Another Republican is jumping into the race to become Florida’s next Agriculture Commissioner.
On Monday, Republican citrus grower Baxter Troutman officially filed as a Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner in the 2018 election.
Troutman is the heir to the Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. citrus growing empire and will compete against three other GOP candidates to replace Adam Putnam, who is running for Florida governor.
The Winter Hill resident has previous ties to Florida politics, having served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2002 to 2010.
Troutman plans to hit the ground running with a large self-funded donation to kick off his campaign. On Monday, he opened his campaign account with a personal contribution of $2.5 million.
Troutman touted his personal experience as a businessman in Florida’s citrus industry as part of the reason voters should choose him among the growing field of contenders in the Republican primary.
“For two decades, I’ve been building a business and continuing my work in Florida agriculture,” he said in a statement. “Real experience and success in the private sector is what we need more than ever. Working side by side with folks who send their hard earned money to Tallahassee, I know why it is so important to keep taxes low, balance our budgets and grow Florida’s economy.”
That experience, Troutman said, is what sets him apart from the other candidates. It’s a common theme in Florida —- Putnam, too, also comes from a family of citrus growers.
“Every corner of this great state feels the practical and economic impact of agriculture, and we simply cannot afford someone in this important leadership position who doesn’t understand how to make it work for taxpayers,” he said.
Also vying for the Republican candidacy are state Sen. Denise Grimsley, state Rep. Matt Caldwell and Orlando real estate executive Paul Paulson.
Other candidates are making headway in their bids for Ag Commissioner as well.
Grimsley, too, comes from a family of citrus growers, though Troutman has more personal experience in the industry. She is attempting to qualify via petition. She recently announced she had raised $71,000 post-session during the month of May, bringing her total haul to $875,000.
Caldwell recently announced he had raised more than $100,000 during the month of May, bringing his total fundraising haul to over $712,000 since January.
Only one Democrat, Michael Christine, is currently running for the job.
The Republican primary election will be held Aug. 28, 2018.