Nikki Fried

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Nikki Fried
Commissioner Fried portrait.jpg
12th Florida Commissioner of Agriculture
Assumed office
January 8, 2019
GovernorRon DeSantis
Preceded byAdam Putnam
Personal details
Born (1977-12-13) December 13, 1977 (age 42)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Florida (BA, MA, JD)

Nicole Heather Fried[1] (born December 13, 1977) is an American lawyer from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the 12th Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. She is the first woman elected to the position, the first Democrat to hold it since 2001, and the only Democrat currently holding statewide elected office in Florida.

Early life and education[edit]

A native of Miami,[2] Fried graduated from the University of Florida, where she was student body president.[2][3] She graduated from the University of Florida College of Law.[3] Fried also earned a master's degree in political campaigning from the University of Florida.[4]


After graduating in 2003, Fried worked at the law firm of Holland & Knight. She became a public defender for Florida's eighth judicial circuit in 2006, covering Alachua County and other counties. Fried was a foreclosure defense lawyer from 2009 until 2011, when she joined the law and lobbying firm of Colodny Fass.[4] Fried worked as a lobbyist for many interests, including the school boards, foster children, and later the marijuana industry.[2] Among her clients as a lobbyist were the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Walt Disney Co., Duke Energy, and HCA Healthcare. In 2016, Fried established her own lobbying firm; her main client was the School Board of Broward County.[4]

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services[edit]

2018 election[edit]

Fried won the Democratic nomination for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2018, defeating primary opponents Jeffrey Duane Porter (the mayor of Homestead) and Roy David Walker (an environmental activist) by a broad margin.[5] Fried was criticized by her primary opponents for her past campaign contributions to Republicans.[1]

In the general election, Fried faced off against Republican nominee state Representative Matt Caldwell,[6] of North Fort Myers, a real estate appraiser.[7]

Fried ran on a platform in favor of removing obstacles to medical marijuana in Florida, criticizing the state government's inaction in implementing the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (Amendment 2), in which Florida voters approved the right of qualified patients to use marijuana.[8] Fried described herself as "a fierce advocate for expanding access to medical marijuana for suffering Floridians"[6] and called for placing regulation of medical marijuana in the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services rather than the Department of Health.[9] Along with other Democratic candidates, Fried supported a state-run bank to provide financing for the marijuana industry, noting other banks' policies serving marijuana-related businesses.[8] During her 2018 campaign, Fried also pledged to "ensure full background checks are completed on gun permits"; in Florida, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is charged with issuing concealed carry permits, and incumbent Commissioner Adam Putnam was criticized after it was revealed in 2018 that his office failed to complete background checks before issuing tens of thousands of permits. In fact,it was less than 300 which were revoked when the mistakes of 3 civil service employees were caught during an audit. Applications aren't handled directly by the Ag Commissioner. They are handled by state civil service employees working under an FDACS "bureau chief" over CCW licensing.[9] Fried also pledged to "put science before politics and put our waterways first" if elected.[9] Fried also endorsed Amendment 4, which would automatically restore voting rights for most felons after the completion of their sentences (see felon disenfranchisement in Florida).[2]

Fried was endorsed by the Tampa Bay Times,[2] the Sun Sentinel,[10] and the Palm Beach Post.[11] Fried received the endorsements of the Everglades Trust, Sierra Club, Equality Florida, and Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, while Caldwell received the endorsements of business and industry groups, including the Florida Farm Bureau's political action committee, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida.[7]

Fried won an extremely tight election. While initial returns on Election Day showed Caldwell in the lead, by the completion of the count Fried narrowly pulled ahead with a margin of just 0.06% of votes separating the two candidates:[6] Following a machine recount and a manual (hand) recount, Fried maintained and slightly expanded her lead, ultimately winning by 6,753 votes (0.08%).[7] While Caldwell initially sued the Broward County supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes over the counting of ballots, Caldwell dropped the lawsuit and conceded defeat on November 19.[7] Fried became the first Democrat to win the Commissioner of Agriculture position since 1998, the only Democrat to win a statewide race in Florida in 2018, and the first Democrat elected to a statewide executive position in Florida since Alex Sink served as Chief Financial Officer from 2007 to 2011.[7]

Electoral history[edit]

Commissioner of Agriculture[edit]

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Nikki Fried 4,032,954 50.04% +8.71%
Republican Matt Caldwell 4,026,201 49.96% -8.71%
Total votes 8,059,155 100.0% N/A
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ a b Bruce Ritchie, Democratic ag commissioner candidate donated to Republicans, Politico (August 2, 2018).
  2. ^ a b c d e Times recommends: Nikki Fried for agriculture commissioner, Tampa Bay Times (October 1, 2018)
  3. ^ a b Nikki Fried, LeRoy Collins Institute, Florida State University.
  4. ^ a b c Dan Sweeney, Where does Nikki Fried go from here?, South Florida Sun-Sentinel (November 22, 2018).
  5. ^ Craig Pittman, William March & Emily L. Mahoney, Broward attorney Nikki Fried wins Democratic nomination for Agriculture commissioner, Tampa Bay Times (August 28, 2018).
  6. ^ a b c Samantha J. Gross, Fried declares victory in Cabinet race, announces transition team ahead of recount, Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau (November 10, 2018).
  7. ^ a b c d e Bruce Ritchie, Caldwell concedes agriculture commissioner race after manual recount shows Fried winner, Politico (November 19, 2018).
  8. ^ a b Nikki Fried, fellow Democratic candidates call for a state-run bank to manage medical cannabis funds, Orlando Weekly (October 30, 2018).
  9. ^ a b c Jessica Weiss, Agriculture Commissioner Candidates Discuss Medical Marijuana, Guns, WLRN (October 19, 2018).
  10. ^ Nikki Fried offers ideas, Matt Caldwell offers the usual, in race for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Sun-Sentinel (October 2, 2018).
  11. ^ Editorial: Fried offers fresh direction as Agriculture Commissioner, Palm Beach Post (October 1, 2018).

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Adam Putnam
Agriculture Commissioner of Florida