North Fort Myers Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell announced Thursday that Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida has endorsed him in the Republican Primary to replace termed-out Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
“We are thrilled to announce that we are endorsing Matt Caldwell for Commissioner of Agriculture,” ABC board chair Mary Tappouni said. “Matt is a principled conservative who will fight to ensure that every Florida resident and business has the opportunity to succeed in the Sunshine State and grow our economy.”
Caldwell is running in a three-way GOP primary for the post alongside state Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Rep. Baxter Troutman. Democrat David Walker is also running for the Cabinet seat.
The endorsement from the construction trade group follows several “waves” of endorsements for the fourth-term HD 79 representative which have included several of his Republican colleagues in the Florida House from the Panhandle, Northeast Florida, Southwest Florida and South Florida delegations, a handful of county constitutional officers and a nod from U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.
Paul Paulson, a one-time primary rival, also announced he would step aside and support Caldwell in the race.
“I am proud to receive the support of ABC Florida, a true champion of conservative values and free market principles. This exceptional group of individuals have fought to ensure that government does not get in the way of business in Florida and I too will continue fighting for economic prosperity in our great state,” Caldwell said in a press release.
The Caldwell campaign went on to tout October fundraising numbers which showed the Lee County Republican had raised about $1.37 million and has about $934,000 on hand between his campaign account and political committee, iGrow PC.
Through the same date, Grimsley had raised a total of $1.91 million and had about $884,000 on hand, while Troutman had raised $2.61 million and had $2.56 million on hand. His total is buoyed by $2.5 million of his own money.