Gov. Ron DeSantis is backing Senate President Wilton Simpson’s bid to be the next Agriculture Commissioner.
The top Republican on the state ticket announced his endorsement at the same time he relayed his support of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ re-election. He has already endorsed Attorney General Ashley Moody for a second term.
“In addition to Ashley Moody, for Cabinet positions I am supporting Jimmy Patronis for re-election as CFO due to his strong stance on fiscal and economic issues,” DeSantis said in a statement. “And for Commissioner of Agriculture, I am supporting Wilton Simpson, who has helped pass major reform for election integrity, choice in education, Big Tech censorship and law enforcement recruitment.”
Simpson happily touted the support.
“Our great Governor has led our state through these unprecedented times with a focus on our hardworking families and businesses,” Simpson said. “Together, we helped keep Florida free and prosperous, and I am honored to have his support.”
The support for Simpson ends months of questions stemming from the Governor’s reluctance to offer an endorsement to the Senate leader. During this year’s regular Legislative Session, the greatest points of tension between DeSantis and the Legislature often caught Simpson in the middle. The biggest criticism came over a water bill that sought more resources north of Lake Okeechobee. DeSantis at one point accused the Senate of leaving his administration “in the dark” on legislation and suggested it could derail progress on a reservoir south of the lake and efforts to limit water discharges.
Additionally, DeSantis came out strong against maps produced by the Legislature. Simpson had pushed to take a legally conservative approach, with maps designed to avoid protracted litigation. DeSantis, however, wanted a map that would challenge provisions of Florida’s Constitution involving racially motivated cartography the Governor believes defies the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.
The disagreements for months fueled speculation DeSantis may actually endorse Winter Park Republican Chuck Nadd, who filed in the GOP primary for Agriculture Commissioner earlier this month. Nadd had heavily pushed for the Legislature to take up the maps and has criticized Simpson for special interest ties.
But DeSantis made it known he’d like Simpson on the ticket come November, when the Governor’s race and all other Cabinet posts will be on the ballot.
There was less surprise regarding the Patronis endorsement. Patronis was originally appointed to his post by former Gov. Rick Scott. He campaigned and won his first full term in 2018, traveling the state with DeSantis and Moody during that cycle.
Democrat Nikki Fried won that year’s Agriculture Commissioner race, making that the only statewide office not held by a Republican. Fried this year is running for Governor against DeSantis, making the Agriculture Commission contest an open one.