Agriculture Commissioner candidate and Lehigh Acres Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell rolled out a string of endorsements from his Republican colleagues in the state house.
Caldwell earned the support of five Republican representatives: Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle, Heather Fitzenhagen, Bob Rommel and Ray Rodrigues.
“I am proud to have unanimous support from House members in Southwest Florida, a tight-knit and dynamic group who share conservative principles and have been effective in shaping policy and ensuring prosperity for the Sunshine State. Floridians deserve a Commissioner who is a true conservative that can lead in Tallahassee on day one and, with hard work and God’s blessing, our campaign will be successful,” Caldwell said.
Rodrigues, Donalds and Eagle praised Caldwell as a conservative leader, Fitzenhagen lauded him for for his “understanding and experience, while Rommel described the Lee County Republican as the candidate who best embodied his ideals for the next commissioner: “resilient, hardworking and knowledgeable about the issues our farmers deal with on a daily basis.”
“Matt Caldwell’s proven record of leadership and success in the Florida House make him the most qualified person for this important office,” Fitzenhagen said. “I am thrilled to support Matt and I urge you to join me in voting for him.”
The Southwest Florida quintet chose the fourth-term HD 79 representative over his major primary opponent, Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley, who on Tuesday was gifted the opportunity for some on-the-job training when Senate President Joe Negron named her chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The pair are looking to take over for Adam Putnam, who is termed out of the job and is running to be governor in 2018, and both of them have found quite a bit of fundraising success.
Grimsley announced last week that she had raised a total of $1.1 million through her campaign and “Saving Florida’s Heartland” committee. Caldwell’s total fundraising through his campaign account and “Friends of Matt Caldwell” committee crossed the $1 million mark at the end of July. He has $878,000 of that money on hand.
Also running in the Republican Primary are former Rep. Baxter Troutman and Paul Paulson, both of whom have dumped large sums of their own money into their campaigns. Troutman filed in mid-June and added $2.5 million into his bid, while Paulson has put nearly $400,000 of his own money into the race.