Simpson enters race for Agriculture Commissioner

Speaker of the Florida Senate
Wilton simpson

(TALLAHASSEE / September 3, 2021) –Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson, a wealthy Republican from Trilby whose businesses include a giant egg farm, filed documents Friday to run for the state’s agriculture commissioner next year.

Simpson, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in May, is the top candidate to enter the cabinet seat race to be opened because Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat , is a candidate for governor.

Erin Isaac, Simpson’s campaign spokesperson, said in a statement that the Senate leader remains focused on the 2022 legislative session, which begins in January.

“There will be plenty of time to campaign after the important work ahead, because for too long too many politicians have told us to vote for them and settle for less,” Isaac said in an email.

Simpson, who has served in the Senate since 2012, will end his term as president with the November 2022 election. Although he opened his official campaign account on Friday for the Agriculture Commissioner race, he heads two political committees that had of approximately $ 3.5 million as of July 31.

Two other Republicans, Richard Earl Olle Jr. of Valrico and James Shaw of Vero Beach, and a Democrat, Ryan Morales of Clermont, opened campaign accounts for the race but raised little money.

Shaw invested $ 20,000 in the contest when he filed in March and did not report any other individual contributions. Olle did not say he received any money. Morales invested $ 2,030 of his own money in the campaign and raised $ 92 from four backers.

It has long been rumored that Simpson would be interested in running for agriculture commissioner, and Trump issued a statement in May from his Save America PAC giving Simpson his “full and utter endorsement!”

“Wilton was a big supporter and worked hard to get a lot of good Conservatives elected in Florida,” Trump said. “He helped us increase our Republican majority in the Florida State Senate and gave us a historic victory in Florida in the 2020 presidential election.”

Simpson is one of the wealthiest members of the Legislative Assembly. He had a net worth of $ 31.5 million as of December 31. Simpson’s holdings include Simpson Farms in Trilby and interests in an asbestos removal company, an environmental safety company and the limited liability company Belly Wadding, which is related to IHOP restaurants in Florida.

As Speaker of the Senate, Simpson has been a key player on a wide range of issues. One of its priorities in the 2021 session, for example, was to pass a bill expanding Florida’s so-called “right to the farm” law, which helps protect farmers from legal action.

But Simpson has drawn criticism from some Republicans, including Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Trump ally who attacked Simpson for implementing a program to use the federal E-Verify system to verify whether workers are legally in the country.

“Florida deserves an Agriculture Commissioner who does not support illegal immigration. Regardless of political party, ”Gaetz said online in January after Simpson’s name was raised as a potential Cabinet candidate.

By Jim Turner, Florida Information Service

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