Tampa Bay’s Police Chiefs will back up Republican Wilton Simpson’s bid for Agriculture Commissioner.
Dade City Police Chief James Walters, president of the Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association, wrote in a letter to Simpson’s campaign that the group supported his candidacy. Simpson’s record as Senate President played a role in the decision.
“You have, in both your personal and professional life, consistently demonstrated support of our mission as law enforcement leaders,” Walters wrote. “We strive to enhance the reputation of all who work in the criminal justice profession and we are confident that you will work towards that end.”
The organization includes leaders within police agencies in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Simpson has represented Pasco County in the Senate for a decade, and has presided over the upper chamber of the Legislature the last two years.
He just secured the Republican nomination for Agriculture Commissioner over James Shaw and faces Democrat Naomi Blemur. While that’s the only statewide office held now by Democrats, Simpson holds a massive fundraising advantage this year for the open Cabinet seat. Democratic incumbent Nikki Fried ran unsuccessfully for Governor this year.
Tampa Bay notably has been politically divided, with parts increasingly leaning Democratic. But the police organization, like others before it, expressed an appreciation for Simpson’s record on police issues. Many officers stood alongside Simpson to support an anti-riot bill and other laws backed by law enforcement.
The Florida Police Chiefs Association endorsed Simpson shortly before the Republican Primary. He also boasts the support of 59 county Sheriffs, the Florida Association of State Troopers, the Florida Professional Firefighters, the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police, the Florida Forestry Association and the Florida Police Benevolent Association.
He also has the support of Attorney General Ashley Moody and former Attorney General Pam Bondi, as well as Gov. Ron DeSantis and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.