ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The stage is set for the November race for the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture. Because current Commissioner Nikki Fried ran for the Democratic nomination for governor, there is no incumbent in this position.
Fried, who lost the nomination to fellow Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, is currently the only Democrat elected to a statewide office.
After Tuesday's primary, the race is between Republican Wilton Simpson, a farmer and current Florida Senate president, and Democrat Naomi Blemur, a first-generation Haitian-American minister and South Florida community leader.
How do these two candidates stack up on the issues that matter to Floridians? Let's break it down.
Naomi Blemur, Democratic nominee
Blemur is currently an elected committeewoman for the Miami Dade Democratic Executive Committee in District 15, according to her campaign site.
She is the first Haitian-American woman to be a nominee for the Florida Cabinet, Florida Politics reported.
In her biography, Blemur says she is the granddaughter of farmers, "a community advocate, a local business owner, and a mother." Blemur says she will advocate for small farmers, clean water and renewable and sustainable energy.
Some of the issues she prioritizes, according to her campaign site, include:
- Advocating for small farmers
- Stronger gun safety
- Feeding our communities
- Clean energy
- Decriminalizing cannabis
- Building a hemp economy
She also says her priorities are "aligned" with the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
According to Florida Politics, Blemur lost support from some leading South Florida Democrats earlier in August after screenshots emerged of past comments on social media that were anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+.
Wilton Simpson, Republican nominee
Simpson considers himself a lifelong farmer. He currently represents District 15 and previously represented the 18th District from 2012 to 2016.
He has several high-profile endorsements, including from former President Donald Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis and 59 of Florida's 67 sheriffs.
Issues Simpson is prioritizing during his campaign include:
- Fighting vaccine mandates
- Supporting the Parents' Bill of Rights
- Election integrity
- Defending the Second Amendment
His campaign site also has a look at his voting record in the Florida Senate, which you can find here.
One of the highlights of his time as Florida Senate president is helping push through the Right to Farm Act in 2021, which in part protects farmers from frivolous lawsuits.