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Matt Caldwell


Matt Caldwell to make campaign swing through Jacksonville Saturday

Republican Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner nominee Matt Caldwell will be introducing himself to Jacksonville voters Saturday, making his first general election swing through Northeast Florida.

Caldwell will be at the local Republican Party of Florida HQ (10111-6 San Jose Blvd.) at 10 a.m. for a meet and greet.

Caldwell emerged from a competitive primary, and in the Jacksonville market, he finished second to Baxter Troutman, whose campaign was managed by local Carlo Fassi and was endorsed by Mayor Lenny Curry.

However, he made up for it elsewhere, winning 43 counties statewide.

However, the primary is in the rear view mirror, and Republicans would likely agree that the differences between Caldwell and Democratic nominee Nikki Fried indeed are stark.

In the first couple of weeks since the nominations were decided, campaign discourse has revolved around the issue of medical cannabis — an outlier compared to previous general election campaigns.

Fried, a lobbyist for the increasingly well-capitalized companies in the sphere, has contended that smokable cannabis should be offered to medical patients — a position now so firmly ensconced in the Democratic orthodoxy that even Sen. Bill Nelson espouses it.

Caldwell, who voted for the implementation legislation, thinks smoke is a draw too far: “…smoking is not a medicinal delivery system…[the smoking lawsuit] is just a fig leaf for full recreational use…”

Though it’s uncertain if the issue of medical cannabis will move voters in November, what’s clear is that polls show voters more closely align with Fried’s position on the issue. 66 percent believe that medical patients should be able to smoke cannabis, while 24 percent align with the Caldwell position.

Polling between Fried and Caldwell is much closer, however; per St. Pete’s Polls, Fried is up by 1.8 percent.

Through Aug. 31, Fried was up in the cash on hand race, with $220,000 compared to $72,000 for Caldwell, who faced a much more competitive primary than the Democrat.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at

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