Six Democrats are running for governor in Florida

Democrat primary slated for Aug. 23.

Published: February 6, 2022 4:36pm

Updated: February 7, 2022 11:54pm

(The Center Square) -

Democrats in Florida have a while to go to decide who they’ll vote for during the primary election scheduled for Aug. 23. So far, six candidates are running ahead of the filing deadline of June 17. Three have held public office, three have never run for any public office.

Long-term Florida politician Charlie Crist is running for governor a third time after having lost his bid in 2014. He’s the only candidate in state history to run for governor as both a Republican and a Democrat. Crist was elected as Florida’s 44th governor as a Republican in 2006. He ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014 and lost.

He first ran for public office in 1992 when he ran for state senator as a Republican and won. He later served in the cabinet of former Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican. He then ran, and won, as the first Republican attorney general to be elected in Florida history.

In 2010, he left the Republican Party to become an Independent, and became a Democrat in 2012. In 2016, he ran for Congress as a Democrat and won, serving for nearly four years as of this year, when he declared he was running for governor again.

He’s criticized Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and praised Democratic President Joe Biden, and says he’d implement policies that are the opposite of DeSantis’ policies. Crist claims on his campaign website that he’s “been fighting for the people his whole life. Every Floridian is a neighbor and working to help his neighbor and fighting for what’s right is a lifelong calling.” Critics argue that it’s hard to know what he means since he “was fighting for what’s right” as a Republican for the majority of his career.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is also running for governor. She’s an outspoken critic of DeSantis and politicians in Tallahassee whom she describes are part of the “good old boy network.” She considers herself an outsider with a list of “firsts” as accomplishments. She argues Floridians “are tired of seeing the same name on the ballot year after year – politicians who have been in government for decades and lost touch with what’s happening in Florida.”

Fried ran for office for the first time in 2018 after serving as a public defender, advocate for the marijuana industry, and an advocate for public schools and foster children.

Amaro Lionheart is running for governor to build “a movement focused on inclusion, empowerment and unity … to bring change, hope and prosperity to the people of Florida” against “political power elites.” His campaign website includes suggestions for reforms and no description of his professional background or qualifications.

According to Ballotpedia, he earned his bachelor’s and graduate degree from Saint Thomas University. Even though he’s running as a Democrat, he describes himself as a “populist candidate,” as well as a celebrity, broadcaster and radio pioneer in Cuba and the U.S.

Vero Beach resident Alex Lundmark is also running for governor. His campaign website includes gun violence and criminal justice reform as issues, and no mention of qualifications or professional experience.

According to Ballotpedia, Lundmark was born in Russia and adopted by an American family. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Central Florida and worked as an airline pilot, crypto asset manager, and real estate broker.

Jacksonville businessman David Nelson Freeman is also running for governor. His campaign website is a landing page. No information about his qualifications or political platform appears to be publicly available.

Annette Taddeo, state senator and chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, is also running for governor. Taddeo was elected to the state senate in 2016, where she’s served on several committees. She ran for Congress in 2016 and lost, and for lieutenant governor in 2014 and lost.

Taddeo who was born in Colombia, fled to the U.S. after her father was kidnapped by a Marxist terrorist group funded by the Cuban regime. She’s run a successful small business for 30 years, which offers translations in more than 240 languages.

“In public life, where other Democrats fell short,” she said, she “came out on top” when she was elected in 2017 as the first Latina Democrat to state Senate. She says she’s “a true Democratic leader and the only candidate who has championed Democratic values her entire career.” She’s hoping to become the first female and Latina governor in Florida.

The Economist describes her as “the most compelling candidate” in the 2022 election.

Whoever wins in the primary will run against incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who’s seeking re-election.

Three other candidates are also running for governor; one as an Independent, one on the Unity Party ticket and one with no party affiliation.

All candidates are expected to face an uphill battle against an increasingly popular DeSantis, who has a war chest of $72 million.

Although DeSantis has played down presidential rumors and expressed his commitment to being Florida’s governor, many political operatives and news organizations identify DeSantis as one of the top Republican presidential nominees in the 2024 election.

Florida Democratic National Committeeman Sean Shaw told The New Republic, “It’s Trump or DeSantis, and only one of those people is on the ballot prior to 2024, and that’s Ron DeSantis. Meaning, if you wanted to do something to stop him, you would have to do it in Florida.”

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