TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After being ousted from office by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, departing U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will have a hand in an upcoming inaugural in Tallahassee.
Agriculture Commissioner-elect Nikki Fried, the only Democrat to win statewide in the Nov. 6 election, named Nelson an honorary co-chair as part of her inauguration leadership committee. Nelson served in the Senate for almost two decades before losing to Scott following a statewide manual-recount in November.
Fried, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and onetime medical marijuana lobbyist, tapped her sister, Jenni Shaffren, and Ben Pollara as event chairs. Pollara served as a senior advisor to Fried’s campaign, and was also the campaign manager for United for Care, a political committee that backed the voter-approved 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.
The who’s-who of Fried supporters involved in her inaugural events also includes Miguel “Mike” Fernandez, a Miami billionaire and former Republican donor who dropped his GOP registration after parting ways with President Donald Trump and others over issues including guns and immigration.
Fried’s other honorary chairs include state Senate Minority Leader Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville; House Minority Leader Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami; and Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo.