Florida commissioner of agriculture: Matt Caldwell ends challenge to race results

Nikki Fried will be first woman elected as agriculture commissioner

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Republican candidate for Florida agriculture commissioner, Matt Caldwell, is ending his challenge to Florida's election results after two recounts, conceding to Democrat Nikki Fried.

According to the Florida election website, Fried was up by more than 6,700 votes on Monday after both manual and machine recounts.

Caldwell said that to continue his challenge would require a lot of money and time that likely wouldn't offer any clarity as to "what transpired in the hours and days after polls closed, despite the exhaustive efforts of my legal team to get to the truth."

Caldwell said he called Fried and told her of his decision, offering to help her transition into office.

“While I will not serve as Florida’s next commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, my campaign was not a loss," Caldwell said. "Every door knocked, every mile traveled, and every new hand shaken in every corner of the state, has emphasized the immediate and tangible needs of our state’s farmers, workers, small-business owners and consumers."

Fried will be the only Democratic Cabinet member in Florida and the first woman elected as agriculture commissioner in the U.S. 

On Sunday, Fried issued a statement declaring victory and congratulating Caldwell on the closest statewide race.

"This victory belongs to the people of Florida, you chose a new vision, one that reflects the priorities of the people. To everyone who didn’t vote for me, I will be your voice in Tallahassee too,” Fried said. “I am humbled and honored to serve as Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.”

The Florida Department of State has yet to declare the race. The official certification is scheduled for Tuesday. Follow live updates on the Florida recount here.

Fried has named former Congressman Patrick Murphy to oversee her transition team.

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