Crist for governor, because Fried is too close to Big Sugar

VoteWater has endorsed Charlie Crist in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, over Nikki Fried. There are several big reasons for this:

First, as we first reported last week, Fried’s campaign has taken a boatload – as in, more than half a million dollars – from PACs that get much of their funding from sugar companies. And as Jason Garcia of the important “Seeking Rents” Substack newsletter notes, her campaign has also taken lots of money from FPL – which is much in the news lately for, let’s say, less than savory things.

Fried also gets lots of cash from “dark money” groups that don’t have to disclose donors. Crist gets some – just 5% of his overall haul, Garcia notes – and hasn’t taken anything from the big sugar-related PACs.

So which candidate is going to be more beholden to Big Sugar and FPL, do you think?

Second, Crist has touted a new/revised plan to buy land in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) south of Lake Okeechobee to restore critical water flow south to the Everglades and Florida Bay. As former VoteWater/ board president Ray Judah wrote in a recent op-ed, this would be “a monumental step forward to enhance the management of the Lake Okeechobee watershed.”

Would it happen; could it happen? Agricultural interests are already ripping the plan. But that sort of makes the point: Crist appears willing to take on agricultural interests. Which becomes easier because he isn’t taking their campaign money.

Then there’s Fried.

Last week the Palm Beach Post reported that the new rules she supposedly pushed through to better regulate the noxious practice of sugar cane burning were virtually all show. As Garcia put it, the new rules “didn’t really change anything at all. All they did was give the appearance of better regulation.”

Then Big Sugar turned around and cited the new rules as proof of how they were strictly regulated by the government, using this as a defense in a lawsuit filed by Glades residents who sought to stop the burning.

Fried’s response to the report? She suggested, without any proof, that the journalists involved in the story were paid off by the Sierra Club.

Come on.

Recent polls show Fried pulling ahead, but this race is close. And Fried’s loyalties have been made pretty clear. She’s too close to the special interests which, in large part, are bankrolling her run. And if elected, we’d certainly expect her governance to reflect that.

That makes Crist the better choice, hands down.