The Center Square
By John Haughey
October 20, 2021

 

Florida Sen. Annette Taddeo speaks during a legislative session, Friday, April 30, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

(The Center Square) – State Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, confirmed months of speculation Monday when she announced she would become the 10th Democrat to seek the party’s nod to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2022 gubernatorial election.

Taddeo staged a news conference outside the Florida Division of Elections Monday morning after officially filing her candidate papers following “exploratory meetings” across the state since May.

“The calls were even more intense as time went by, which showed that there was a real hunger for a fighter and a leader that will actually bring the coalition that we need to win this state,” Taddeo said. “And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Taddeo, 54, immediately joins the front-runners in the crowded Democratic gubernatorial field along with state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist.

Others who have signed up to run for the Democratic gubernatorial race: David Freeman, Ivan Graham, Jonathan Karns, Amaro Lionheart, Alexander Lundmark, Timothy Mosley and Robert Willis are also pursuing the gubernatorial nomination.

Taddeo was Miami-Dade County Democratic Party chair when Crist, the former Republican governor who unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat in 2014, chose her to be his lieutenant governor candidate.

Taddeo said she has “tremendous respect” for her former running mate “but this race is not about Charlie or about me. This race is about the future of Florida.”

Taddeo was first elected to the state Senate in a 2017 special election. She was re-elected to a full four-year term in 2018.

If elected, Taddeo, who was born in Columbia, would be the first woman governor of Florida and the second Hispanic governor of the state after Republican Bob Martinez, from 1987-91.

Taddeo has been critical of the Democratic Party’s messaging to Hispanics, who make up nearly 27% of the state’s population, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

She said she can reclaim much of the support Republicans gained among Hispanics throughout Florida in 2020, especially in South Florida, by speaking directly with Hispanic and African-American voters as part of a grassroots campaign to create a “winning coalition.”

“Candidates need to reflect the coalition” if the Democrats truly want that “winning coalition,” Taddeo said, calling on more Latinas to run for public office.

With 10 months to go before the August primaries, Taddeo’s campaign starts with little in the bank.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, she has raised no money officially as a candidate while her political committee, Fight Back Florida, had less than $500,000 available on Monday.

Crist raised nearly $1.6 million between May 3 to Sept. 30, according to the latest finance records from the Division, and spent $848,293 of that time.

His PAC, Friends of Charlie Crist, raised $2.236 million from early May to late September, according to the Division, and spent about $121,000.

Fried raised $883,619 for her gubernatorial campaign from June 1 to Sept. 30, according to the Division and spent $218,540.

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Fried’s PAC, Florida Consumers First, raised about $1 million from early June to late September and $4.7-million overall since May of 2018 with about $2.4 million of that unspent.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has not formally filed his personal campaign account with the Division. His PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis, has raised $101.5 million since Jan. 1 2018 and spent $43,166,348.57.

The other 11 gubernatorial candidates, including Republican John Joseph Mercadante, have raised little money, according to Division records.

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