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Conservative Dem Dark Horse: Rick Minton Campaigns for Agriculture Post

Calling himself a very conservative Democrat and Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles his "political heroes,"former Rep. Rick Minton is revving up his bid to become the states next Agricultural and Consumer Services commissioner.

Speaking this morning, Minton listed the numerous responsibilities of the Agriculture post including land trust, water policy, determining who qualified for unemployment benefits.

Minton stressed both his personal and political qualifications for the office. One of the strengths I have is Im the only candidate in the Democratic field with experience in the Legislature, he said.

Minton served four terms in the House representing Ft. Piercefrom 1993 until 2001, includingservice as Vice Chair of the General Government Appropriations Committee, ranking Democrat on General Appropriations, the Resource & Land Management Council and the Environmental Protection Committee. Minton talked about his background in raising citrus and as a cattleman and how his personal experiences add to his political qualifications.

Stressing his conservative credentials, Minton talked up his role in pushing for welfare reform. Bill Clinton picked up my welfare bill and took it across the country, he said.

Sizing up his competitors for the Democratic nomination, Minton said, Scott Maddox is the front runner now but I have the qualifications.

Minton said that, unlike some of his rivals, he is not using the position as a springboard for future office. This is something I have prepared for all my life. Im not using this post to hop to the next position, he said.

All the money in the world does not mean votes, Minton said. While he has not had the fundraising success that either former Tallahassee Mayor Maddox or GOP frontrunner U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam have, Minton has increased his efforts, raking in $35,000 at a recent event in his hometown of Ft. Pierce.

While he is an underdog, Minton said his campaign will continue to gain momentum with his experience and the importance of the Agricultural position in these dire economic times.

We can get our economy back, he said. We can put our farmers back to work.

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