Donald Trump Takes Sides in Florida Agriculture Commissioner Race, Backing Wilton Simpson

Next year’s gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races in Florida will get most of the attention but a state Cabinet race could offer insights on where the GOP is headed.

While Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Tribly, has yet to launch a bid to be the state’s next agriculture commissioner, he can count on the support of former President Donald Trump.

This week, Trump threw his support behind Simpson.

“Wilton Simpson has done an outstanding job as president of the Florida state Senate, and I hope he runs for Florida agriculture commissioner in 2022—he will have my complete and total endorsement! Wilton has been a great supporter and worked hard to get many good conservatives elected in Florida. He helped us grow our Republican majority in the Florida state Senate, and gave us a historic win in Florida in the 2020 presidential election,” Trump said. “Wilton will never let the great people of Florida down!”

Current Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only Democrat holding statewide office in Florida, is expected to run for governor in 2022 and Republicans are starting to plan running to replace her. Richard Olle and James Shaw are already running for the Republican nomination while former U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., is considering getting in. With Rooney being very critical of Trump before bowing out of Congress in 2018, the former president could be involved if Simpson decides to enter the primary.

In the meantime, Ryan Morales is running for the Democratic nomination while Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay is considering getting in the race. But the focus will be on Rooney, an attorney who served in the Army and taught at West Point, versus Simpson who has farming credentials and Trump’s backing. With no major primary challengers expected to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis or U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., next year, the agriculture commissioner contest is shaping up to be the main event for Florida Republicans in next year’s primary.


Kevin Derby wrote this analysis. He can be reached at


Kevin Derby
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