Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Ray Rodrigues, other SWFL leaders host fundraiser for Matt Caldwell

in 2017 by

Rep. Matt Caldwell is getting a little help from his friends in bid for Agriculture Commissioner.

Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, Rep. Dane Eagle, and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen are among the more than three dozen Southwest Florida officials scheduled to host a fundraiser for Caldwell on Monday night.

The fundraiser, according to a copy of the invitation, is scheduled to kick off around 5:30 p.m. at Suncoast Beverage in downtown Fort Myers.

Rodrigues, an Estero Republican, was selected to serve as Majority Leader under House Speaker Richard Corcoran for the 2016-18 term; while Eagle, a Cape Coral Republican, serves as Majority Whip. Fitzenhagen, a Fort Myers Republican, is the chairwoman of the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee. All three were elected to the Florida House in 2012.

The invitation also lists former state Rep. Gary Aubuchon; Lee County Commissioners Brian Hamman, Larry Kiker, Frank Mann, and Cecil Pendergrass; Lee County Clerk Linda Dogget; Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson; Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott; and well-known Lee County residents Sandy Stilwell and Bruce Strayhorn as hosts.

Caldwell faces Sen. Denise Grimsley and Paul Paulson in the race to replace Agriculture Adam Putnam as Agriculture Commissioner in 2018. Democrat Michael Damian Christine has also filed to run; and Republican Baxter Troutman is considering jumping into the race.

According to Caldwell’s campaign, the North Fort Myers Republican raised $101,1575 for his 2018 agriculture commissioner bid during a 20-day period in May. Caldwell is expected to report ending the month with $100,458 cash on hand, according to his campaign. His political committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell, will report raising $712,825 since January.

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