Florida builders back Wilton Simpson for Agriculture Commissioner

Simpson, Wilton - 1
Simpson is the frontrunner to replace exiting Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida endorsed Senate President Wilton Simpson for Agriculture Commissioner on Thursday.

“We have known Senator Simpson throughout his entire legislative career and are thrilled to announce our endorsement of him in his race for Commissioner of Agriculture,” said Gary Griffin, ABCFL’s Board Chair and the CEO of B&I Contractors.

“Construction is a heavily regulated industry with rules that may change based on who is funding the project or where it is being built. Senate President Simpson has worked with us continuously to establish regulatory frameworks that are streamlined, uniform and transparent while maintaining a strong focus on public safety.”

Though two other Republicans are vying to replace Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried in the Cabinet post, Simpson was considered the frontrunner for the Republican nomination well before he entered the race three months ago.

That’s largely because he received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who carried Florida in 2020.

Simpson’s strong fundraising operation — he had about $8 million banked on Nov. 30 — combined with GOP voter registration gains and the party’s historically strong advantage in midterm elections make him the clear favorite in the General Election. It doesn’t hurt that his professional background is in agriculture.

“Our industry is made up of as many small businesses and start-up companies as it is big and well-established corporations. It is critical that the marketplace in Florida be as competitive as possible so that your smaller companies have exposure to as many opportunities as your bigger corporations,” said ABCFL lobbyist Carol Bowen. “Senate President Simpson continues to work with us to ensure that anti-competitive regulations don’t exist to benefit the few over the many.”

ABC Gulf Coast Chapter President and CEO Steve Cona III added, “While construction is one of the top economic drivers in Florida, we are also in desperate need of attracting our next generation of skilled workers to the industry.

“Ensuring there are opportunities to compete for work and access apprenticeship and workforce education is something Senate President Simpson supports. The Senate President knows that success doesn’t only come from a college education and that Apprenticeships are a great way to build a productive and successful future in Florida.”

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

One comment

  • andy Johnson

    December 17, 2021 at 10:14 am

    It is very sad that a group once so highly regarded is now acting so childish and fundamentally absurd. Childish for ANYONE, liberal or conservative, to get so goofy over Trump as to endorse his man in any race. And fundamentally absurd to make any endorsement at all so early as to preclude consideration of other better candidates who have not yet announced. What do we want? Do we want candidates for Commissioner of agriculture to campaign year-round for 3 or 4 years?
    Maybe if folks like my friends, the Builders, could calm down, and if we wait a few weeks, who knows?! We might even find a candidate who is not Trump’s puppet and who actually knows something about Agricultural issues!
    Sincerely, Andy Johnson, Former Member Florida House, D–Jacksonville

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