State Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, reeled in the support of some industry leaders as he continues his bid to be Florida’s next agriculture commissioner, one of four state Cabinet races taking place next month in the Sunshine State.

Caldwell announced on Thursday that the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association PAC (FFVA), Florida Citrus Mutual, the Florida Forestry Association and the Florida Farm Bureau FarmPAC were backing him over Nikki Fried, an attorney who has the Democratic nomination.

“Agriculture is a pillar of Florida’s economy and the next commissioner must be prepared to tackle and lead on complex issues on day one,” Caldwell said on Thursday before showcasing his credentials for the job. “I have a proven track record of working on the whole range of complex issues that define the commissioner’s job – from agriculture, water, and natural resources policy to fighting for all 21 million Floridians. I’m honored that these associations have verified my proven track record by giving me their support.”

FFVA PAC Director Butch Calhoun wrote Caldwell and said his group was endorsing him “based on your knowledge of our industry and the legislative process.”

On behalf of the Florida Forestry Association, President Edward Cole and Executive Vice President Alan Shelby insisted Caldwell “earned the Association’s official endorsement for Agriculture Commissioner.”

“We are proud to stand with you as part of team Caldwell,” they wrote the candidate in their endorsement.

Florida Citrus Mutual CEO and Executive Vice President Michael Sparks called Caldwell the  “best qualified candidate to lead this important agency.”

First elected to his current post in 2010, Caldwell currently represents parts of Lee County in the Florida House.

Current Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is facing term limits after eight years in Tallahassee.

 

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