State Representative and Candidate for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Matt Caldwell, was in Orlando on Thursday night to meet with supporters and share his vision for the future of the office. The campaign is expected to have traveled about 5000 miles around the state in June talking to voters.
“We’ve been getting a really fantastic response.” Caldwell told OPO during a sit down interview before his event. He’s running to succeed incumbent Commissioner Adam Putnam, who has reached term limits and is currently running for Governor.
Caldwell has represented the Ft. Myers area in the state house for the last several years, and his family has been in Florida for 200 years, with a background that includes farms, citrus crops, and cattle
The Commissioner of Agriculture’s also handles oversights of dozens of other industries in addition to the traditional farming aspects most Floridians commonly connect it to.
“It’s more than just Agriculture, that’s a huge part of it, but it also includes most of the blue collar jobs in the state.” he adds “Anything that requires you to wash your hands after you’re done working, changing oil, forestry, inspecting imports and exports, all of it, it’s a big department.”
Like many of his peers in Tallahassee, the Republican State Representative also has concerns regarding federal government overreach. This week the White House pushed forward an initiative that would reverse the Obama era policies known as “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS, which many farming organizations felt was a “land grab” that allowed the government to impede on property rights.
“I’m hyper conservative when it comes to federal-state relationships.” Caldwell says “When you read article one of the constitution and the things Congress is in charge of, who among us thinks they’re doing a good job with those things? Then they go poking their nose into areas that they have no right to get into. They’re so upside down right now, it’s one of the reasons I got involved.”
While it may be months before the average voters starts becoming familiar with Caldwell’s name heading into 2018, his Republican colleagues from the Orlando area were there to support him on Thursday, with almost a dozen state and local elected officials supporting his campaign.
Caldwell currently faces primary opposition from State Senator Denise Grimsley and Orange County Republican State Committeeman Paul Paulson.
“The reason I ran for office the first time is the reason I’m running now.” he concludes “I care about natural resources. Central Florida and the rest of the state is going to keep growing. When you look at balancing the needs of rural areas, urban areas, and the the environment, it’s the Commissioner’s job. That’s my passion and I’m excited.”