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Scott Powers

Gwen Graham surges to front in Dems’ gubernatorial money race

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has quickly surged to the front of the pack in campaign fundraising in her drive for the Florida governor’s office in 2018.

Graham, who officially entered the race on May 2, raised more than $429,000 in April for her independent political committee, Our Florida, her official campaign announced. That’s almost as much as her two primary opponents, Chris King and Andrew Gillum raised combined in April.

Graham, of Tallahassee, also has transferred $1.2 million from her former congressional campaign. With expenses, that brings the committee’s bankroll to $1.629 million, her official campaign reported Wednesday.

“I’m not just running for governor to win back our state — I’m running to renew the Florida we all love. Thank you to everyone who believes in this movement and has contributed to help us succeed.” Graham stated in a news release. “We will have the resources to communicate our message in every corner of this state and take on any Republican candidate.”

Her two primary opponents thus far also reported strong April fundraising efforts, but not as strong as Graham’s.

Winter Park affordable housing developer King reported raising $300,000 in April and finished the month with about $1.5 million in hand. His contributions thus far including money he has given his own campaign, $1 million to start, and, according to Politico, another $100,000 or so in April.

Tallahassee Mayor Gillum reported raising just over $200,000 in April, bringing his total fundraising to about $1.1 million. He reported having $743,000 of that in the bank at the end of April.

Graham’s April haul included several big checks. Airport construction magnate James Finch of Lynn Haven, health care software entrepreneur Michael Singer of Alachua, and attorney Wayne Hogan of Jacksonville each contributed $50,000. Fifteen other individuals, companies or committees, including EMILY’s List, contributed at least $10,000.

Still, the challenge ahead for any of Democrats is that of Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who filed for the governor’s race last week and officially kicked off his campaign Wednesday in his hometown of Bartow. His Florida Grown Political Committee ended March with $7.7 million in the bank.

None of the candidates’ April official campaign committee numbers, nor Putnam’s Florida Grown numbers, had been posted yet Wednesday by the Florida Division of Elections.

As HD 44 special election candidates’ watch begins, Bobby Olszewski nabs Steve Crisafulli’s backing

Republican Bobby Olszewski has grabbed another endorsement – former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli – in his campaign to win election in Florida House District 44, now heading for a special election this summer with the resignation of incumbent state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle of Windermere.

His endorsements, which include numerous local officials from west Orange County, and his fundraising, which brought in $21,000 last month, may be hedging not against current opponents so much as against other Republicans contemplating jumping into the now short race.

No special election dates have been set yet, but an announcement from the Florida Division of Elections, through Gov. Rick Scott, is expected to set a primary in mid-summer and a general election soon after, creating the opportunity for a quick campaign.

Among those considering jumping in are former Republican Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd and Republican personal injury lawyer Will McBride, who finished second in a four-way Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in 2006.

Also being discussed in Orange County as considering runs for HD 44 is Rich Maladecki, president of the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, though he also is said to have decided to not run. . Maladecki was not available Wednesday to comment.

A special election is sure to drive down turnout, unless Democrats can deliver on their promise to mobilize their forces this summer in HD 44, covering much of western Orange County. And in a district that favors Republicans by about 8 percent, it’s likely to be a district the Republicans can count on.

One Democrat, Orlando businessman Paul Chandler, has entered the race. Another Republican has entered, Dr. Usha Jain, though she said she is largely running for the opportunity to express her desire for reform in politics. Chandler reported raising $695 in April, and spent $549 of it on campaign promotion. Jain has not raised any money.

Boyd, who left the county commission last year after being term limited with eight years in, said he is following matters closely and “strongly considering it,” but has made no decisions. Boyd’s former District 1 seat on the Orange County Commission includes most of HD 44. He has campaigned and won there twice.

McBride also ran but aborted a campaign for House District 27 primary last year, when the dominos affect of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s decision to seek re-election pushed state Rep. David Santiago to jump in late, to seek re-election.

McBride, who maintains homes in both Orange Park, allowing for the HD 27 run last year, and in Windermere, in HD 44, said he has retained his campaign team from his 2016 run, and is discussing the special election prospect with them, and with potential donors.

“I’m strongly considering it at this point,” he said.

Money might not be an issue for McBride, who founded a law firm with offices in Orlando, Kissimmee, Tampa, and five other states. In the 2016 race, he lent his own campaign $250,000, though the campaign paid $172,000 of that back to him after he withdrew from the contest.

Endorsements are where Olszewski, a former Winter Garden commissioner who ran for Orange County Commission last year, might have to build a firewall.

Crisafulli joined several dozen Olszewski endorsements, including those of Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson, Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn, and Winter Garden Mayor John Rees.

Today, State House candidate Robert “Bobby” Olszewski announced the endorsement of Central Florida leader and former Speaker of the House, Steve Crisafulli.

“As a former Speaker, I know firsthand just how important it is that local communities have strong and conservative representation in the Florida House and that is why I’m proud to support my friend Bobby Olszewski for State House District 44,” Crisafulli said in a news release issued by Olszewski’s campaign. “Bobby O has proven to be a tireless and dedicated servant for Winter Garden and West Orange County. He will serve the community he loves with dedication and distinction and I’m happy to endorse his candidacy.”


Tyler Sirois raises $25K in HD 51 race

Republican candidate Tyler Sirois raised $25,000 in his first month of campaigning for the seat opening up for House District 51.

Sirois, executive director of the 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, starts the race with a strong campaign finance lead over two other Republicans seeking to replace term-limited Republican state Rep. Tom Goodson.

Through the end of April, Sirois, of Merritt Island, brought in $25,050 and spent $847.

Two other candidates entered the race late in April. Thomas Patrick O’Neill of Rockledge reported lending his campaign $4,000, but not yet raising any outside money. Tim S. Tumulty of Cocoa Beach gave his own campaign $500 to start.

Sirois’ haul includes 13 checks of $1,000 from various Brevard businesses and individuals.

A Florida State University graduate, Sirois also has worked with the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections office and the Regional Aerospace Workforce Initiative, as well as with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Brevard.

The latter two have shaped much of his platform, as he is pressing for education opportunities to help guide Brevard workers to the existing and emerging tech industries in the region, and his commitment to work to improve mental health services for children.

David Richardson preparing for run in CD 27

Democratic state Rep. David Richardson is preparing for a run for Congress in Florida’s Congressional District 27 now that Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana RosLehtinen is retiring.

Richardson, of Miami Beach, who won his last re-election with 65 percent in his House District 113 entirely inside CD 27, said he is traveling to Washington D.C. in the next week or so to discuss a candidacy with potential donors and supporters, including leaders of The Victory Fund and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

He has not committed to running for Congress in CD 27, but he is making all the preparations.

“I’m taking a strong look at it,” Richardson told Wednesday.

“What I need to do is talk with my donors, about fundraising. I’ve proven to be a really good fundraiser, but fundraising for a congressional race is different than funding for a state house race, or a state senate race,” he said. “It’s also one of the reasons I’m traveling to D.C. to further the conversation with The Victory Fund. If they get behind me, then it becomes a national race.”

Richardson, 60, became the first openly-gay lawmaker elected in Florida when he ran and won in 2012. And if he were to run and win in CD 27, he would be the first openly gay member of  Congress from Florida. The Victory Fund is a national committee supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gender candidates, and has supported him in his Florida House runs.

The district already had drawn several Democratic candidates before Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement last week, and several others are being talked about as potential candidates, including state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez of Miami. Several Republicans also are exploring the opportunity, including state Sen. René García and state Rep. Jeanette Nunez.

Richardson is a certified public accountant with a career in forensic accounting, which began when he was reviewing government contracts for the Department of Defense, and then with a company specializing in it.

The district has been turning steadily blue over the past few years although Ros-Lehtinen was in no jeopardy of losing, comfortably being elected and re-elected in South Florida since 1989. Richardson said he has considered running for the seat for a while, but would not challenge her out of respect for her. He praised her constituent services program, and said she had helped him.

He said he’s spent four years “constantly engaging with my constituents” and believes they’ll be ready to vote for him for Congress in a district that hasn’t elected a Democrat in a long time.

“It’s blue,” he said of the district. “Maybe there’s a hint of purple in one corner. My state rep seat I represent, 113, sits entirely within the congressional seat. So that gives me a big base to start from.”

He has made his name in Tallahassee in a variety of ways, including using his forensic accounting skills for budget analysis, particularly in health care appropriations, as ranking member of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

But his real claim to accomplishment may involve his campaign over the last several years, working with Republicans, to address abuses in Florida’s corrections systems, especially for youthful offenders. His efforts helped lead to the shutdown of the youth facility the Lancaster Correctional Institution, and to pushing for reforms at the Sumpter Correctional Institution. He’s also been exploring abuses at Florida’s private prisons.

Born in Houston, he grew up in Orlando and received two degrees from the University of Central Florida, and a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Tampa.

He said his being an openly-gay man has never been an issue when has run before.

“When I went there, I said I’m going to be a legislator who happens to be gay, I’m not going to be just a gay legislator,” he said. “And I have worked very well across the aisle. And that’s something that is going to be required of anybody elected in Congressional District 27.”

Florida’s Democrats, Carlos Curbelo call for investigation after James Comey firing

Florida’s Democratic members of Congress are expressing outrage over Tuesday evening’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and saying it solidifies their demands for an independent investigation into ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.

In statements released last night, Democrats were using words like “disgusting,” “disturbing” and “preposterous,” even as many acknowledged that they were unhappy with Comey dating to his announced findings about Hillary Clinton‘s email scandal on the even of the 2016 election.

At least two Florida Republicans weighed in, as U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Kendall expressed concern about the questions the Trump’s firing of Comey raises and called for a special investigation by Congress, while U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach called it “the right decision.”

Typical of many of the Democrats was U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, who called Tuesday,  “a dark day for justice in America,” and then went on to criticize Comey for his past actions.

“The conduct of FBI Director James Comey before the 2016 Election was certainly disturbing, and undoubtedly deserved criticism and scrutiny,” Wasserman Schultz declared. “But the reasoning and timing behind this firing is absolutely preposterous and unbelievable. It smacks of a Nixon-esque cover up of President Trump’s Kremlin ties. And with this egregious political power play, there is now no question that a special prosecutor is needed, because Americans absolutely deserve an open, independent investigation into Trump’s Russian connections.”

Some were more measured. U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park said the firing, “gives rise to many questions, which I have no doubt will be examined in the coming days.

“However,” Murphy continued. “the President’s action makes one thing crystal clear: there needs to be a swift, independent and non-partisan investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Congress and the American people deserve to know all the facts, especially if we are to prevent further foreign interferences in our democracy. We should follow the evidence wherever it leads—regardless of whom it may implicate. The American people deserve an inquiry that is above partisan politics and is solely devoted to uncovering the truth.”

On the Republican side, Curbelo called the firing “an extraordinary decision that “raises many questions all of which must be answered.

“Congress and the American people need a transparent explanation as to how this decision was reached and why it was executed at this time,” Curbelo continued. “It is critical that the FBI can continue all of its pending work with independence and integrity – especially the investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to influence our last election and undermine American democracy. Today I reiterate the need for Congress to establish a Select Committee with full investigatory powers to thoroughly examine this matter.”

DeSantis stressed that the firing should rightfully remove the concerns about politics in the FBI.

“President Trump made the right decision to relieve FBI Director James Comey of his duties,” DeSantis stated. “I look forward to the President nominating a strong director who will keep the FBI focused on its core mission and out of the political thicket.”

Among other Democrats weighing in:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson:

“Now it is more clear than ever that we need an independent commission to get to the truth of Russia’s interference with our election.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa:

“President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is a blatant attempt to stall the FBI’s ongoing investigation of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. It is also part of a disturbing trend — first, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is fired by Trump after informing the White House of deep concerns about Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and his activities with Russia. Now, Comey is fired by Trump a week after testifying that the FBI is conducting its investigation.

“Trump may well be trying to distract the American people from the very troubling conflicts of interest, and those connections between Trump’s former national security adviser and Russia that were known about for some 18 days before Trump reluctantly fired Flynn. It is past time for an independent, bipartisan investigation. Trump may want to bury the investigation, but his presidency will continue under a cloud unless a special prosecutor or independent commission is established and the facts are fully presented to the American people.”

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg:

“I don’t disagree with the decision to remove Director Comey from his post given his actions over the past year. But the timing is extremely suspect given the FBI recently announced they are investigating the Trump administration for alleged ties to Russia.

“Now President Trump gets to nominate the head of the agency leading that investigation. We need a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation, and the Senate must drill down to a degree like never before on whoever is nominated to replace Director Comey. The integrity of our top law enforcement agency – and our democracy – is at stake!”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando:

“The circumstances surrounding the firing of FBI Director James Comey, from the timing, to the justification, to the individuals involved, are very concerning.

“We need to restore the American people’s faith in the ability of the FBI to conduct a fair and non-partisan investigation. That starts with the investigation into the Russian interference of the 2016 election, and the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia.

“It’s time for all of us to put partisanship aside, and do what’s best for the future of our democracy.”

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton:

“Not since President Nixon have we seen such a disgraceful abuse of power and attack on the integrity of our system of justice. During one of the most important national security investigations of our time, Director Comey’s firing is a blatant attack on the independence of the Justice Department. This behavior – firing the person who is investigating you – may pass in [Vladimir] Putin’s Russia, but it is disgracefully below the office of the President of the United States.

“This is only the latest in a string of alarming moves by the White House: first they fired acting-Attorney General Yates for calling attention to their compromised National Security Advisor, then Preet Bharara, and now Director Comey.

“Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions has lost any remaining credibility by getting involved in an investigation from which he promised to recuse himself. Given the actions of the White House, the American people unfortunately must now question whether anyone affiliated with this Administration can investigate this case of Russian influence honestly, thoroughly, and independently. We need a special prosecutor and an independent commission to continue this investigation without the whiff of political oversight or interference.”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Miramar:

“The FBI Director’s firing cries out for a Special Prosecutor. Up until the moment of his dismissal, Director Comey was actively investigating President Donald John Trumps’ connection to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The American people deserve to know why Director Comey was fired without reason and Donald Trump needs to explain himself immediately.”

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens:

“Like many, I was stunned to learn that President Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. This dismissal came as Comey was leading an investigation into whether individuals connected to the president coordinated with Russia to impact the 2016 presidential election.

“This abrupt action raises many serious questions and is further proof that an independent prosecutor should be named to head the Russia investigation. It also could make the possibility of such an appointment more likely. The president may think that firing Comey will help his case, but no matter who conducts the investigation, Comey will now likely be called to testify under oath and his words could do the administration far more harm than good.”

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach:

“I am no fan of Director Comey, but I’m deeply disturbed by President Trump’s decision to fire the man who is investigating him. This just goes to show that it’s now more important than ever to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in our presidential election, and possible Russian coordination with the Trump campaign.”

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando tweeted this on Twitter:

“Trump fires Comey while under investigation about Russia-Watergate all over again! #Sayfie @FlaDems @HispanicCaucus”

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee posted this on Facebook:

“The American people deserve to know the truth about the full Russia investigation and we need an independent special prosecutor to oversee it. #ComeyFiring”

Bobby Olszewski hauls $21k in first month of run for HD 44; set for special election

Republican Bobby Olszewski raised more than $21,000 in April, his first month, in a campaign that now will be abbreviated to just a few months to win the seat opening up for House District 44.

Olszewski is one of three candidates who had filed for the HD 44 seat before Republican incumbent state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle got picked Monday to fill a vacancy on the 5th Appeals Court District, opening the seat to a special election that will happen this summer, rather than in November 2018.

So far, Olszewski, a former Winter Garden commissioner who made a close run for Orange County Commission last fall, is the only one of the three who has reported raising any money. Dr. Usha Jain of Orlando – another Republican, who also ran for that Orange County seat last year, losing in the first round of balloting – has reported not raising any money through the end of April. Democrat Paul Stanton has not yet reported his April campaign finance numbers, but raised no money in his first report in March.

There’s no word yet when the special session might be set, but it would have to be at least 60 days away.

Olszewski said he’s been preparing for the prospect of running in a special election this summer from the beginning, and indeed has said so in campaign materials, including on social media, for several weeks. Eisnaugle applied for the the appeals court appointment in March.

“My campaign team, along with my volunteers and donors, are engaged, organized, and are hitting the ground running,” he said in a statement to “I am personally very excited for this special election because I am already so involved in our community. I have a new pair of walking shoes to knock on doors as well as being stocked up with plenty of sunscreen and water for the unrelenting Florida summer!”

Olszewski’s campaign finance report shows he received $20,410 in donations, and lent his campaign another $1,000. Expenses in April were been limited to $246 paid to an Arkansas fundraising consultant.

“After announcing our candidacy for Florida State House with over 30 endorsements, we are absolutely thrilled that in just three weeks, we were able to raise over $21,000 for our race during the busiest time of session in addition to not having a special election date,” he stated. “We really see the enthusiasm and momentum building every day.”

Commission makes Orange County safe for mimosas

That morning mimosa or bloody Mary, or that pitcher of beer to help get through the 8 a.m. Orlando-time match between Chelsea and Manchester United is not going to be a problem any more in Orange County restaurants.

The Orange County Commission unanimously voted to roll back the hours to 7 a.m. for the sale of alcoholic beverages in Orange County restaurants and hotels. Previously, first call was at 11 a.m.

The extended hours come late for Orange County, as several neighboring counties including tourism resort rival Osceola County, as well as several cities including Orlando already allow for drinking in restaurants and hotels that early.

“My family owns a restaurant and I realize the potential of them being able to serve mimosas in the morning during their breakfast rush, and what that could do for that small business,” said Commissioner Jennifer Thompson.

“It seems like we’re all in support of mimosas,” added Commissioner Emily Bonilla.

“It’s all about making brunches great again,” said Mayor Teresa Jacobs, borrowing a line first used by one of the speakers on the ordinance.

It also was all about making Orange County competitive, again, argued the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association, which pushed for the law change, and other tourism and hospitality groups including the International Drive Area Chamber of Commerce. With the surrounding counties and a few in-county cities already allowing for the early drinking, Orange county restaurants and hotels were watching patrons driving a few miles, or even a couple blocks in some cases, to have that morning cheer.

That included a large number of European tourists who would get up in the morning to watch their favorite soccer teams or other sports from the British Isles or the Continent, only to discover their hotel only served straight orange juice or tomato juice. Or coffee.

“This will provide a level playing field,” said Maria Triscari, president of the I-Drive Area Chamber of Commerce.

There was some concern that county officials might not have reached out enough into the community to get a more diverse response to the ordinance before voting on it. Commissioners Victoria Siplin in particular raised the concern, as did Jacobs. But in the end, no one was there to speak against morning mimosas, and Siplin and Jacobs were as enthusiastic in their support as any of the other commissioners.

John Morgan posts Twitter video calling for marijuana special session

Medical marijuana champion John Morgan turned to Twitter Tuesday afternoon to push for a special session to implement the medical marijuana law and he called for the free market – not the Florida Legislature – to decide how many dispensaries there would be.

Morgan, who earlier this week had called for a special session after the House and Senate failed to work out a final implementation bill over the weekend, turned his pitch to social media, seeking to convince Gov. Rick Scott that the people of Florida will demand he call a special session to finish the legislative work to back Florida’s medical marijuana legalization.

The Orlando lawyer who chaired United For Care tactfully praised Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Senate President Joe Negron. But he also reminded them that he spent four years pushing for medical marijuana and when he won, Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution was approved with the largest voter margin of victory ever seen in a statewide medical marijuana initiative in America.

“Let’s get this done. Let’s come back to special session. Two or three days. Let’s do what’s right. Le’ts do the people’s work. They sent you guys there for a reason. they sent you there to do their work. They trusted you. And with 71 percent of the vote, there’s no doubt what’s the will of the people,” Morgan said in an eight-minute video. “Let freedom ring. Let capitalism prosper. Let’s put people before profit. Let’s do this for the people of Florida.”

The capitalism line was one Morgan, a Democrat and potential gubernatorial candidate, returned to several times in his speech, as if trying to offer himself as the champion of capitalism that Republicans had abused. The house and Senate versions ultimately collided, crashed and burned when the two houses could not agree on how many dispensaries would be allowed statewide, he said.

“Who cares?” Morgan,  decried. “Once upon a time there were tanning saloons all over Florida, and then there weren’t. There were laser hair removal places all over Florida. then there wasn’t, because the free market ferrets it all out. The cream rises to the top, and the weak don’t make it.”

Morgan also made an open threat to sue if the final implementation bill does not include the opportunity for patients to smoke marijuana.

“The lack of smoke. That’s ridiculous,” he said. “And if it passes without smoke, I’ll sue for that, and win, because in my amendment it said, ‘Smoking is not allowed in public places.’ So everybody understood that smoke was to be allowed. It’s just another act of the Legislature ignoring the will of the people.”

Health care costs dominate Stephanie Murphy round table

A week after she watched the Republican American Health Care Act pass the House against her wishes, Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy still is getting an earful on the woes of health care, on Tuesday from a chamber of commerce meeting that did not necessarily share her concerns.

Several members of the Sanford Chamber of Commerce peppered the freshman congresswoman with complaints that the problems with health care are not those that Murphy bemoaned, such as access and pre-existing conditions, but costs to small businesses and individuals.

Murphy, elected last fall to represent Florida’s 7th Congressional District, covering Seminole County and northwest and central Orange County, recognized that this round table discussion was not a Democratic forum, one of several events she attended in Sanford on Tuesday.

She precluded the questions by stressing her willingness to work across the aisle and her personal, professional and political commitments to small businesses. But she found herself largely peppered with health care law requests that may run counter to her priorities.

Several people at the round table expressed little concern for coverage for all, or pre-existing conditions, or for refugees, but argued that the costs must be contained and brought down. One called the other issues “lipstick on a pig” when people cannot get health insurance they can afford.

Murphy, citing her husband’s small business, agreed that the costs “are prohibitive,” but mostly listened as members of the chamber relayed their concerns.

One member said she and her husband are spending $2,200 a month, for a $5,000 deductible, contending the  costs of insurance have “gone out of control.” Another said he knows small business owners unwilling to hire a 50th employee for fear they’ll be required to provide insurance. Another spoke of how he believes uncovered procedures, such as laser eye surgery, have fallen dramatically in price because the free market has driven down costs, something that does not happen for insured procedures.

Murphy responded by applauding the diversity of perspectives. “While we may not agree on everything, I think the important thing is we continue to have these conversations,” she said.


Adam Putnam kicking off governor’s race campaign in Bartow, then bus tour

Republican gubernatorial candidate and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is kicking off his 2018 campaign with a rally in his hometown Bartow Wednesday, followed by a bus tour that will take him to 22 cities in 10 days.

Putnam, who entered the race May 1 – and is the only major Republican to file thus far – will be presenting his campaign kickoff speech in Bartow, outlining his vision for the future of Florida.

That speech will be at the Old Polk County Courthouse in downtown Bartow, at 11 a.m., followed by a campaign barbecue celebration, provided by his independent political committee, Florida Grown.

Democrats have three candidates thus far, former state Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Winter Park businessman Chris King, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

The following day Putnam hits the road, visiting Dover, Tampa, Clearwater and Sarasota on Thursday.

On Friday he’ll be in Naples and Fort Myers.

On Saturday the Putnam tour will hit Sebring and Okeechobee.

There will be no campaign events on Sunday. On Monday Putnam will visit Riviera Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.

On May 16 he will be in Vero Beach, Merritt Island, and Altamonte Springs.

On May 17 the Putnam tour will visit The Villages and Jacksonville Beach.

On May 18, he will be in Fernandina Beach and Panama City.

On May 19, he’ll be in Pensacola, Destin, and Graceville.

And Putnam will wrap up his bus tour May 20 in O’Brien.

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