Matt Caldwell

State representative

He’s a former political organizer and a former real estate appraiser.

Matt Caldwell is a Florida native who is the state representative for Lee County on Florida’s southwest coast.

He’s been vocal about his support of the Second Amendment and his endorsement by the National Rifle Association. A major part of his platform has focused on his work to support Everglades restoration efforts and to acquire land for conservation purposes. But he’s also faced criticism over the hundreds of thousands of dollars in support he’s gotten from the politically powerful sugar industry, which has been a major hurdle to Everglades restoration. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he would accept financial support from, “everybody except strip clubs and pornographers.”

If Caldwell is successful he will be the third straight Republican to hold the commissioner position after Adam Putnam and Charles Bronson.

Here’s where he stands on a few key issues:

Marijuana regulation

He supported the use of the specific strain of medical marijuana, Charlotte’s Web, but thinks that the use of recreational marijuana should be up to voters. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he thinks regulation of marijuana should move from the state’s health department to the department of agriculture.

The Everglades and the environment

Matt is supportive of keeping the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan funded, and using those funds properly for conservation and restoration efforts. He h supported legislation as a state representative that designated millions of dollars for restoring and cleaning up the areas south of Lake Okeechobee.

As far as the issues of toxic red tide and blue-green algae along Florida’s coasts, he pointed the blame at a combination of factors. He believes that runoff into the Gulf of Mexico from Houston, due to Hurricane Harvey, was a major contributor to the spread of red tide.

And he downplayed the role of the sugar industry in potentially contributing to blue-green algae blooms, telling the Tampa Bay Times that the issue is a shared statewide problem. In discussing Big Sugar he said, “I don’t view them as any more or less sinful than the rest of us that live here. We all have some kind of impact on changing the environment.” Many environmentalists would disagree. 

Guns and concealed weapons permits

Caldwell received an A+ rating from the NRA and has accepted their endorsement. But given the department’s recent issues with background checks for concealed weapons, under Adam Putnam’s leadership, he said that he will take a more hands-on approach to the process to avoid any similar issues.