Sen. Annette Taddeo's dropout not expected to have major impact on primary battle for Florida governor

'I think that a lot of people really don't have a good sense of the positions of many of the [primary] candidates,' Associate Professor Hans Hassell says
Posted at 6:47 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 18:47:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — State Sen. Annette Taddeo is out of the race for governor.

Does her departure have enough force to shake things up in the primary battle between the two remaining Democrats?

Political experts don't think so.

Associate Florida State University Professor Hans Hassell said Taddeo didn't have the name recognition to make that big of an impact. He expected voters would divide support evenly between the clear frontrunner, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

"At the gubernatorial level, I think that a lot of people really don't have a good sense of the positions of many of the candidates," Hassell said. "Especially a really minor candidate, who was pulling 5 or 6%."

Associate Florida State University Professor Hans Hassell
Associate Florida State University Professor Hans Hassell gives insight on the Democratic primary in the Florida governor's race.

Following Taddeo's announcement, Crist endorsed his former running mate in her new bid for Florida's 27th Congressional District. He also wished her well in a Monday statement.

"Senator Taddeo is a dear friend and a force to be reckoned with," said Florida's 13th District Congressman. "She is a tireless public servant and fearless advocate for working Floridians across the Sunshine State and in South Florida."

Fried, meanwhile, has tried to capitalize on Taddeo's dropout.

In recent tweets Fried called herself the only lifelong Democrat still in the running. In a statement on Taddeo's pivot, Fried referred to Crist as a "three-time statewide loser."

"Democrats need someone they can trust," Fried told us Tuesday. "At the end of the day, that's just not Charlie."

Fried said her goal is to remind voters of Crist's record. She's been hitting the former Republican especially hard on his muddled record on abortion.

"Do they want somebody who has been in the trenches, who knows how to win our state as a Democrat?" said Fried. "Or somebody who shows up to the game when he knows he's losing another match."

Polling has Fried trailing Crist by double digits.

Hassell thinks she will likely start taking bigger risks in the coming weeks. He said to expect more fiery rhetoric and political tactics to offset the lack of endorsements, money and short time.

"She'll go out on a limb and try a variety of things, I think, to try to fundamentally get people to reconsider their choices and their preferences," Hassell said. "But, she's got a really large gap in the polls, and that's going to be hard to overcome."

Florida's primary is on Aug. 23. The victor will face Republican incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis on Nov. 8.