ORLANDO, Fla. – Candidates are making their final push to voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.
News 6 political expert and UCF history professor Dr. Jim Clark joined anchor Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly” to preview some of the key races, including the Democratic primary for governor.
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While the marquee matchup between Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried appears to be tightening, Crist, a former governor and current congressman, has spent more money on campaign ads than his Democratic rival, which is critical to winning statewide elections in Florida.
“Florida is like California,” Clark said. “It has eight television markets, and you have to be in all of them. Florida is a very tough state to gain traction in.”
Fried, who was elected Florida agriculture commissioner in 2018, has been running on two main platforms: she’s the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida and the only pro-choice candidate in the race, pointing to Crist’s policies on abortion access when he was Florida’s Republican governor from 2007-11.
“The Roe v. Wade overturning might have helped Fried some, but she’s had a difficult time getting traction,” Clark said. “She does not have the money Charlie Crist has, which is not a lot compared to Gov. DeSantis.”
Clark said whoever comes out on top will have an uphill battle taking on Gov. DeSantis and the aforementioned record amount of campaign dollars he’s raised.
“Eight years ago, you and I were talking about Rick Scott setting spending records,” Clark said. “We thought nothing would ever top that, and it has already.”
Clark adds the makeup of Florida’s voters has shifted.
“For the first time in history, the number of Republicans has passed the number of Democrats. It’s about even. And remember, about a third of the voters are not affiliated with either party, so they’re going to be picking the next governor, the next senator. They’ll be having the deciding votes,” Clark said.
Other contests Clark discussed include the Democratic primary for attorney general and three congressional races: District 7, District 11 and District 10.
Even though Florida is a closed primary state, meaning you have to be a registered Democrat, Republican or otherwise to vote for specific races, there are a number of other positions up for grabs Tuesday.
Early voting ends in Orange and Osceola counties on Sunday.
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Watch the full interview in the video player above.