Editorial: For Ag Commissioner: Republican Grimsley, Democrat Fried


The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services involves a lot more than crops and cattle. The agriculture commissioner also oversees gun permits, consumer complaints, gas pumps — and sits on the powerful Florida Cabinet, whose duties include restoring felons’ rights.

RELATED: Listen to the Agriculture Commissioner candidates interviews.

Four candidates are in the Republican primary, three from longtime Florida farming families and one a retired U.S. Army colonel. All laud the Second Amendment, rap NAFTA and balance environmental concerns with the needs of agriculture.

The Post endorses state Sen. Denise Grimsley, 58, of Sebring, who brings the most varied background and who outlines the most detailed plans, spelled out in an e-book on her website. She has run her family business, a citrus and cattle enterprise with 10 convenience stores and gas stations – all affected, in one way or another, by the department she wants to head.

A former trauma nurse, Grimsley became a state representative for eight years, including two as top budget negotiator. She has an MBA from the University of Miami and is now a vice president of Florida Hospital in Wauchula. Meaning, she has executive experience and knowledge of both public and private finance.

She gives the performance of the current commissioner Adam Putnam an “A” for making the department “very consumer friendly.” As for Putnam’s conspicuous failure to conduct national background checks on concealed-carry permits for over a year, Grimsley vows to conduct a full audit of department procedures.

Her rivals are State Rep. Matt Caldwell, 36, of North Fort Myers, a real estate appraiser whose family has a background in Florida farming; former state Rep. Baxter Troutman, 51, of Winter Haven, a citrus farmer whose family also owns a cattle farm; and retired Col. Mike McCalister, of Plant City, who owns and operates a small tree farm. Troutman and McCalister did not meet with the Editorial Board.

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post FREE weekly Opinion newsletter: Text Opinion to 444999

The three candidates in the Democratic primary are based in South Florida. Roy David Walker, 33, is president of the South Florida Audubon Society and a former biological scientist and researcher. Jeffrey Porter, 58, is the mayor of his native Homestead, a city with a strong agricultural component.

Our endorsement goes to Nicole “Nikki” Fried , 40, a Fort Lauderdale advocate and former public defender who is running, she says, because she saw firsthand how state lawmakers “failed the people with medical marijuana.”

Fried brings energy, intelligence and a bevy of fresh ideas. For example, she backs legalizing recreational marijuana and cultivating industrial hemp to boost the agriculture sector and yield new billions in taxable revenue.

She vows to use the department’s legal department to crack down on fraud and do-not-call registry violations. “The consumer protection component has been completely neglected for around 20 years,” she told the Editorial Board.

A former University of Florida student body president who later headed a felony division juggling 1,500 cases, Fried says she has the management skills to realize her ambitions to address citrus greening, algae blooms, low-income-area food deserts, water conservation and climate change.

***

Read all of The Post’s endorsements online at www.MyPalmBeachPost.com/2018-endorsements.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Kansas governor’s race might be a test for Trumpism

Recent days have me wondering what Kansas’ fifth governor — James Madison Harvey — would say about the pickle the state find itself in now. Harvey, a Republican, is my relative by marriage. He married Charlotte Cutter, whose sister is my great grandmother. To the inevitable reader who will doubt that someone with the last name of...
Opinion: The White Strategy

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, when just about everyone assumed Mitt Romney lost because he didn’t win enough Hispanic votes, election analyst Sean Trende produced a dissenting take. A close look at the results across the Midwest and Appalachia revealed a large population of what Trende called “missing white voters” &mdash...
POINT OF VIEW: Youth need community support as they go back to school

As a parent, certain days stand out as significant: days in which our role seems to take on special meaning, and days in which our presence and support are especially important and appreciated by our children. The first day of school is always one of these days. Sign up for The Palm Beach Post FREE weekly Opinion newsletter: Text Opinion to 444999...
Opinion: Partying like it’s 1998

And now for something completely similar. For a while, those of us who devoted a lot of time to understanding the Asian financial crisis two decades ago were wondering whether Turkey was going to stage a re-enactment. Sure enough, that’s what seems to be happening. Here’s the script: start with a country that, for whatever reason, became...
Letters Post made informed choices possible

Post made informed choices possible Having recently moved to Florida, my wife and I found the primary ballot to be a daunting challenge. With so many candidates, how is one possibly able to make an educated choice? Sure, we were inundated with telephone calls and emails, but that’s just paid political advertising. So we were very grateful to...
More Stories