As with every election cycle, Florida Farm Bureau, our members and our state’s strong agricultural community have the ability to make an impact in the Florida Legislature and in statewide cabinet races. Supporting and promoting good, quality leaders that will help strengthen and grow Florida agriculture is a priority of Florida Farm Bureau’s members and leaders. Each election year provides new opportunities to recognize lawmakers for voting in support of agricultural issues and to support candidates we believe will advocate on behalf of Florida’s farmers and ranchers.
In less than two months, voters will head to the polls for Florida’s Aug. 28 primary election. Florida Farm Bureau’s State Legislative Affairs team has completed its tour of the state with the Florida Agricultural Coalition, interviewing potential candidates for state office to determine whether they will be effective leaders for Florida’s agriculture. We’ve interviewed candidates in Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Palm Beach, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.
This year will be a crowded ballot and a busy election year. In addition to the state legislative races, the 2018 ballot will include races for all four cabinet positions (Governor, Attorney General, CFO and Agriculture Commissioner), one U.S. Senate seat, all 27 Congressional seats, one Supreme Court Justice and thirteen constitutional amendments.
The 2018 election is shaping up to be one of the most significant elections in Florida’s recent history, especially for agriculture. Florida Farm Bureau’s Political Action Committee has supported Adam Putnam, the most pro-agriculture gubernatorial candidate in more than a generation. There is also an open race for Commissioner of Agriculture, an important seat for Florida agriculture.
In the state Senate, 22 of the 40 seats are on the ballot. After qualifying closed at the end of June, only two incumbent Senators were elected without opposition: Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) and Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation). All 120 state House seats are on the ballot with 26 incumbents re-elected without opposition. Rep. Barrington Russell (D-Lauderhill) failed to qualify, so his opponent, Anika Omphroy is elected without opposition. There will be at least 35 freshmen lawmakers in 2019 due to term limits, resignations and a failure to qualify (nine Democrat and 26 Republican).
Many of these races will have heavily contested primaries, and due to demographics and voter performance, several state legislative races will be determined in a primary with no legitimate general election contest. That’s why it’s important for Florida Farm Bureau and its grassroots advocates to engage in campaigns early. Whether it’s choosing a candidate and supporting the campaign financially or with your time, or simply beginning the relationship-building process, it is always worth it to participate in the political process.
With less than two percent of Floridians now directly involved with agriculture, it is essential that experts, producers and growers engage politically and stay involved with campaigns and the political and legislative processes.
As the primary and general elections get closer, we look forward to keeping our members updated on the political landscape in Florida this year.
If you have any policy or political questions, please contact our State Legislative Affairs office in Tallahassee. We sincerely hope you will find opportunities to be the “Voice of Florida Agriculture” on the campaign trail this year.