Add state Senator Denise Grimsley to the growing list of Florida politicos thinking about 2018.
The Sebring Republican said Tuesday that she is considering a 2018 run for Agriculture Commissioner. A registered nurse and hospital administrator, Grimsley said in a interview via text message that agriculture has always played a big role in her life.
“It’s a big decision and one I’ve been discussed with both my family and my employer,” she said. “Agriculture has always been a big part of my life and having someone hold the office who brings the unique qualification of hands on farming and ranching is important to me.”
While most 2018 chatter has been about who will occupy the Governor’s Mansion, the race to be the next Agriculture Commissioner has been thrust into the spotlight in recent days. Former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced last week he would not run for the office in two years.
With deep roots in the state’s agriculture community, Crisafulli was considered to be a frontrunner to win the Republican nomination to succeed Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who can’t run for re-election because of term limits.
His decision to pass on 2018 leaves a wide open Republican field, and could give Grimsley an edge.
A fifth generation Floridian, Grimsley was first elected to the Florida House in 2004, where she served until 2012. Grimsley was elected to the Florida Senate in 2012. She ran unopposed in 2016 and easily won re-election. She served as the Senate’s deputy Majority Leader from 2014-16.
A member of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, Grimsley touts the work she’s done for the agriculture community on her Facebook page.
“Over the past few years, we have partnered together in assisting farmers affected by natural disasters and raising the profile of Florida’s first-class agricultural community; communicating the economic development challenges and needs of small counties and rural areas; (and) finding common sense solutions for quality health care and the desperate need for more qualified health professionals like nurses,” she wrote.
Grimsley isn’t the only name being floated as a possible 2018 contender. Rep. Matt Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, is also believed to be eyeing the office. Last week told FloridaPolitics.com that he has discussed the possibility with his wife, who has said she is “comfortable with that if that’s the decision” he makes.
Caldwell cannot run for re-election in 2018 because of term limits.
Also in the mix are state Reps. Ben Albritton and Halsey Beshears.
In a statement Wednesday, Grimsley said she expects to make a decision about 2018 soon.
“I’ve been humbled by all the calls I’ve received offering support,” she said. “You can expect to hear more soon.”
Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster contributed to this story.