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A message to Florida voters

November 29, 2018
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

Dear Floridians,

As I have stated from the onset, I am uninterested in using legal loopholes to win an election. All I have ever expected since Election Day is a full and fair accounting of all legal votes cast, and then respecting the will of the voters. Unfortunately, as a result of the abject failures in Broward and Palm Beach, it has become clear that we may never gain an understanding of what transpired in the hours and days after polls closed, despite the exhaustive efforts of my legal team to get to the truth. To continue this legal challenge would likely require millions of dollars and months to complete without providing any more clarity.

But even more so, the most impressive feature of our republic is the peaceful transfer of power. While history has vindicated that fraud was a serious part of the 1960 Presidential election, the Nation required closure and it would not be well served by prolonged and fractious litigation. The candidates set an example for our conduct and I believe the same is true about our State. Therefore, I will no longer be pursuing a challenge to the outcome of this race. Accordingly, I have called Nikki Fried and notified her of my decision to not pursue the matter any further and I have offered to assist her in any way I can as she takes the office of Commissioner.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention how unhealthy some of our current politics have become and how much that weighs on this decision. That hit home this last week when the FBI informed me that I was among the group of individuals that the recently captured pipe bomber had researched prior to his arrest. Even our own Governor-elect was a near target of the baseball field shootings. There is no place for political violence in a democratically elected republic. Our remedy is the ballot box and it should remain there. Embracing this fact can only make us stronger. The sooner we return to peaceful sanity, the better.

As I reflect on my last decade in the public eye, I am proud of the work we have accomplished for the people of Florida. I am proud of the work I helped lead on restoring the Everglades, on securing our long-term water future, on investing in conservation, on groundbreaking work in areas like medical cannabis. I am proud of the race we have run and the vision we laid out for the future. I hope to see Florida continue to prosper and pursue the proper balance between all of the things that make this State great.

Finally, I want to take this moment to recognize the extraordinary effort of many people, including my extended team. They have dedicated nearly two years of their lives to this endeavor and either physically or mentally journeyed with me for the 100,000 plus miles we traveled across the state.

But most importantly I must thank my family. While I was on the road 6 days a week, my wife was a single mother, keeping our house in order and serving as both mom and dad to our daughter. I cannot express in words how deeply grateful I am for their sacrifice. Our story is not unique. My grandfathers grew up in rural America, just getting by on whatever the Earth provided. One grandmother grew up in coal mine country, the other in a cotton mill village. Their children were the product of the bountiful post-War boom and met at one of Florida's great public universities. It was another one of those universities where I met my wife. She is the daughter of migrant farm workers; the first in her family to graduate from college. I see in our daughter the future of Florida. She is the product of all those combined experiences; that uniquely American heritage where neither success nor failure are inevitable and the opportunities are boundless.

While I will not serve as Florida's next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, my campaign was not a loss. 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.

Thank you all for the privilege. God Bless you and may God continue to bless the Great State of Florida.


Matt Caldwell,

Republican candidate,

Commissioner of Agriculture



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