Adam Putnam Archives - Florida Politics

There’s already a shake-up in Adam Putnam’s campaign as manager inexplicably exits

Adam Putnam just ended a 10-day bus tour of the state to launch his bid to be the next Florida governor. And no sooner had the tour wrapped up that a major staff shake-up took place, which some believe is signaling a bigger schism in the GOP front-runner’s campaign.

Kristin Davison, Putnam’s campaign manager, was relieved of her duties Monday.

Amanda Bevis of the Putnam campaign confirmed the Davison departure: “We’re very grateful for her efforts to help this campaign get off to the strongest possible launch. We wish her the best.”

Political director Jared Small also exited the campaign.

Davison handled much of the logistical planning for Putnam’s launch and bus tour, which both were viewed as successful by grassroots types.

Davison seemed to some on the outside to be an awkward fit for the ‘Fresh from Florida’ operation, as the bulk of her professional experience was with national GOP impresario Karl Rove.

However, sources familiar with the selection process for campaign manager said there was a concerted effort to bring in people from outside the state. The feeling was those would be the “best minds.”

Those same sources assert that there is a turf war in the operation, between political operative types and the kind of people who are more comfortable in governmental offices than in the rough and tumble of retail politics.

Political watchers will be curious to see the Putnam campaign reboot, a very quick 2.0 given that the candidacy was only announced this month.

Davison’s Twitter handle was active on behalf of the campaign through Saturday but now projects radio silence.

Hackers may have names of thousands of Florida gun owners

Officials say hackers may have obtained the names of more than 16,000 people who have Florida concealed weapon permits.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced Monday they had discovered a data breach of the online payment system that processes payments for applications and permits.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has ordered a review of the department’s cybersecurity measures. State law enforcement is investigating the breach, which authorities suspect originated from overseas.

The agency stated that no financial information was obtained.

The department also warned that the breach may have revealed the social security numbers of 469 customers. The agency plans on offering free credit protection for one year to these individuals.

The Florida Legislature in 2006 passed a law that made the names of concealed weapon permit holders confidential.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Andrew Gillum picks up Julian Castro’s endorsement in Governor’s race

Democrat Andrew Gillum has picked up the endorsement of former HUD Director Julian Castro in his quest for the Florida governor’s office in 2018.

Castro, from San Antonio, was U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama.

He also will participate in a fundraising event in Miami early next month for Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, Gillum’s campaign announced.

“Our nation is at its best when it matches hard work with real opportunity. That’s the essence of the American Dream,” Castro said in a news release issued by Gillum’s campaign. “I’m proud to support Andrew Gillum for Governor because Andrew, the son of a construction worker and a bus driver, has worked hard to achieve his own dreams — and he’s worked just as hard to ensure that Floridians from every walk of life can achieve theirs.”

Gillum faces former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee and Winter Park affordable housing developer Chris King heading toward a Democratic primary. So far Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has the Republican path pretty much to himself.

“When Andrew is Governor, he will fight so that every child in Florida has the opportunity to grow and succeed in the Sunshine State,” Castro continued. “He is the candidate Democrats can best trust to stand with the courage of conviction, even when it’s not politically convenient,” Castro continued.

Gillum called Castro’s endorsement an honor.

“As HUD Secretary and San Antonio’s Mayor, Julian has put children’s health, well-being and opportunity at the forefront of his work. He has worked to ensure all of our children — no matter if they grew up in a big city or rural town — have every chance to succeed,” Gillum said. “It is an honor to have his endorsement as we continue sharing our vision for a Florida that works for everyone.”

By the numbers, Adam Putnam’s campaign off to a successful start

Adam Putnam has now spent a week on the road after his launching a 10-day, 22-city bus tour through Florida, kicking off his bid for governor.

So far, the campaign says the response has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

The state’s Agriculture Commissioner, in a series of “Up & Adam” events, has met with a wide variety of residents, grassroots supporters, small businesses, veterans, and first responders through the state.

As proof of the success of Putnam’s launch, the campaign offers some impressive (and a few lighthearted) numbers racked up during the first week of the tour:

— 2,161: Miles traveled on bus tour thus far

— 2,063: Number of attendees to May 10 announcement in Bartow

— 1,881: Number of bus tour stop attendees who committed to vote for Putnam thus far

— 1,007: Number of bus tour stop attendees who signed up to volunteer thus far

— 160: Average number of attendees per bus tour stop

— 100: Silver Sharpies purchased for supporters to sign the bus

— 99: Silver Sharpies out of ink [Campaign Note: Buy more Sharpies at the next stop!]

— 53: Cups of coffee brewed on campaign bus

— 17: Cities visited on the bus tour thus far

— 7: Days spent on the bus tour thus far

— 5: Cities left on the bus tour

— 3: Days left on the bus tour

The tour will continue through the Panhandle in Panama City, Pensacola, Destin and Graceville. The bus tour concludes Saturday at a BBQ in O’Brien. Details, photos and more information is at AdamPutnam.com.

Adam Putnam pitches ‘Florida exceptionalism’ in Jax Beach

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam continued barnstorming the state Wednesday evening, with a stop in Jacksonville Beach.

Putnam — the first serious declared candidate on the GOP side — expected and got a warm reception from locals in Duval County, with 158 politicians and GOP insiders out in force.

The sepia-tinged speech, revolving around themes of “Florida exceptionalism” rooted in an era that is arguably either bygone or never actually happened, is more or less unchanged stop to stop. However, Putnam will need a strong showing in Northeast Florida, and with that in mind, this report focuses on that specific play.

Putnam was introduced by a political legend in these parts: former Rep. Ander Crenshaw, who vowed to “spend the next year” working for the Agriculture Commissioner.

Crenshaw, the last major candidate to run for Governor from these parts, spoke in general terms before passing the mike to Putnam … who himself spoke in general terms, about his appeal to “all of Florida … every corner of Florida.”

Putnam mixed it up, just a bit, saying Florida “needs a CEO who knows the difference between Callahan and Clewiston,” before going broad again, saying the race was “not North Florida versus South Florida … interior versus coasts.”

Rather, it’s about all of Florida — the “launch pad for the American dream,” and the “wonderment” people feel when they experience the Sunshine State for the first time. That trope was interestingly negated just minutes later, when Putnam spoke of the need to “rebuild the middle class, rebuild Main Street,” as if mere “wonderment” alone won’t get the job done.

Putnam spoke in broad terms about his philosophy of education, which includes “eliminating stupid laws and stupid rules” and not letting any “bureaucrat” stand between parents and students.

As well, the candidate took a position in favor of “hard work,” which we’ve “stigmatized … somewhere along the way.”

Putnam did namecheck, in broad terms, the importance of Mayport and JAXPORT. But those were footnotes in a road tested speech — the stump equivalent of nostalgia mayonnaise on a saltine cracker. It was filling — the crowd, including many elected politicians, liked the speech.

But in terms of nutrition, of specifics … there wasn’t a lot of there there.

The interview time, after the remarks and the handshakes wrapped, didn’t offer much more either.

We asked Putnam about his advice to Governor Rick Scott to be aggressive with the veto pen, which many took as an aggressiveness targeted toward Florida House members who voted against economic incentives.

Of members of the Duval Delegation in the House, only one voted for incentives — and he wasn’t carrying any appropriations bills.

Putnam didn’t mean it that way, he said.

“What I said was that if I was the governor, I would use the line item veto aggressively, and that would be a better approach than vetoing the entire budget, which would require the entire Legislature to come back into session,” Putnam said.

Rejecting the characterization of that advice as punitive, Putnam said he was simply advising Scott to “exercise his executive authority.”

We then asked about some potential opponents: House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis from the right, State Sen. Jack Latvala from somewhere closer to the center.

As the only person in the race, Putnam is the default front runner; however, what happens when opponents and political committees start gunning for him?

Putnam was not concerned.

“I’ve been a conservative my whole life. That’s not changing. And I’ve been an optimist my whole life. You have to be when you’re a farmer, so if they want to pack a lunch, sharpen their knives, come on, let’s go.”

When asked specifics about Northeast Florida, and what he would bring to the region, Putnam took a high-level view.

“Northeast Florida,” said Putnam, “is a critically important part of the state’s economy. And the state’s political base. Northeast Florida has a unified business community, and they send hardworking men and women to Tallahassee and Washington.”

“So whether it’s the jobs that Northeast Florida continues to attract, the importance of the port, the importance of the river, Northeast Florida is and will always be an important part of the state’s political conversation, and most importantly, the state’s economy,” Putnam added.

Ag. Commish candidate Denise Grimsley introduces herself to Tampa Republicans

Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley made the first of what should be many visits to Tampa during the next year-and-a-half, introducing herself to local Republicans and speaking about her credentials as to why she’s the best candidate to succeed Adam Putnam.

Like Putnam, she’s a fifth-generation Floridian, but unlike him, she had an entire career outside of politics before being elected in 2004 to represent Highlands County in the Florida House.

Grimsley spent 17 years in the health care field. She also spent time as a citrus grower and rancher when she took over for her ailing father at the Grimsley Oil Company.

“When I did that, I started seeing how government impacted our day-to-day life,” Grimsley told the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee, which gathered at the River at Tampa Bay Church Tuesday night. Before that, she said, she had little interest in the workings of government.

“Up until then, even at my job at the hospital. I didn’t have a lot of involvement with state government or the federal government, but when I started running this company I saw how the Department of Transpiration oversaw our business, I saw how the Department of Agriculture oversaw our business, every single state agency had their  hand in our business in one way or another,” she said.

As chairwoman of the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores Association, Grimsley said that she spent an entire legislative session in Tallahassee and was met mostly with ignorance or indifference. That experience ultimately led to her decision to run for the state House in 2004, where she served until 2012.

She then won in Senate District 26 (representing eight different counties) in 2012, but said she didn’t seriously consider running for Ag. Commissioner until former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced in January that he would not be running for the position.

She says she’s concerned about citrus greening and other diseases that are wreaking havoc with Florida growers. She believes her public and private sector experience make the best candidate for the job.

Before the meeting began, an aide to Grimsley asked members of the audience to sign a petition to get Grimsley on the ballot. She says she would be the first statewide Republican candidate since the 1990s to qualify for the ballot by petition … She needs more than 118,000 signatures by next summer.

Other Republicans running for the position include Paul Paulson and North Fort Myers Representative Matt Caldwell, who has just released his first campaign video.

Adam Putnam brings ‘Florida First’ tour to Altamonte Springs

Republican gubernatorial candidate and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam brought his “Florida First” campaign to the Orlando area for the first time Tuesday afternoon, promising conservative, pro-growth values and belittling liberals he expects to go after him.

The fifth-generation Floridian and former state and U.S. lawmaker continued the opening themes of his brand new campaign, declaring “Florida exceptionalism” is why people want to visit and move here and vowing to promote that as Florida’s governor, and to prevent it from turning into a liberal and high-tax bastion like California, Illinois and New York.

“I believe there is a special obligation to be a Floridian, to keep Florida special, knowing that people from all over the world want to visit or move here. I want to Florida to be more than a prize for a life well-lived someplace else. I want Florida to be the launch pad for the American dream!” Putnam said to a warm reception of more than 100 people at the Eastmonte Civic Center in Altamonte Springs.

“And it can be that if we put Florida first!” he declared.

In his speech Putnam broke little new ground compared with what he’s been saying since he kicked off his campaign before 2,000 people in his hometown of Bartow last month.

In a press availability afterwards, Putnam said there is plenty in the 2017-18 budget just passed by the Florida Legislature that he would veto, though he was not specific; he criticized the Legislature for not reaching a deal on a medical marijuana enactment bill; said he would vote as a member of the Florida Cabinet to pardon the “Groveland Four,” as requested by the Legislature.

He also deflected a question about whether he would, as governor, invoke a states’ waiver included in the American Health Care Act to opt Florida out of having to cover pre-existing conditions. As a former member of Congress, Putnam expressed skepticism that the waiver will still be in the bill when it leaves the U.S. Senate, and said he hopes the final bill includes coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Putnam begins his campaign with a 10-day, 22-stop tour that’s hitting both big cities and small towns.

So far he has no real competition for the Republican primary, and his independent political committee, armed with almost $8 million to start, may intimidate away all but the most courageous. The Democrats, meanwhile, are heading for a primary brawl, with three major candidates so far, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King, and others mulling the race.

Putnam spoke of conservative leadership over the past six years fueling the Florida economy, painting images of hotel maids opening their own bed-and-breakfasts, and of the Space Coast being even better with private space industry emerging there than it ever was when it relied on NASA.

“American exceptionalism, Florida exceptionalism, is still very much alive and well in the Sunshine State in 2017 and it will be even stronger when I get elected,” he said.

“Florida, with limited government, a focus on Constitutional freedom, liberty, law and order, Florida is the destination of choice for people to come here to find their piece of the American dream,” he added.

He called for protection of gun rights and boasted that the state’s number of concealed weapons permits dramatically increased under his commission, and argued that is a key reason why Florida’s crime rate has fallen.

Putnam also called for the state to not only push technical and vocational education more, but said the state needs to do a better job of advising students of the high-wage jobs they can pursue with vocational education.

He also vowed great support and homage to be paid to service members, veterans, police and other first responders.

“And our men and women in law enforcement, the military, and those who serve our nation and their families will know that Florida is the most veteran and military and law enforcement friendly state in the entire country, hands down,” Putnam said.

Chris King says uncontested Republican rule has failed Florida’s working families

Unlike the other four Democrats who have either entered the race for governor or are seriously flirting with the possibility, Winter Park businessman Chris King is somewhat of a blank slate for the majority of party members in Florida.

That’s why appearances at events like Monday night’s Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee are taking on added significance.

“We have an affordable housing crisis all over the state,” King addressed Democrats gathered at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County in Ybor City. “It is felt deeply here in Hillsborough County. There are 2.6 Floridians who don’t have access to a doctor who knows their name. Forty-five percent of our jobs pay less than $15 an hour, we have partisan gerrymandering, we’ve been fighting for years, we have toxic algae blooms we  can see from space, 90 percent of our students are in public school, and 90 percent of the conversation coming out of Tally is about.”

He paused as the crowd quietly announced: “Charters.”

During his 22-minute speech, the 38-year-old King talked policy and biography. He followed that with another 15 minutes of question-and-answer with DEC members.

King is CEO of Elevation Financial group, the Winter Park company he began over a decade ago with his brother, which invests in affordable and senior housing in the Southeast. While he hits the familiar Democratic talking points — education, health care and the environment — King also makes an issue out of the lack of affordable housing in the state, an issue which many other Democrats only give lip service.

“It’s not fair that we have huge tax cuts to the biggest corporations in America while were raiding the affordable housing trust fund to the tune of $1.7 billion over the last 15 years, which has been an all-out attack on seniors, on law enforcement, on recent college graduates, anyone who wants to make a life here in Florida” he said, referring to the fact that for the 10th year in a row, state lawmakers are proposing to sweep money from the affordable housing trust funds into the general revenue fund to spend on other purposes.

Echoing Bernie Sanders, King says the biggest problem in Florida is an economy which isn’t working for enough working families.

“Our economy is going in one direction — down,” he says, casting a different version of Florida than the one depicted last week by the only Republican to declare his candidacy for governor, Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam.

“The story that is not told — and we haven’t done a good job as Democrats, unfortunately of telling it over the last several decades — is that the party that stands up and says they’re the party of economic opportunity, they’re the party of growth and business and jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, actually in the last 15 years in Florida we’ve been on a steady decline. It’s not talked about, but it’s felt by working families all over Florida.”

King says that Florida’s per capita GDP is nearly identical today to where it was in 2000, and says that blame for that economic stagnation is completely on Republicans, who have controlled all levers of state government for nearly two decades.

“Florida is not growing, and it’s hurting families and our ability to do really anything that you and I care about,” King continued. He said if elected he would implement a “jump start fund” to make capital accessible to small business people.

King is one of three Democrats to have officially entered the 2018 sweepstakes for governor. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was the first candidate out of the gate, and was followed by former Tallahassee area Congresswoman Gwen Graham two weeks ago.

Orlando attorney/entrepreneur John Morgan says he’s no rush to declare if he’s running (or not), while Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is in a “testing the waters” phase. Levine will speak at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club this Friday.

 

2,100 wildfires have burned in Florida since start of year

State officials say 170,000 acres in Florida have burned from wildfires since the start of the year.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said that more than 127 active fires were burning in Florida as of Monday.

Since the start of 2017, there have been more than 2,100 wildfires in Florida.

Putnam says drought conditions and high wildfire danger will continue for some time since May is traditionally one of the driest months of the year in Florida.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Ron DeSantis for Governor? Don’t rule it out

Adam Putnam may have some competition for the Republican nomination for Florida Governor after all.

Sources very familiar with the thinking of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis note that he is looking at a run for the state’s top job, with a decision to be made late in the summer.

Were he to run, he would be a very serious candidate for the job — posing an existential threat to Putnam, as DeSantis could very quickly own the space to Putnam’s right.

DeSantis, who was far and away the strongest fundraiser in the GOP primary race for Senate in 2016 (ended when Marco Rubio decided to run for re-election), has some advantages that others lack.

Among them: name identification, as Team DeSantis asserts that the nationally-known Northeast Florida Congressman has better name id than either Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran or State Sen. Jack Latvala.

As well, DeSantis has $3M at his disposal already; were he to enter the race, that war chest would grow quickly.

However, no decision is imminent — yet. DeSantis is still working on the federal level, with a number of issues he wants to push forward ahead of the August recess.

DeSantis, unlike presumptive GOP Senate nominee Rick Scott, has not secured or even asked for the blessing of President Donald Trump. However, given DeSantis’ national profile, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Trump does not support the nationally-known conservative.

Conversations DeSantis is having about the race are the kind of stakeholder talks one would expect in the pre-candidacy phase — “open” conversations with local, state, and national figures.

Those conversations reveal a “real hesitation about Putnam,” we are told.

Meanwhile, any support that Corcoran may be interested in securing from Americans for Prosperity may be blunted, effectively, by the vast majority of members of the board of directors having given to DeSantis for Senate already.

DeSantis is going to be worth watching in the next few months, as he has the biggest national profile of any potential gubernatorial candidate, with hits on Fox News Channel a few times a week.

While Attorney General may be another option, the reality is that for DeSantis, the time to make a move for the top job in the state is likely now.

For Northeast Florida conservatives, meanwhile, DeSantis may be the best shot in decades to take the governor’s office.

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