While he has ruled out running for statewide office next year, freshman U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is showing no hesitation in backing other Republicans for higher office.
Gaetz announced on Thursday that he was supporting state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, to replace term limited state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. During his time in the Florida House, Gaetz served with Caldwell.
“I support Matt Caldwell because he is a consistent conservative,” Gaetz said on Thursday. “He has never voted to support things like: Obamacare expansion, the Charlie Crist tax increases, and big brother-style red light cameras. And, he's the only candidate in this race who has refused to take public tax dollars to finance his campaign.”
Since launching his campaign for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Caldwell has been successful traveling the Sunshine State to share his conservative message and build support for the campaign.
“I am proud to have the support of Congressmen Gaetz,” Caldwell said. “I worked with Matt in the Florida House and he is not only an exceptional leader but a true, principled conservative. With his support and the support of Floridians across the Sunshine State, I hope to serve the people of the great State of Florida as the next commissioner of Agriculture.”
Caldwell does not have an open shot at the Republican nomination as state Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid, businessman Paul Paulson and former state Rep. Baxter Troutman are also running. R. David Walker, the president of the South Florida Audubon Society (SFAS), is running for the Democratic nomination.
This is not the only endorsement Gaetz has made in recent days. Two weeks ago, he took his name out of contention in the race to replace Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who faces term limits in 2018, and threw his support to Ashley Moody, a former judge based in Hillsborough County. Despite jumping from the Florida House to Congress last year, Gaetz had been the subject of speculation in the attorney general’s race.
“We're thrilled to announce the endorsement of Congressman Matt Gaetz," Moody announced on Facebook before Gaetz. “Congressman Gaetz is recognized in Florida and nationally as a true conservative leader, an advocate for smaller, more efficient government, and a zealous defender of our Second Amendment. He is an outspoken supporter of our law enforcement community working for years to support their mission of keeping our state safe. I am greatly honored to have his endorsement and help on our campaign.”
Moody does not have an open shot at the Republican nomination as state Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville, is also in the race. On the Democratic side, attorney Ryan Torrens has entered the race. So far Torrens is the only Democrat running for attorney general though attorney Mitchell Berger, who has raised money for the party, has opened the door to getting in the race. Attorney Bill Wohlsifer, who was the Libertarian Party’s candidate in 2014 when he pulled 3 percent in the general election, could opt for a second bid for attorney general.
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