U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)-– Republican Senator Wilton Simpson is the current state Senate President in Florida. He is running to become the Agricultural Commissioner, who administers the Concealed Weapons Permit system.
Marion Hammer excoriated Simpson and 16 other Republicans when he helped pass a major gun control bill in Florida, in a knee-jerk response to the mass murder at Marjorie-Stoneman high school. The mass murder highlighted major failures of the school administration and the Obama administration.
Simpson was one of 17 Republicans who were targeted by Hammer in a memo dated April 18, 2018, to the United Sportsmen of Florida, which is an NRA affiliate (USF-NRA).
Simpson, at the time, had an A+ rating by the NRA. It appears the bill, SB-7026, was supposed to fail; Republican Senator Doug Broxson, of Pensacola, switched his vote at the last minute. From the Marion Hammer memo:
SEN. DOUG BROXSON (R) Pensacola: North Florida Sen. Doug Broxson was the linchpin. When he pulled his support for the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding gun owners he became responsible for passage of the “gun control bill.” If Doug Broxson had kept his word, the bill would have been killed in the Senate and Senate leadership would have had to start over and bring back a true school safety bill without the gun control provisions. But at the last minute, Broxson caved to threats and promises from Senate leadership and switched his vote and sold you out.
Simpson has had a mixed record as a supporter of Second Amendment rights. He has not vigorously supported either open carry bills or Constitutional Carry bills in Florida. He has been helpful in stopping many bills designed to weaken and restrict Second Amendment rights in Florida. Open carry or Constitutional Carry requires vigorous support of Republican party leadership to pass in Florida. Here are the words of Senate President Wilton Simpson on Constitutional Carry in 2022:
“If a constitutional carry bill gets to the Senate floor, and it’s heard on the Senate floor, I would vote yes. I would support that on the floor,” Simpson said.
However, the Trilby Republican told reporters he would not get involved in constitutional carry legislation until it gets to the Senate floor. That differed from comments one gun rights organization said Simpson made during the meeting.
Those are not the words of a leader who is vigorously working to push the legislation through the Florida Senate.
Marion Hammer has near-legendary status as a Second Amendment supporter and former NRA president. She is widely considered as the mother of the modern movement to restore the right to bear arms in the United States, with the Shall Issue permit bill she shepherded through the Florida legislature in 1987.
Passing major Second Amendment reform legislation in Florida, without the support of Marian Hammer, is extremely difficult.
Marion Hammer has endorsed Senator Wilton Simpson for Agricultural Commission this year.
Hammer said Simpson’s record makes him the best candidate for gun rights supporters.
“The Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner has the duty to oversee and administer the statutory laws that govern the concealed weapon and firearm licensing process,” she said. “We believe it is vital to have a Commissioner who understands the importance of running this Cabinet office with integrity, honor, and who will not politicize our constitutional rights.”
Would Wilton Simpson do a good job as an Agricultural Commissioner? His record indicates he would. He likes the Florida Concealed Weapons License system.
If Simpson becomes the Agricultural Commissioner, he will *not be* the Senate President. It is likely his replacement will be a more rigorous Second Amendment supporter.
In a bureaucracy, this is called “Kicking a problem upstairs.”
This correspondent cannot read Marion Hammer’s mind. She is a savvy political operator who can count votes and works the long game. Simpson’s replacement will want Marion Hammer’s endorsement.
Simpson’s reason for running for Agricultural Commissioner may be monetary. It would triple his income as a politician, from about $41K to about $129K. It is a plum position. It would probably more than triple his political retirement income, from about 10k to 37K, based on calculations assuming he is re-elected once as Agricultural Commissioner.
Which is better? Removing Senator Simpson to an Agricultural Commissioner position, where he will owe something to Marion Hammer and the USF-NRA and their endorsement; or punishing him for his lack of support for open carry, Constitutional Carry, and the 2018 vote for more gun control, to motivate other Florida Republicans to support Constitutional Carry?
It is not an easy question to answer.
Is Simpson’s replacement as a Senator likely to be an upgrade for Second Amendment Supporters?
Is a new Florida Senate President likely to be an upgrade?
Will stopping Simpson from being Agricultural Commissioner instill sufficient motivating fear in other Republicans, so they will support Constitutional Carry?
Florida Republicans respect and fear Second Amendment supporters, particularly Mrs. Marion Hammer. If Marion Hammer had proposed a Constitutional Carry bill, it might have passed in 2022. Perhaps she will do so next year. She has supported open carry legislation in previous sessions.
Personalities become very important during legislative processes.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.