Matt Caldwell, who narrowly lost the 2018 state agriculture commissioner race, has announced he isn’t going to leave his elected job as Lee County property appraiser for a second statewide run.
The former Republican state legislator issued a statement saying he plans to “stay rooted” in his hometown with his current job and taking a swipe at Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat who defeated Caldwell and is running for governor in 2022.
“Specific to commissioner of agriculture, the bedrock of the industry in Florida, deserves to be treated better than an irrelevant stepstool to higher office,” Caldwell wrote. “Thankfully, unlike 2018, there are other serious, viable candidates considering pursuing the office this cycle.”
Caldwell’s declaration comes two months after former President Donald Trump endorsed Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, for the statewide position as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Simpson, an egg farmer who also made his fortune in the environmental mitigation industry, hasn’t announced whether he intends to run for the Cabinet post.
Former U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, a Republican from Tequesta, has also expressed interest in the statewide office.