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Nikki Fried to speak at Democratic National Convention

The Florida agriculture commissioner will join 16 rising party stars for Tuesday night keynote address
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried speaks during the general assembly at the Florida Democratic State Convention Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried speaks during the general assembly at the Florida Democratic State Convention Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Aug. 16, 2020
Updated Aug. 17, 2020

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will have a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention, the party announced Sunday.

Fried will join 16 other Democratic rising stars to deliver a joint keynote address on Tuesday under the theme “Leadership Matters.” Together, they’ll speak about the Democratic Party’s vision for America and display the faces who are shaping the future of the party.

As the only Florida Democrat to win a statewide race in 2018, Fried will represent the country’s largest swing state in the convention; no other Floridian currently has a speaking role in the festivities. The distinction further solidifies Fried as the de facto leader of the Florida Democratic Party.

The convention next week will be far from traditional. Few attendees will actually travel to Milwaukee because of the coronavirus and the party has planned virtual speeches and other programming in lieu of filling an arena. Former Vice President Joe Biden will accept the party’s nomination from afar.

“Amidst all of the chaos and crises our nation is facing, Democrats are focused on finding new and innovative ways to engage more Americans than ever before—because that’s how we’ll mobilize the nation to defeat Donald Trump in November,” said Joe Solmonese, CEO of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. “The convention keynote has always been the bellwether for the future of our party and our nation, and when Americans tune in next week they’ll find the smart, steady leadership we need to meet this critical moment.”

Fried, a former marijuana lobbyist, was politically unknown before winning the state agriculture commissioner race in 2018. Her swift rise to prominence has immediately thrust her into the conversation of Democrats poised to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, in 2022.

Related: As Ron DeSantis slips in Florida polls, Democratic challengers for governor are starting to emerge

Joining Fried on Tuesday are state representatives, mayors and members of congress from across the country who reflect the racial, ethnic, regional and sexual diversity of the party. They include Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s 2018 Democratic candidate for governor who Biden’s shortlist for running mate, former NFL player and U.S. Rep. Colin Allred of Texas, and Robert Garcia, the first openly gay mayor of Long Beach, Calif.

The convention will take place over four nights, starting Monday, with programming that will air each night beginning at 9 p.m.