It’s a Polk Thing

Two out of Florida’s past three elected agriculture commissioners have come from Polk County.

With former state Rep. Baxter Troutman’s entry into the 2018 agriculture commissioner’s race on Monday, it could become three out of the past four, if he is successful next year. Troutman, who served four terms in the state House before he termed out in 2010, is a Winter Haven businessman and a Polk native.

He is seeking to replace Adam Putnam, another Polk native who is running for governor next year. He succeeded Charles Bronson, an Osceola County native, in the Cabinet seat.

But Bronson followed Bob Crawford, another Polk native who served 10 years as agriculture commissioner before moving to the Department of Citrus in 2001. Terrie Rhodes served briefly as an interim commissioner between Crawford’s departure and Bronson’s appointment by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

Even if Troutman doesn’t make it next year, there still may be a new commissioner with Polk roots. State Sen. Denise Grimsley is another agriculture commissioner candidate who was born in Lakeland. Although she lives in Sebring, her multi-county Senate district includes a large portion of southern Polk County.