Editor's Note: This story was filed after Matt Caldwell called the race in his favor at 10:00 PM on election night when ballot counts showed him with a .50% lead over his opponent, Nikki Fried. As more votes were counted overnight, that lead narrowed and now the results appear headed for a recount since the margin is less than .50%. For the latest vote count click here. For more on the Florida Division of Elections re-count rules, click here.
Matt Caldwell and Spencer Roach were joined by about 200 supporters at Dina's restaurant in North Fort Myers for a joint election watch party on Tuesday night.
Caldwell was running to be Florida's next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Roach was vying to represent Florida House District 79, a post that Caldwell has held since 2010.
Before several counties had finished reporting election results, Caldwell took the stage.
“We’re looking like just over a half a point, so we’re outside the recount zone," Caldwell said. "I’m going to go ahead and call it. I’m gonna say that we’re the next commissioner of agriculture.”
Caldwell faced attorney and lobbyist Nikki Fried for the cabinet seat. The position oversees 19 departments, including concealed weapons licensing.
Caldwell told the crowd that he began campaigning for the job two years ago.
“Hopefully, 60 days from now, we’ll be sworn in as commissioner and be responsible for the things you’ve heard me talk about the last two years on the road," Calwell said. "What I’ve committed to you on the trail you’re going to see me commit to in that office.”
Caldwell said he was the first person from Lee County to nab a state cabinet position since 1947.