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Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried.
Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried.Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Steve Cannon/ AP

Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried blast each other on the airwaves

The winner of Florida's Democratic primary for governor will face GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis in the general election this fall.


Rep. Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried are escalating their attacks in Florida's Democratic gubernatorial primary.

In the last few weeks, their ads have become increasingly heated as they battle it out ahead of the August 23 primary.

In one recent ad, Fried, who is the only statewide elected Democrat, compared their records on criminal justice.

"While I was a public defender, fighting to keep innocent Floridians out of jails ... he was passing mandatory minimums during the racist war on drugs," she tells viewers.

"People are still in jail today because of it, and worse, he’s never apologized," Fried adds.

In the same ad, Fried accuses Crist of being "pro-life," while she identifies as "pro-choice." Crist has used the pro-life label before, but clarified recently that he supports a woman's choice to receive an abortion.

Crist, a former governor of Florida, has hit back at Fried with the same force.

In one recent ad, he accused her of campaigning for Florida Republicans.

"Charlie Crist campaigned for Barack Obama. Nikki Fried campaigned for Florida Republicans," a narrator says in the ad.

"When Crist was working to elect pro-choice Democratic women, Fried was calling for Hillary Clinton to be arrested and was close pals with accused sex trafficker [Rep.] Matt Gaetz," the narrator adds.

Fried and Gaetz have sought common ground and have engaged in friendly ways on Twitter.

So far, Fried has spent about $950,000 on the airwaves and Crist has spent $643,000. But a PAC backing Crist, Friends of Charlie Crist, has spent $2.2 million on ads attacking Fried and boosting Crist, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm.