The Florida Agriculture Commissioner race has been set for November. During the primary election Tuesday, Naomi Blemur of North Miami was atop a three-way Democratic battle for that office and will run against Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, in the November general election for the Cabinet post.
According to the News Service of Florida (NSF), Simpson had little trouble winning the GOP primary against James Shaw, a Vero Beach resident.
Blemur emerged from the Democratic primary for agriculture commissioner after losing endorsements over past social-media posts that critics deemed “homophobic” and “anti-choice.” She defeated J.R. Gaillot of Gainesville and Ryan Morales of Clermont in the primary.
Simpson said the next 77 days will be used to “draw a clear contrast between the common-sense conservatism that has made the free state of Florida a model for the nation, and our opponent’s allegiance to the failed socialist policies of Washington Democrats.”
Current Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who has been the only statewide elected Democrat, decided against running for re-election to campaign for governor. She lost the gubernatorial primary Tuesday to U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist.
All three Democrats running for Cabinet posts will have to quickly scratch for money, as it remains unclear how much support they will receive from state and national party organizations.
Aramis Ayala, a former state attorney punished by the governor when she refused to seek the death penalty in murder cases, emerged Tuesday from a three-way primary to become the Democratic challenger to Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody.
In addition to Ayala and Blemur, the Democratic Cabinet slate will include former state Rep. Adam Hattersley running for state chief financial officer. Moody and Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis did not have primary opponents.
Ayala in 2016 became the first elected Black state attorney in Florida, winning in the 9th Judicial Circuit in Orange and Osceola counties. But before her four-year term was up, she became a target for Republicans because she announced she would not seek the death penalty for convicted murderers. Then-Gov. Rick Scott, now a U.S. senator, removed those cases from her office.
NSF also reported that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist won his primary race Tuesday over Nikki Fried, the state agriculture commissioner, setting up a November general election to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Speaking to supporters at a downtown St. Petersburg hotel Tuesday evening, Crist said a victory in November would “send shockwaves across this country.”
Crist spent much of the victory speech contrasting himself with DeSantis, who has skyrocketed to national fame and is a potential contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.