herself in cleaning up snafu after snafu – even if each individual incident is on its own not that serious. The pattern is clear if you are a political opponent of Fried’s or a Republican – she cannot be trusted to exercise sound judgement at the most critical times.
While Fried is certainly preferable to DeSantis is every tangible way, these continued errors likely mean her margin for error is tightening in terms of actually proving to voters she’s different than he is in the most fundamental ways that matter to average Floridians. Charlie Crist for all his detractors has a endured a lifetime of public scrutiny – much of unfair, but given that reality he seems better positioned to actually be able to create a contrast with DeSantis at least at the current time.