February 5, 2018 | originally posted on Florida Politics by Drew Wilson
Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell announced another block endorsement for his Agriculture Commissioner campaign from colleagues in the Florida House Monday, this time mostly from the Tampa Bay area.
“I am proud to receive the endorsements from my colleagues. I will continue to work hard to earn support from Floridians across the Sunshine State, who know the importance of having a principled conservative serving as Commissioner of Agriculture and on the Florida cabinet,” Caldwell said.
Backing Caldwell are Republican Reps. Larry Ahern, Jim Boyd, Danny Burgess, Julio Gonzalez, Joe Gruters, Shawn Harrison, Ralph Massullo, Amber Mariano, Ross Spano, Jackie Toledo and former Republican Rep. Jimmie Smith.
“I am proud to endorse my friend, Matt Caldwell. Matt has not only proven himself as a committed public servant but is also the only candidate who has consistently received an A rating from the NRA. Matt Caldwell is the right choice to guide our department of agriculture and consumer services,” said Boyd.
Gruters also chimed in, citing Caldwell’s “experience working on water and agricultural policy,” while Toledo pointed to Caldwell’s leadership, including on the House Texting While Driving bill, in her statement.
The campaign called the Tampa Bay block the “seventh wave” of endorsements, and it follows similar announcements from lawmakers representing the Panhandle, Southwest Florida, Northeast Florida and South Florida.
Caldwell is one of three Republicans vying to replace term-limited Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for Governor in 2018.
He faces Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Rep. Baxter Troutman of Winter Haven in the GOP primary race. Also running are Democrats David Walker, Jeffrey Porter and Thomas White, the latter two of which filed in the past week.
Through the end of 2017, Caldwell had a little under $1.1 million on hand between his campaign account and political committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell.
Through the same date, Grimsley had $872,000 cash on hand between her campaign and committee accounts, while Troutman had $2.5 million in the bank, the vast majority of which came from his own bank account.