MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Chuck Nadd describes himself as a Ron DeSantis Republican.

A graduate of West Point and a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot who served two tours in Afghanistan, Nadd is challenging Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson for the Republican nomination to be the state’s next Agriculture Commissioner.

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In his first interview as a candidate, he sat down with CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede. Here is some of what he had to say:

Why are you running?

“I really grew up around water. I grew up kayaking Mosquito Lagoon. I grew up kayaking up in North Central Florida, and I saw that there’s this really emerging important issue of water quality and clean water. And I think everyone watching can really attest that this is one of the critical issues that our state faces, not only now, but over the next five 10 years. And unfortunately, when I looked out at the potential field of folks who were running for Agriculture Commissioner, I realized that my opponent, Wilton Simpson, has been on the wrong side of this issue. Specifically, he’s in the pocket of Big Sugar. He’s been paid for throughout his entire political career by these special interests that are more interested in their bottom line than in preserving the Everglades and in protecting clean water for South Florida and, frankly, all of Florida.”

On whether he would deny permits to allow sugar companies to burn their fields to gather the sugar cane:

“Yeah, I think it needs to be curtailed significantly. If you look the reason why they’re burning the sugar cane for folks who might not know is that ultimately it makes it easier to pick out the sugar out of the sugarcane. Right? It makes the whole process easier. So, in an effort to reduce labor costs, they’re burning the sugar. Unfortunately, because of the pesticides, because of a lot of what’s applied to the sugar cane, there are carcinogens that go up in the air. And like you said, this isn’t just an issue of clean water. This is about clean air, too. And when you’re talking about schools that are nearby, when you’re talking about homes that are nearby, there are folks who are breathing this into their lungs, and that’s not so. I think that we should stand for. So I want to be solidly against the significant burns. We need to control those burns. And also we need to make sure that water is rooted in the right direction. This is an issue not only about the environment, but about the health and safety of Floridians across from coast to coast.

On gun laws in Florida:

“I saw that throughout the course of this last legislative session and over the last two years, and really the six, seven, eight years before that. Wilton Simpson, my opponent, has not been a friend of conservative values in Florida. If you look at things like gun control, he enacted the bill after Marjory Stoneman Douglas that brought red flag laws to Florida and that raised the age of ownership. These are issues that are nonstarters with the Republicans that are going to be voting in the primary this year.”

“I think it’s very important that we base all of our decisions in constitutional basis. And when you look at the arguments that Ron DeSantis has made and Ron DeSantis has been very clear that he would have been against and he would have vetoed the legislation after Marjory Stoneman Douglas, it just went too far in curtailing the constitutional rights of Floridians. So I am strongly in favor of a pro-gun agenda, and I really do believe ultimately that we need to have a state that has constitutional carry like 25 other states. Because I think about people like my wife, I think about people that I see across the state who just want to protect themselves. It’s becoming a more dangerous world out there, and everybody watching knows that it crosses all different political divides. Folks realize that they need to protect themselves now. We can’t have a candidate who stood against Floridians protecting themselves.”

Was Joe Biden elected President of the United States fairly?

“I don’t have the information to be able to say one way or the other.”

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“I believe ultimately that we have a system of laws. And frankly, Donald Trump left the White House on his own volition on January 19th or January 20th of 2021. So I think that’s a question that you would have to ask Donald Trump why he left the office if he didn’t think that the election had been settled at that point.”

Is Joe Biden Commander in Chief?

“Joe Biden is the commander in chief of the United States Army.”

On election integrity in Florida:

“I think it’s really important that we analyze election integrity. And frankly, when you look at the issue of election integrity, there is some open questions about Wilton Simpson. He got involved in some really key races here in South Florida, in the Florida Senate. And for those who don’t know, he helped along with some of the folks that he was working with prop up candidates who were so-called ghost candidates. I think it’s really critical that if people are thinking about election integrity, they think about how Wilton Simpson has again been on the wrong side of that issue.”

On medical marijuana:

“I am strongly in favor of medical marijuana. I really believe and this is coming from a deep place for me because I’ve seen a lot of my friends in the military, folks who are still in, folks who are veterans, deal with severe PTSD, severe pain from wartime injuries. And I think it would be malpractice to not allow for medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor and really pushed in a way that’s safe and effective.”

On Donald Trump’s decision last year to endorse Wilton Simpson?

“Donald Trump wants to support winners and I’m a winner and I’m going to win this race. He endorsed Wilton Simpson almost a year before I got into the race, so I don’t think he’s got the full set of facts.”

Do you expect an endorsement from Ron DeSantis?

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“I think Ron DeSantis has a lot of options in what he can do. He’s got a very robust agenda that he’s trying to get past right now. But I know he’s very interested, and I think it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens.”

Jim DeFede