Democrats Hardly Fight For Powerful, Statewide Agriculture Commissioner Job






There are few places in Florida that has less agriculture than Broward County.

Yet Democrats are ready to nominate a Broward resident as Agriculture Commissioner.


Four years ago, the Florida Democratic Party nominated an unknown Broward resident as its state candidate for Ag Commissioner. He lost.

Apparently the Democrats never heard: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Despite all the blather about Florida being a toss-up state, Ds have had little success historically in any statewide race other than the presidential.

Ag Commissioner is a prime example.

The state Democratic Party is cash-poor and lacks a realistic candidate for one of the most powerful elected positions in Florida — Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which is the job’s formal title.

The importance of the Ag Commissioner might not be obvious to a Broward resident. A voter can live years without seeing one of Broward’s 2,800 head of cattle. Compared that with Okeechobee County where 185,000 head of cattle roam.

Broward agriculture is worth less than $50 million annually. Palm Beach County agriculture is a $1 billion industry.

So the campaign for Agriculture Commissioner concerns few Broward voters.

That’s too bad.

Ag Commissioner deals with a lot more than cantaloupes and cows. The consumer end of the job regulates charities, amusement rides, gas pumps, supermarket scales and even concealed weapon permits. The commissioner also is one of four members of the Cabinet, helping to govern big hunks of state government.

The elected state Cabinet is the Governor, Chief Financial Officer, Attorney General and Ag Commissioner. Together at bi-weekly Cabinet meetings, these four electeds handle everything from bond financing to the Department of Law Enforcement, petitions for clemency and a lot, lot more.

So Ag Commissioner spends a lot of state money and fills a lot of state jobs. The Democrats hand that money over to the GOP with hardly a fight.

One reason for the Democrat’s inaction:

Ag Commissioner races only matter to the state’s ranchers and farmers, who donate the bulk of the money.

Democrats mean nothing to the ag industry because they lack control of the state Legislature. It is GOP lawmakers who decide water rights, land use, road building and everything else that farmers and ranchers depend upon.

So Democrats’ inability to win legislative seats has also cost them this Cabinet post.

Rather than fight, Democrats have given up.

The leading Republican candidate for Ag Commissioner this year is Baxter Griffin Troutman, a former state representative and a fourth generation Central Florida rancher and citrus grove owner from Winter Haven. His campaign has $2.8 million to date.


Baxter Griffin Troutman


The leading Democrat?

R. David Walker of Fort Lauderdale, who runs the Broward Chapter of the Democratic Environmental Caucus and is president of the South Florida Audubon Society.

Walker has less than $30,000. For a statewide race.

He will no doubt be as successful as the 2014 Democratic candidate for Ag Commissioner, Thaddeus Hamilton from Sunrise.

Hamilton was beaten 59-41 percent by GOP Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Putnam spent $3.2 million for the low-key race. Hamilton spent $44,000.

Which proves a cat could run as a “D” and get 41 percent.

But the cat can’t win.

And the Democrats won’t truly be a statewide party until they start treating races like Ag Commissioner seriously.



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