Race Analysis: Florida Ag Commissioner Democratic Primary

Dennis "Mitch" Maley
With Nikki Fried, the lone Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida, giving up her position as Agricultural Commissioner to run for governor, three democrats are vying for their party’s nomination.

Though Fried is a Democrat, she won the office in a strong year for her party which rallied tremendous turnout in the first midterm after Donald Trump was elected to office. 2022 is a much different political landscape, however, with Dems expected to have an uphill battle given President Biden’s low approval rating and Governor Ron DeSantis, who narrowly eeked out a victory in 2018, emerging as one of the most popular figures in the party.

Naomi Blemur is considered the party’s best chance of retaining the office. Blemur, 43, owns a consulting firm and has a background in finance. She has served on a number of advisory committees in Miami-Dade and has raised the most money of the three candidates, although it is a very small fraction of what the Republican frontrunner has raised.

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Blemur says, "The current reality of our state calls for a strong, diverse leader with convictions. One who is not afraid to challenge the process and speak truth to power. It took 20 years for Democrats to secure this seat and we’re not going to lose it now.”

Ryan Morales owns a marketing and business management firm and is a cannabis activist who owns a small hemp farm in Clermont. He is the former CMO of a wire fraud prevention firm. 

J.R. Gaillot is a legislative director and adviser who made an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2012. Gaillot's father was a Haitian diplomat, which took him around the world growing up. He speaks English, French, Haitian Creole, and Spanish. He has the best-defined platform of the three, promising to go after price gougers and other predatory businesses. He is endorsed by Blue America, a political action committee that supports progressive candidates.

Based on the lack of financial support and other interest, it seems that the Florida Democratic Party is all but conceding this race to Republican Wilton Simpson, the Florida Senate President who has far outraised every candidate in either party combined. That said, Blemur seems to have the most energy around her at the moment and likely has the best chance at an unlikely upset.

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