TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Republican Matt Caldwell conceded the Florida Agriculture Commissioner race Monday, ending any possible legal challenges and handing the race to Democrat Nikki Fried.

  • Matt Caldwell called Nikki Fried to concede the race
  • Fried becomes the first Democrat in the Florida Cabinet since 2011
  • Fried won by 6,754 votes
  • DECISION 2018: Latest News | Election Results

Fried will become the first Democrat in the Florida Cabinet since 2011.Democrat Alex Sink was state chief financial officer from 2007 to 2011.

Fried tweeted that Caldwell was gracious in his phone call with her.  

In a statement, Caldwell hinted that he perhaps still thought the results were tainted in some way because of "abject failures in Broward and Palm Beach" counties, but said he would not use "legal loopholes" to win the election:

“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.

“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.”

He also sent this tweet out Monday afternoon to reporters. 

Caldwell came out ahead initially in the race on Election night, with a slim enough margin to trigger the state's automatic machine recount rule.

But vote-by-mail ballots were still being counted in several counties in subsequent days, and in Palm Beach and Broward counties, early voting ballots were still being counted a day later.

In the end, Fried ended up winning by 6,754 votes, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

The agriculture commissioner race was one of three races with such slim margins that statewide recounts were triggered. 

Over the weekend, Democrats Andrew Gillum and Sen. Bill Nelson conceded to Republicans Ron DeSantis and Gov. Rick Scott, respectively, in the Florida governor and U.S. Senate races.