Florida agriculture commissioner

Caldwell Concedes Cabinet Race To Fried

Nov 19, 2018
Meredith Gettings / Florida House of Representatives

Republican Matt Caldwell pointed to a need for political “sanity” and a “peaceful transfer of power” Monday as he conceded the race for Florida agriculture commissioner to Fort Lauderdale lawyer Nikki Fried, the only Democrat to win statewide this year.

Caldwell, a real-estate appraiser from North Fort Myers who has served the past eight years in the Florida House, said in a statement that he still had questions about how ballots were handled in Palm Beach and Broward counties, where he had filed a lawsuit. But he didn’t want to use “legal loopholes to win an election.”

Jose A. Iglesias / Miami Herald

Former medical-marijuana lobbyist Nikki Fried is on the verge of being the only Florida Democrat to capture a statewide win, gaining votes over Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell in the race for agriculture commissioner after a manual recount was completed Sunday.

The manual recount also had no effect on the outcome of three razor-thin legislative races, in which Democrat Janet Cruz flipped a state Senate seat and House Republicans picked up one seat and held onto another.

Nikki Fried Campaign

The race for Florida Agricultural Commissioner is headed to a manual recount.

Last Tuesday, Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell claimed victory at an election watch party in North Fort Myers. But the vote differential between Caldwell and Democrat Nicole “Nikki” Fried ended up being so small that the race went to an automatic recount. Fried now leads Caldwell by .066%. 

On Thursday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered a hand recount for the race.

Associated Press

Matt Caldwell, the Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner, and his campaign filed a lawsuit Friday against Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes that calls for the rejection of all vote-by-mail ballots received at the elections office after 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed in Broward County circuit court, said Snipes hasn’t released numbers of ballots that came in after the deadline and asks the court to determine if Snipes illegally included ballots after polls closed Tuesday.

Jose A. Iglesias / Miami Herald

Nicole “Nikki” Fried may have a fighting chance at being the Democrat’s last hope for a statewide seat.

The Fort Lauderdale attorney and lobbyist is leading Republican challenger Rep. Matt Caldwell by a mere 575 votes as of Thursday afternoon, according to the Division of Elections. At the start of the day, she trailed Caldwell by about 4,000 votes.

The Florida Roundup / WLRN

This post was updated with new information at 12:00 p.m., Nov. 7, 2018.

In the race to be Florida's next Commissioner of Agriculture, at first it looked like Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell narrowly beat out Democratic candidate Nikki Fried.

Caldwell had claimed victory at his election watch party in North Fort Myers. 

But now, the race is too close to call and will be going into a manual recount.

After 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, just over than 12,000 votes separated the candidates. That means Fried and Caldwell are 0.16 percent apart.

The candidates to be Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture have a number of stark differences -- not least of which are their backgrounds.

State Rep. Matt Caldwell, the Republican candidate, is a seventh generation Floridian from a family of farmers. Democrat Nikki Fried, a public defender and medical-marijuana lobbyist, is from urban South Florida.

Florida's Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner says a second bank has terminated her campaign account because she supports medical marijuana.

Caldwell, Fried Ready To Battle For Agriculture Commissioner

Aug 29, 2018

State Rep. Matt Caldwell topped a four-way Republican primary for agriculture commissioner Tuesday, while lawyer and medical-marijuana lobbyist Nikki Fried had an easier time emerging from a field of three Democrats to become her party’s nominee for the Cabinet post.

The two will now go head-to-head in November to replace term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who lost a bid for governor Tuesday night.

Nikki Fried
C.M. GUERRERO / Miami Herald

Wells Fargo terminated the official campaign account of Florida Agricultural Commissioner candidate Nicole “Nikki” Fried after the banking giant discovered Fried has a “political platform ... advocating for expanded patient access to medical marijuana” and she had “funds received from lobbyists from the medical marijuana industry,” according to correspondence that was with Wells Fargo and was provided by the campaign.

Florida's Agriculture Commissioner isn't just the chief champion of oranges, avocadoes and other products sprouting from soil in the Sunshine State. The post also is responsible for gun licenses, consumer complaints and has a role to play in the restoration of felon rights -assuming Amendment 4 fails to get at least 60 percent support in November.

It is a statewide elected position with several candidates vying for their party's nomination in the primary election of Aug. 28. 

Associated Press

Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam’s family citrus business in Polk County was cited a decade ago by the U.S. government for workplace violations, including failing to pay fruit pickers the minimum wage.

U.S. Department of Labor records show that Putnam Groves of Bartow was ordered to pay back wages of $1,634.72 to four workers who were paid less than the minimum wage in 2008, which was $6.79 an hour at the time.

Florida is paying nearly $437,000 to cover the fees of attorneys who sued Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

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