(NSF/Tallahassee, FL) — One of Florida’s most-powerful lawmakers and a North Miami Democrat touting a grassroots campaign are competing in the November 8th election to become state agriculture commissioner.
Outgoing Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson has more name recognition, political connections and funding as he goes up against Naomi Blemur, the first Haitian-American to be a major-party candidate for a Cabinet seat.
The seat opened up when current Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried decided to run this year for governor instead of seeking another term on the Cabinet. Fried lost the Democratic primary to Charlie Crist.
Simpson was first elected to the Senate in 2012 and has served the past two years as Senate president. But with the contest an undercard to races for governor and a U.S. Senate seat, Simpson says he isn’t taking the contest for granted.
“These races will ultimately be close, and when I say close, they can be three to five points away. But in Florida, that’s a landslide compared to four years ago.”
Blemur has received little Democratic Party support after emerging from a three-candidate primary. Among her goals are guaranteeing that children in public schools who get free breakfast or lunch receive nutritional meals, expanding access to capital for farmers and ensuring Black and brown people have what she calls a “fair shot” at entering the state’s hemp industry.
“People are strapped on every side. While other elections may have not necessarily engaged them, I know for a fact that this election is extremely important to them.”
Blemur also wants to emphasize the role Cabinet member’s play as the state Board of Executive Clemency.
In addition to serving as one of three statewide elected Cabinet members, the agriculture commissioner runs the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a sprawling agency that oversees issues involving farmers and ranchers, manages public lands, inspects amusement-park rides, ensures food-safety and school-lunch programs and oversees concealed-weapons licenses.
(From The News Service of Florida)