The Florida Forestry Association is the latest organization to endorse Senate President Wilton Simpson’s bid for Agriculture Commissioner.
Simpson, a Trilby Republican, is the front-runner to succeed Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is leaving the position as she aims to become Florida’s next Governor. The Florida Forestry Association, a statewide trade association that promotes responsible and sustainable use of Florida’s forest resources, issued the endorsement Tuesday.
“Wilton Simpson has a proven track record of strong leadership grounded in common sense,” said Alan Shelby, the association’s executive vice president. “By combining sound policies with political acumen, he clearly presents Florida’s best choice for growing our economy while protecting our environment.”
The announcement comes on the heels of an endorsement from dozens of Florida’s sheriffs given the day before. While the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees firearm licensing and other law enforcement operations, the Florida Forestry Association has more traditional roots in the operations overseen by the department.
“The forestry industry employs more than 124,000 Floridians and infuses $25 billion into our economy,” Simpson said. “The Florida Forestry Association’s members are on the front line promoting the responsible and sustainable use of Florida’s precious forest resources, and I am honored to have their support.”
Simpson, fondly known around the Capitol as an egg farmer, is the heavy favorite to win his party’s nomination for the post and face Democratic candidate Ryan Morales, a Clermont cannabis activist. Simpson has millions on hand for his campaign, compared to Morales and Republican candidates Richard Ollie Jr. and James Shaw, who have done negligible fundraising.
The Senate President’s first public support came months before he officially announced his campaign, when former President Donald Trump endorsed him for the job. The National Rifle Association, Florida Farm Bureau FarmPAC, Florida Police Benevolent Association, Associated Builders and Contractors and Associated Industries of Florida have also thrown support behind Simpson.
Simpson began his political career in 2012, when he was first elected to the Senate. In addition to his current leadership role as Senate President, he previously served as Senate Majority Leader.