Fifty-nine of the state’s sheriffs — all but eight of them — are endorsing Senate President Wilton Simpson’s campaign for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the campaign announced Monday.
The Florida Police Benevolent Association has also endorsed Simpson’s campaign, according to a news release from the Simpson campaign.
Simpson is running to succeed Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is leaving the position aiming to become Florida’s next Governor.
The campaign attributed the sheriffs’ united front for Simpson’s campaign to his support for law enforcement.
“As others have tried to defund the police, I fought to ensure Floridians in uniform have the support and resources they need to do their jobs,” Simpson said, according to a news release.
The news release highlighted endorsements of sheriffs from Pasco and Polk counties.
“The women and men in law enforcement start each shift with a mission: to work side by side with members of their community to keep it safe and to make it home to their families,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said. “Wilton Simpson has firmly stood with law enforcement in this mission and understands that protecting our communities and our future will allow Florida to continue to prosper.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd credited Simpson’s leadership with bringing Florida’s crime rate to a 50-year low.
“Wilton is a PROVEN LEADER who cares about your safety and wellbeing,” Judd’s written comments read. “He has always supported law enforcement and that is exactly why I support Wilton.”
Simpson, a Trilby Republican, is the heavy favorite to win his party’s nomination for the post and face Democratic candidate Ryan Morales, a Clermont cannabis activist. Simpson has millions on hand for his campaign, compared to Morales and Republican candidates Richard Ollie Jr. and James Shaw, who have done negligible fundraising.
The majority of sheriffs not endorsing Simpson come largely from counties that are larger and traditionally more Democratic counties. Sheriffs from Alachua, Broward, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach and St. Lucie were not on the list of endorsers.