Fried de­clares she won agri­cul­ture com­mis­sion race

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - From The Front Page - BY SA­MAN­THA J. GROSS sgross@mi­ami­her­ald.com Her­ald/Times Tal­la­has­see Bureau

At the end of Elec­tion Day on Tues­day, it ap­peared that Demo­crat

Nikki Fried had lost to Repub­li­can Matt Cald­well for the Florida Cabi­net post of agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner.

Satur­day, af­ter late vote tal­lies in Broward and other coun­ties showed she was ac­tu­ally ahead by

5,326 votes, Fried claimed vic­tory and started work­ing on a tran­si­tion.

It may be pre­ma­ture. The state divi­sion of elec­tions or­dered au­to­matic ma­chine re­counts for three statewide races Satur­day af­ter­noon, in­clud­ing Fried’s. And the lat­est vote tal­lies don’t in­clude mil­i­tary and over­seas votes. The mil­i­tary vote his­tor­i­cally has trended Repub­li­can.

The agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner race is al­most cer­tain to go to a man­ual re­count, which has to be done for races in which can­di­dates’ votes end within .25 per­cent or less of each other. The mar­gin in the Fried-Cal­well race: .06 per­cent.Fried told re­porters that her an­nounce­ment was not pre­ma­ture, and that “the process has a way of work­ing it­self out.” Her tran­si­tion team, she said, will be led by for­mer U.S. Rep. Pa­trick Mur­phy, who rep­re­sented the large agri­cul­ture com­mu­nity of Martin County.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to work­ing with her and Com­mis­sioner Put­nam on a seam­less tran­si­tion and help­ing her put to­gether an of­fice which will ac­com­plish her pri­or­i­ties of pro­tect­ing our water­ways, be­ing a fighter for farm­ers in Tal­la­has­see and Wash­ing­ton, en­sur­ing com­plete back­ground checks, and ex­pand­ing ac­cess to med­i­cal mar­i­juana,” Mur­phy said.

Also on the team is U.S. Rep. Dar­ren Soto and Fred Gut­ten­berg, a gun-con­trol ac­tivist whose daugh­ter, Jaime, was mur­dered in the Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School shooting last Fe­bru­ary.

Fried, who has al­ready been in touch with cur­rent Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner Adam Put­nam re­gard­ing the tran­si­tion, said her first pri­or­i­ties align with her key cam­paign points: She will be look­ing at wa­ter quality is­sues, ex­pand­ing med­i­cal mar­i­juana and con­duct­ing a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the back­ground checks in the con­cealed-weapons per­mit­ting process.

“In me, you have a Com­mis­sioner of Agri­cul­ture who will put sci­ence be­fore pol­i­tics and put our water­ways first, who will en­sure full back­ground checks are com­pleted on gun per­mits, and who will be a fierce advocate for ex­pand­ing ac­cess to med­i­cal mar­i­juana for suf­fer­ing Florid­i­ans,” she said. “And while this po­si­tion is much more than agri­cul­ture, I know that the suc­cess of Florida’s farm­ers is di­rectly linked to the suc­cess of our state.”

While Fried was cel­e­brat­ing, her op­po­nent was hop­ing for a closer look at the vote count­ing process.

Cald­well be­came the lat­est statewide can­di­date Fri­day af­ter­noon to file a law­suit over the count­ing of votes in the 2018 midterm elec­tions.

His law­suit, filed in Broward County, asks the court to de­ter­mine if Broward Elec­tions Su­per­vi­sor Brenda Snipes “il­le­gally in­cluded bal­lots af­ter polls closed” on Nov. 6.

His cam­paign also filed a pub­lic-records re­quest for vote counts and emails among Snipes, her team and any third par­ties re­gard­ing bal­lot count­ing.

Mi­ami Her­ald staff writer David Smi­ley con­trib­uted to this re­port

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