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Recount looms in Ag Commissioner race, as Nikki Fried seizes lead

Democrat Nikki Fried now holds the lead over Republican Matt Caldwell in tabulated votes in the Agriculture Commissioner race.

Out of over 8.046 million votes counted, Fried leads by 2,885.

If she wins and replaces incumbent Adam Putnam, Fried would be the first Democrat in the Cabinet for a number of cycles.

Caldwell held a lead Tuesday night, but as votes slowly trickled in, most notably thousands of early and vote-by-mail votes in Democratic-leaning Broward County, the candidates’ totals moved to a flip.

“Since the first returns came in on election night, we have said that seeing through this process to the end, ensuring every vote is counted so the voices of Floridians are heard, and their will is respected—is the top priority,” Fried said.

“As Supervisors across our state work tirelessly to do just that, our support has grown and we are now leading by just under 600 votes—Florida Supervisors and Canvassing Boards are doing an incredible job of ensuring everyone’s voices are heard and the process is fair and transparent. We’re confident that by Saturday, when final results are certified, our lead will have grown, and the voters’ choice in the race for Agriculture Commissioner will be clear.”

On Thursday, both candidates urged supporters who had filed provisional ballots to follow through.

“If you cast a provisional ballot, make sure your vote is counted. Contact your Supervisor of Elections office **ASAP** before the 5pm deadline,” Fried tweeted.

Caldwell also pleaded with voters to check on the status of their ballots.

“This election is coming down to the wire,” he tweeted. “If you cast a provisional ballot we NEED you to contact your supervisor of elections by the 5pm deadline to make sure your vote for Matt Caldwell is counted.”

The Agriculture Commissioner contest was the first where the leader flipped as the counting of votes neared the 48-hour stage. However, two other seats are in play

But a U.S. Senate contest between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and Republican Rick Scott, who holds a 0.18 percent lead, continues to tighten.

And the gubernatorial election between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum, which Gillum conceded Tuesday night, just moved into automatic recount range with a .44 spread.

Florida law requires a machine recount if the margin between candidates falls with 0.5 percent. A manual recount of votes will occur if, after the second machine count, the margin remains with 0.25 percent.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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