On Monday, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, filed his paperwork to run for Florida agriculture commissioner in 2018 when current incumbent Adam Putnam faces term limits.
Caldwell, who currently chairs the House Government Accountability Committee, made his case for why he is running for the state Cabinet office.
“As a seventh generation Florida native and the descendant of Florida farmers and small business owners, this great state has given my family so much,” Caldwell said. “I am seeking this opportunity to give back and to serve the people of the great state of Florida. I have filed to run for commissioner of Agriculture in order to continue our work together, fighting for and building upon the important issues we've tackled in the Florida House.”
As he noted in his announcement, Caldwell has deep roots in Florida and his distant relative Samuel James Bradley Perry served as secretary of the Florida Senate in the 1850s. Caldwell broke onto the political scene in 2008 when he challenged Democrat state Sen. Dave Aronberg who defeated the Republican.
Bouncing back in 2010 to win an open House seat, Caldwell has moved up the legislative ranks since then. During his tenure in Tallahassee, Caldwell often has focused on water and environmental issues. Caldwell has also championed pension reform for state employees.
Caldwell does not have an open shot at the Republican nomination. State Sen. Denise Grimsely, who used to serve alongside Caldwell in the House, is already running for GOP nod for the agriculture post. So is businessman Paul Paulson who ran for Orlando mayor in 2015. Michael Christine and Daniel Sohn are running for the Democratic nomination.
While he filed his paperwork to run for the office on Monday, Caldwell, who currently represents parts of Lee County in the Florida House, said he would hold an event in his Southwest Florida home base to kickoff his campaign.