Panhandle House delegation unanimously backs Matt Caldwell for Ag Commish


Rep. Matt Caldwell has the unanimous backing of his colleague from the Panhandle for Agriculture Commissioner.

Caldwell’s campaign announced that the entire Panhandle House delegation — Rep. Brad Drake, Clay Ingram, Mel Ponder, Frank White, Jay Trumbull, and Jayer Williamson — has endorsed him for Agriculture Commissioner. The endorsements were billed as the first wave of Panhandle endorsements, and come as Caldwell continues to travel the state to build support for his campaign.

“I am excited and truly humbled to receive endorsements from an exceptional group of leaders in the Florida Panhandle,” said Caldwell in a statement. “I hope to have the opportunity to serve the people of the great State of Florida as the next Commissioner of Agriculture and it is with God’s blessing, and the outpouring of support we have received, that our campaign will be successful.”

The North Fort Myers state representative is one of four Republicans vying to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2018. He’ll face Sen. Denise Grimsley, former Rep. Baxter Troutman, and Paul Paulson in the August 2018 primary.

Caldwell’s colleagues from the Panhandle praised his work in the Legislature, with Drake saying he has “no doubt that he would do an incredible job if he is given the opportunity to serve Florida families.”

“Matt’s discipline, work ethic, passion, and desire for knowledge have resulted in continued success for him and those he works with during his service in the Florida House,” said Ponder in a statement. “Matt is the candidate I am supporting to serve as our next Commissioner of Agriculture.”

First elected in 2010, Caldwell has spent much of his career in the Legislature focused on environmental and agricultural issues. As chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee in 2013, he backed a plan to help pay for Everglades restoration. As chairman of the State Affairs Committee, he carried legislation, which the governor also signed into law, in 2016 that addressed how state lands are used.

“We have an important decision to make in the race for Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and I am proud to support Matt Caldwell,” said White in a statement. “Water is a precious asset in Florida and our next Commissioner of Agriculture must work to balance the demands of growing cities with the needs of our farmers and our environment. Matt has proven leadership and has championed issues that affect our environment and the agricultural industry.”

Trumbull called Caldwell the “most qualified candidate in the race,” and said he was proud to support him. Those feelings were echoed by Ingram and Williamson, both of who said they were excited to support Caldwell.