TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Monday marks the start of the last full week of campaigning ahead of Florida's Aug. 23 primary. Politicians are preparing to make their final pitches to Florida, though many have already cast a ballot.
Whether by mail or at an early voting location, nearly 1.3 million Floridians have voted ahead of the election. Both parties have highly-contentious primary races helping drive turnout. Democrats and Republicans hoping to take that momentum into November's general election.
At the moment, Democrats have cast more votes, holding a nearly 83,000 vote margin over the GOP, according to Monday's latest state data. The hotly-contested Democratic nomination for governor is likely a big reason why.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who trails in most polling, hopes to overtake U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist. Some pundits suggest the race is tightening, and Fried is looking to capitalize in the time left.
Her campaign announced its last ad would run on TV the Monday before election night. Fried also intends to spend most of the week on the road, doing a bus tour across the state, with scheduled stops in key districts like Tallahassee, Jacksonville, the Tampa Bay area and South Florida.
FINAL TV AD: Won't Back Down— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) August 15, 2022
(airing statewide Monday) pic.twitter.com/nxfXIau92H
Fried campaign press secretary Caroline Korba believed the bus tour would help make a difference for Fried, who has struggled with name recognition since announcing.
"Our goal with this week is to get to as many voters as possible," Korba said. "We see that that's what really counts for voters. Their minds are changed if they had previously intended to vote for the other candidate once they meet her."
Crist is traveling in these final days, too, hosting numerous rallies.
He's launched a more than $1 million ad buy in Florida markets, running Aug. 16-22. Crist has also raised more than $1 million in August's first 11 days.
"Floridians are ready for a leader in Tallahassee who will put their needs above the corporate special interests," Crist said in a statement Monday morning. "Our campaign is mounting the biggest, strongest movement to make DeSantis a one-term governor, bringing the sunshine back to the Sunshine State."
Speaking of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Republican has focused on boosting GOP candidates from out-of-state and Republican school board candidates in the state this week. But the incumbent remains ready to face whomever Democrats nominate with a massive pile of cash on hand, nearly $135 million, according to state records through Aug. 5.
DeSantis' war chest is huge compared to his Democratic rivals. Neither Crist nor Fried is anywhere near that. Crist had about $4.5 million on hand through Aug. 5, while Fried had a little more than $1 million.