Race Analysis: Florida Ag Commissioner Republican Primary

Dennis "Mitch" Maley
The Florida Agricultural Commissioner Republican Primary features two candidates who will compete for the party’s nomination. The winner will represent the party in November for the post that incumbent Democrat Nikki Fried is vacating in order to run for governor.

Wilton Simpson, 56, is a 10-year veteran of the Florida Senate and has been the chamber’s president for the past two years. Simpson is a wealthy businessman who owns egg farms and is worth over $22 million. He is endorsed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and every Republican politician of note in the state and has raised much more money than all candidates. 

James Shaw is his only challenger. A grassroots candidate who has spent many years in the transportation industry, both as a manager and an owner, Shaw currently owns three Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchises and a 30-acre composting farm. He has a net worth of over $4 million. Shaw is an interesting candidate whose platform espouses that farmers don't need useless restrictions; that consumers need a good product at a fair price, and that gun owners can never be forced to disarm or compromise.

However, with only a minute fraction of his opponent's financial and political support, he provides little more than an opportunity for Republican voters frustrated by the RPOF’s platform to register a protest vote. Come November, it is all but certain that Simpson’s name will be on the ballot representing the party.