With two months until the Republican primaries at the end of August, conservatives are starting to take sides across the Sunshine State.
In the Florida Agriculture commissioner primary, state Rep. Matt Caldwell got a big endorsement from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, making him the first statewide candidate to receive an endorsement from the NRA this election cycle.
Marion Hammer, NRA past president and the executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida, praised Caldwell’s record.
“Representative Matt Caldwell has been a steadfast supporter of Second Amendment issues as a member of the Florida House,” Hammer said. “His support of Second Amendment, self-defense, and anti-crime issues and his pro-sportsmen, pro-Second Amendment, pro-freedom record have earned him our endorsement.”
Cadwell faces state Sen. Denise Grimsley, former state Rep. Baxter Troutman and retired Army Col. Mike McCallister, who ran for governor in 2010 and the U.S. Senate in 2012, in the primary.
Over in the Panhandle, former state Rep. Mike Hill scored the endorsement of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi who called “a champion of conservative principles.”
After losing a state Senate bid last time out, Hill is running for a different seat than the one he held in Tallahassee, now gunning for the district currently represented by State Rep. Clay Ingram who faces term limits.
Rebekah Bydlak, who ran for Congress in 2016 and lost to Matt Gaetz, has the support of Ingram and other GOP officials. She also has a head start in the money chase.
Bondi has also endorsed a candidate in a Northeast Florida congressional race. With Congressman Ron DeSantis running for governor, there is now a competitive Republican primary in Congressional District 6, which runs from St. Johns County to Volusia.
Making his third bid for Congress, Costello’s campaign has been described as being on “life support.” But Bondi endorsed him which should give him a bit of a boost.
Waltz has had some success in pulling in endorsements, winning the support of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Congressman John Rutherford.
Bondi has also thrown her support to state Rep. Mike Miller who faces Scott Sturgill in the battle to take on freshman Democrat Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy. Miller also has the support of Sen. Marco Rubio. Sturgill countered with the support of longtime Donald Trump advisor Roger Stone and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.
Sturgill has been consistently winning the straw polls. In April, he won the WBOB straw poll and, earlier this week, beat Mike Miller in the Seminole County GOP straw poll with 60 percent of the vote.
Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.