TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBS12) — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, an outspoken critic of Gov. Ron DeSantis, and the lone Democrat elected to his cabinet, called him a dictator after he signed a controversial elections bill in West Palm Beach.
DeSantis signed the bill while appearing in an "exclusive" on Fox News Thursday morning at the Airport Hilton in West Palm Beach.
"So are the Republicans afraid of taking their message to the people?" asked Fried, during a news conference on Thursday morning. "Because the only way they've been able to win elections is through lies, misinformation, fraud, and now voter suppression. But I can tell you the people of the state of Florida will not be suppressed, their voices will not be shut down. They will rise up. They will see Ron DeSantis for who he is, and that is an authoritarian dictator who is borderline fascism that we are seeing here in the state of Florida."
The governor's office said DeSantis signed the bill to safeguard the sanctity of Florida elections.
"Florida took action this legislative session to increase transparency and strengthen the security of our elections,” said Governor DeSantis. "Floridians can rest assured that our state will remain a leader in ballot integrity. Elections should be free and fair, and these changes will ensure this continues to be the case in the Sunshine State."
"We've never had these problems," said Fried. "I don't create problems and that's exactly what this piece of legislation was trying to fix. A problem that didn't exist. That wasn't an issue and this is just their mask of what is voter suppression."
Fried is expected to run for governor in 2022.