Adam Putnam – Page 2 – Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: We haven’t seen the last of Richard Corcoran

While it unquestionably is the right time for Richard Corcoran to go home to Land O’Lakes, as he promised to do if he didn’t run for Governor, that doesn’t mean he will stay there.

At age 53, Corcoran has a lot of hop left on his political fastball. I would be stunned if we don’t see him in a significant role if Adam Putnam is elected Governor this fall.

It became clear in recent weeks that a Corcoran candidacy was attracting stifled yawns from the electorate. I’ll give him credit for seeing the landscape as it really was and not pushing a losing hand. Aligning with Putnam was the smart play for him, and we’ll see how that unfolds.

I’m not saying there was a quid-pro-quo between Putnam and Corcoran that led to the outgoing Florida House Speaker’s exit Wednesday from a race he never officially entered. But his rapid endorsement of Putnam means we shouldn’t be surprised if Corcoran shows up somewhere in a Putnam administration.

For instance, would anyone be shocked if he took a prominent role in education leadership? Those aren’t elected positions, and Corcoran is passionate about changing the way Florida’s children receive their education.

He is a lawyer, so he can go back to that full-time if he chooses. He is a family man with growing children, so staying closer to home would have appeal. His political expertise would be in demand if he wants to do some consulting.

Obviously, all that is speculation until we see how the election shakes out. And while pundits are combing through the story of Corcoran’s gambit looking for deeper meaning, I doubt it will have much impact on the Republican primary or general election.

Corcoran had raised a lot of money and spent time trying to build drama for what looked like a commitment to run, but his campaign that technically wasn’t a campaign didn’t go anywhere.

It wasn’t happening.

It’s interesting how someone who spent as much time in the headlines as Corcoran couldn’t penetrate the public consciousness. His name recognition, for good or not, should have been considerable.

Political writers penned a lot of stories about Corcoran, and the impact of his two years as Speaker was considerable.

Florida’s public-school leaders basically spit on the ground when his name is mentioned.

He was an unapologetic antagonist to the education status quo, and that meant shepherding through laws that benefitted charter schools and forced cash-strapped public schools to look for pennies in the seat cushions.

For all that impact, though, his name didn’t connect with a big majority of Florida voters.

Even after his ill-considered attempt to terrify citizens with that horrible commercial about undocumented immigrants and murder, his name still didn’t register on the radar of everyday Floridians.

So, even though he is in Putnam’s corner, it’s likely nothing that will tilt the election.

Corcoran would have been the X-factor in the Republican primary, which now is a two-man scrum between Putnam and Fox News darling Ron DeSantis.

But even though he won’t be on the ballot this time or maybe ever again, we haven’t seen the last of Corcoran.

It’s up to the individual to decide if that’s good news or ill.

Rick Scott, Cabinet eye land conservation projects

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet are expected next month to consider whether to spend nearly $11 million to help limit future development on four ranches and farms in four counties.

The proposals would add 8,388 acres to the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which through the use of “conservation easements” restricts future development but allows owners to continue using land for such things as agricultural operations.

Scott and the Cabinet had been expected to take up the proposals during a meeting next week, but the meeting was canceled because Scott plans to attend the funeral of Highlands County Deputy William Gentry, who was shot to death while on duty. McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Scott, said the agenda for the scheduled Tuesday meeting would be rolled to a June 13 meeting.

The proposals are a 4,476-acre project in Highlands County known as Goolsby Ranch, with a cost of $7.63 million; a 929-acre project in Manatee County known as Howze Ranch, with a cost of $1.5 million; a 1,400-acre project in Madison County known as Sampala Lake Ranch, with a cost of $1.26 million; and a 1,583-acre project in Putnam County known as Rodman Plantation, with a cost of $540,000.

State staff members have recommended approval of all four projects. The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, a priority of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, has been used 41 times to secure 42,276 acres across the state.

Richard Corcoran endorses Adam Putnam; won’t appear on ballot

State House Speaker Richard Corcoran, once widely expected to enter the Governor’s race, has endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam.

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, made the announcement Wednesday morning at the Florida Association of Realtors. The move ends long-running speculation the Speaker would run for Governor — or any other office in 2018

Corcoran, who is term-limited this fall, framed the decision to stay off the ballot as sticking to his “word.” He told media repeatedly that he’d run for Governor or otherwise “go home.”

“I’m proud to say that decision is, thoroughly, we’re going home,” Corcoran said after delivering his endorsement of the Agriculture Commissioner.

News broke Tuesday night of Corcoran’s intent to back Putnam and stay out of the gubernatorial race. He teased a “big announcement” last week, at which point guesswork from political circles produced theories of an entrance into the Attorney General race or maintained he’d make a late debut into the Governor’s race.

In endorsing Putnam, Corcoran lauded the Bartow native’s character and commitment to the state.

“Adam is sincere, he is authentic, he is principled, he is passionate,” Corcoran said. “He loves this state.”

The Speaker also pointed to the field of gubernatorial competition, particularly Democrats, and messaged his support as a move to avoid the consequence of a potential Democratic victory.

He listed the accomplishments of Republican control in Florida. Among them: cutting taxes and red tape, reducing state debt, adding to reserves, building up the state university system and contributing to overall job growth.

All Democratic candidates, Corcoran said, intend to walk back those successes.

“What’s daunting, what’s troubling is that we have every Democratic candidate taking the position that they’re going to roll back and overregulate as much as they possibly can. They’re going to raise taxes, they’re going to take all of those victories and put those burdens back on the people of the state that can ill-afford them — while right now [Floridians] are prospering to a tremendous degree,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran said he isn’t one to “sit on the sidelines” after making a decision. After opting not to run for the Governor’s Mansion, it took him “2.2. seconds” to determine he’d back Putnam.

Fundraising totals evidenced the Speaker’s early intent to run. At the end of 2017, Corcoran-affiliated Watchdog PAC had amassed more than $6 million in contributions. Testing the waters of the electorate, the PAC doled out early spends on issue-based ads and self-promos in 2018, so much so that at the end of April Watchdog had under $2 million at the ready. The amount pales in comparison to Putnam’s cash prowess; he’s raised more than $28 million to date.

As far as the remaining cash in Watchdog is concerned, Corcoran said he’d sit down with leadership to discuss where the money should go. He hinted it might shift over to competitive statewide legislative races.

“I think what’s also important is that we maintain a majority in the [state] House and a majority in the [state] Senate,” Corcoran said. He added he’ll be meeting with state Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, who chairs the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, or the GOP campaign arm of the state Senate. 

Some of the cash also could end up in Putnam’s hands, Corcoran said.

“I think it’s important that Florida is a bellwether state; what happens in Florida goes to every other single state,” Corcoran said.

The Republican primary now boasts just two candidates. Putnam will compete with full-throated support from Corcoran as a longtime concierge of the Sunshine State, while U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, of Ponte Vedra, will run with the backing of President Donald Trump.

The DeSantis campaign has framed the recent endorsement as something that “only matters to insiders.”

“Conservative principles don’t matter to career insiders, just deals and deal making,” DeSantis camp press secretary David Vasquez said. “That’s why we’re not surprised to see this corrupt bargain even after Richard Corcoran accurately called out Adam Putnam’s support for amnesty for illegal immigrants. Or after Adam Putnam said he wouldn’t have signed Richard Corcoran’s signature school choice legislation. But when you’re in the Tallahassee swamp, conservative principles are expendable for political expediency.”

Talk of DeSantis was limited Wednesday morning, though Corcoran showed that he won’t refrain from campaigning against the congressman on Putnam’s behalf.

When asked about DeSantis’ remarks, Corcoran quipped, “Was it from a studio in New York?”

Ron DeSantis campaign on Richard Corcoran endorsement of Adam Putnam: Who cares?

The imminent endorsement Wednesday morning of Adam Putnam for governor by the man who almost made it a three-Republcian field, Richard Corcoran, is being mocked by the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis’ campaign characterized the expected endorsement by Florida House Speaker Corcoran of Florida Agriculture Commissioner Putnam as a “career insider” endorsing “fellow career insider.”

This is what career political insiders do, suggested David Vasquez, press secretary for Ron DeSantis for Governor.

“Insiders only know how to play one game, and that’s making deals to save their own skin,” Vasquez stated in a news release issued Wednesday morning. “After a year of campaigning and millions of dollars of special interest money spent, career insider Adam Putnam’s campaign has flatlined. So, he’s turning to dealmaking in the Tallahassee swamp. Today he’ll stand in the shadow of the state capital in the middle of the Tallahassee swamp and receive the endorsement of a fellow career insider, one that will only matter to his fellow swamp dwellers.”

DeSantis is the congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach riding the endorsement of President Donald Trump. In a news release issued Wednesday morning, Vasquez characterized the two-man field for the August 28 Republican primary nomination for governor as  a candidate endorsed by Trump “vs. a Never Trump career politician.”

“Conservative principles don’t matter to career insiders, just deals and dealmaking,” Vasquez continued. “That’s why we’re not surprised to see this corrupt bargain even after Richard Corcoran accurately called out Adam Putnam’s support for amnesty for illegal immigrants. Or after Adam Putnam said he wouldn’t have signed Richard Corcoran’s signature school choice legislation. But when you’re in the Tallahassee swamp, conservative principles are expendable for political expediency.”

“Career politician, Adam Putnam, will now get the two-man race he’s been fearing for a year,” he concluded. “A conservative Iraq Veteran endorsed by Donald Trump vs. a Never Trump career politician who supported amnesty for illegal aliens. We like our odds.”

Richard Corcoran to forego statewide run; will back Adam Putnam for Governor

Onlookers have been wondering for weeks when House Speaker Richard Corcoran would do the expected and put his name in the hat to be Florida’s next governor.

After millions raised and millions spent testing the water for a potential statewide run, his announcement is sure to be a shocker: He isn’t running, he’s endorsing Adam Putnam.

Several sources close to one or both men confirm Corcoran’s decision.

Corcoran will join Putnam at a press conference at the Florida Association of REALTORS® at 9:30 a.m.

Supporters of Putnam are already excited by the news of the Speaker backing the Polk Republican’s bid.

“The Speaker has long been identified as closer in ideology with Ron DeSantis, so for him to join our team is a very big win,” said one Putnam booster.

Brad Herold, an adviser to the DeSantis campaign, had a different take.

“Career politician Adam Putnam will now get the two-man race he’s been fearing for a year,” he said. “A conservative Iraq veteran endorsed by Donald Trump versus a Never Trump career politician who supported amnesty for illegal aliens. I like our odds.“

Florida Democrats took it a step further, saying the Corcoran endorsement was “the swamp creatures of the world” uniting, and claiming that Corcoran’s policy positions “which include selling out students to the charter school industry, demonizing immigrants, and vehemently opposing Medicaid expansion” would no nothing but hurt Putnam.

“With the candidates now set, the Republican gubernatorial primary will be a brutal contest between the worst of Washington and the worst of Tallahassee. This is going to be one of the ugliest, hottest summers Florida Republicans have ever seen — and whoever emerges as the eventual nominee will be deeply damaged,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Kevin Donohoe.

The endorsement ends months of speculation that Corcoran would seek the Governor’s mansion by running to the right of DeSantis, a northeast Florida congressman who has earned the backing of President Donald Trump and numerous GOP rainmakers, including Sheldon Adelson and Robert Mercer.

Putnam would be considered the more moderate candidate if he, Corcoran and DeSantis were the triumvirate Republican voters had to choose from.

For a while, it seemed as if Corcoran was going to go through with a far-right primary campaign.

His opening salvo in the race to replace termed out Gov. Rick Scott was a controversial commercial that highlighted the story of Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman who was killed by an undocumented immigrant who was later acquitted of murder.

His focus on banning so-called “sanctuary cities” in both the ad and in his role has House Speaker led to a debate against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor.

At the time, Corcoran had been announcing six-figure fundraising hauls and ad buys month in and month out, so one could be forgiven for thinking the stunt was a preview ahead of a possible general election showdown.

Corcoran had long said he’d announce his future plans after the 2018 Legislative Session, which was Scott’s plan as well, but in the nearly two months since he last banged the gavel as House Speaker he’s gone radio silent.

In the meantime, DeSantis has blown by him in fundraising and Putnam shows no sign of letting up on that front either.

Corcoran’s viability in that three-way race has diminished with each passing week he’s been on the sidelines, leading some to speculate that if he were to run, his campaign would be more to spoil DeSantis’ chances than to succeed Scott.

That theory gets the end goal right, it seems. As far as what’s next for the Land O’ Lakes Republican, that’s anyone’s guess. At least until tomorrow morning.

This story is developing.

Philip Levine, Ron DeSantis with slight leads in gubernatorial primaries, new poll shows

The race for Florida governor is tight on both sides of the aisle, with Democrat Philip Levine and Republican Ron DeSantis barely edging out the opposition in their respective primaries.

That’s according to a new poll from Florida Atlantic University’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative.

However, a plurality of registered voters in both parties is undecided, with 43 percent unsure who they’ll support in the Republican primary and 42 percent not yet committing to a Democrat.

That means candidates have plenty of voters to pick up between now and August 28.

Among registered Republicans who say they’ve made up their mind, 16 percent support DeSantis. Adam Putnam is right behind with 15 percent support. No other Republican candidate currently has double-digit support, according to the poll.

On the Democratic side, Levine leads Gwen Graham by the same margin, 16 percent to 15 percent. Chris King sits in third with 10 percent of the vote.

Looking at likely voters increases the front-runners’ leads, but not by much. Likely voters have DeSantis leading Putnam 20 percent to 17 percent, and Levine over Graham 18 percent to 15 percent.

The poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters in Florida from May 4-7. Overall 34 percent of those surveyed were Republicans, 34 percent were Democrats and 32 percent were independents. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Reacting to the results, BEPI Director Dr. Monica Escaleras says nothing is certain with more than four months to go until the primaries, especially with so many voters still undecided.

“It is not unusual to have so many undecided voters at this early stage, as even the leading candidates are still introducing themselves to much of Florida,” adding that the “race for governor remains wide open.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidates take aim at Republicans on Teacher Appreciation Day

Andrew Gillum is tussling with his possible opponent in the Florida gubernatorial race, Adam Putnam, over his failure to back Gillum’s plan to raise pay for Florida teachers.

That’s part of a rollout by Democrats on Teacher Appreciation Day highlighting their support for teachers’ issues, while they accuse Republicans of falling behind the curve.

Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor running for the Democratic nod for governor, has proposed raising corporate taxes from 5.5 percent to 7.75 percent to fund that pay raise. Gillum claims the tax hike will allow the state’s teachers to make $50,000 per year minimum, and will also pay for school infrastructure.

When asked about Gillum’s proposal to raise taxes to fund a pay raise, Putnam said, “I don’t think that’s the right formula.” He went on to say, “Our teachers are doing an extraordinary job. They want respect, they want to be honored, and they want to be treated like the professionals that they are. That includes pay. But if you ask teachers who are leaving teaching as a profession, pay is about sixth on the list. They want a governor who will have their back.”

Gillum called out Putnam for that response: “Only a multimillionaire like Adam Putnam would think that teachers don’t want or deserve a raise, and he’s sadly out of touch with Florida’s working families and teachers. I’m the only candidate with a plan to invest at least $1 billion in our public schools, students and teachers to make sure our kids are ready to succeed, and to ensure our teachers start their careers with a salary of $50,000 as they do their critical work.”

The Tallahassee mayor followed that up with a new education ad, touting his K-12 proposals and also highlighting the fact he was first in his family to graduate high school and college. “He’ll be a champion for our public school students, teachers and schools as Governor,” a statement for his campaign reads.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine also got in on the action with a $1 million ad buy focusing on his aim to raise teacher pay by $10,000.

“For too long, teachers and school personnel in Florida have been under constant attack. In our state, teachers are underpaid, and worse, underappreciated,” said the Levine campaign. “As Governor, we will make sure that Florida’s teachers are treated with respect and we raise our salaries to be competitive with the national average. As a product of Broward public schools, I will be committed to fighting for our school children in every neighborhood, so every child can earn a world-class education.”

The Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee also put the spotlight on Republicans’ calls to arm teachers following the Parkland shooting in February.

“State Republicans have repeatedly chosen to divert funding from public schools to unregulated private schools,” a statement from the FDLCC reads. “Now, in the name of safety, they are beefing up security to the point where school campuses will look more like prisons — complete with metal detectors, see-through backpacks, and armed school personnel.

“Policies like these have strapped our teachers with inadequate wages and low morale, crippled our schools with meager budgets, and left our kids without the resources they need to excel. Florida deserves better.”

The FDLCC followed that up with a petition to invest more in Florida’s teachers. “On this Teacher’s Day, say you’ll take a stand with Florida’s Democrats.” The party clearly hopes their proposals for Florida teachers will lead to voters standing with them in November as well.

American Bridge labels Ron DeSantis as “Trump’s #1 Fan”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam may be winning the fundraising battle in the Republican primary for Florida governor. But liberal activist group American Bridge thinks that U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the endorsed candidate of President Donald Trump, is the “frontrunner.”

To that end, the group has set up a website and is launching a digital ad campaign, both in English and Spanish, starting Tuesday, with DeSantis in its crosshairs.

The message of the campaign: DeSantis is Trump’s “#1 fan.”

The spot strings together one statement after another in which DeSantis offers uncritical endorsements of Trump, saying “he’s the best we’ve had as President for a long time, maybe ever” and the like.

Per an internal strategy memo, American Bridge laid out its thinking: “Putnam, long believed to be the front-runner, has turned in a remarkably weak performance, and Congressman Ron DeSantis increasingly looks like the new front-runner in the Republican primary.”

“As a permanent fixture on FOX News, an entrenched member of the Tea Party, and Trump’s personally endorsed nominee, on paper, he looks like a GOP primary voter’s dream. The same profile that makes DeSantis a strong primary candidate, however, will be toxic in the general election, as demonstrated by historical trends, current polling, recent Democratic gains in the state, and the swing nature of Florida’s electorate.”

The memo asserts that “Republicans’ structural weaknesses will be compounded when voters begin to hear more about the disastrous DeSantis-Trump agenda and its consequences for Florida. In Washington, DeSantis has voted with Trump more than 94% of the time.”

Attorney General candidates split on felons’ rights

Republicans running to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi would continue with the state’s legal approach to defending a controversial process for restoring felons’ voting rights.

But Democrats seeking the state Cabinet post oppose Bondi’s handling of the legal battle and support a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters in November, would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences.

The Republican primary for attorney general, pitting state House members Frank White and Jay Fant and former Hillsborough County Judge Ashley Moody, has been more contentious than the Democratic contest. But White and Moody agree on supporting an effort led by Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott to fend off a federal lawsuit that would require an overhaul of Florida’s process to restore felons’ voting rights.

Fant’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

White said Bondi, who has been a key supporter of policies that have made it harder to restore felons’ rights, should be “commended for defending our Constitution.”

“The 14th Amendment gives the Governor broad discretion to grant and deny clemency,” White said. “Liberal activists and their lawyers are playing election-year politics with a process that is expressly defined in our Constitution.”

The lawsuit, filed last year by the Fair Elections Legal Network and the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC on behalf of nine felons, contends the state’s vote-restoration system is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Under the current process, felons must wait five or seven years after their sentences are complete to apply to have rights restored. After applications are filed, the process can take years to complete.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered Scott, Bondi and the two other members of the Cabinet — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — who serve as the clemency board to overhaul Florida’s process of restoring felons’ voting rights. But the state has appealed the case, and a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked an order by Walker that would have required the state to quickly change the process last month.

In supporting Bondi, Moody echoed White, calling the lawsuit “another example of activists inappropriately attempting to use our judicial system to overturn decisions by our elected officials.”

“If one believes that a different system should be utilized, the answer is not to claim the current system is unconstitutional,” Moody said. “The answer is to discuss the issue in the elections and let the voters decide.”

Moody and White oppose the proposed constitutional amendment, which will appear on the November ballot as Amendment 4.

“I cannot in good conscience support Amendment 4 as it will allow violent offenders the automatic restoration of rights without a case-by-case determination of when restoration is appropriate,” Moody said. “Although, I do believe we should consider a less cumbersome procedure for restoration of rights for nonviolent felons.”

A political committee known as Floridians for a Fair Democracy collected enough petitions to put the proposed amendment on the ballot. If approved, it would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences, completed parole and paid restitution. Murderers and sex offenders would be excluded.

The Democratic candidates for attorney general, state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa and Hillsborough County attorney Ryan Torrens, support the proposed constitutional amendment and agree with critics of the current process who argue Scott and the Cabinet use clemency in a discriminatory manner.

Torrens said his intention, if elected, would be to seek withdrawal of the state’s appeal in the vote-restoration case.

“I believe that our citizens who have paid their debt to society should be able to participate in our democracy again by exercising the right to vote,” Torrens said.

Shaw’s campaign said the state should not continue to waste taxpayer dollars defending a flawed and discriminatory system.

“Our society is one that believes in second chances, and a single mistake should not define an individual for the rest of their life,” Shaw’s campaign said.

Bondi and Scott led efforts to tighten the rights-restoration process after taking office in 2011.

Since the changes went into effect, Scott — whose support is required for any type of clemency to be granted — and the board have restored the rights of 3,005 of the more than 30,000 convicted felons who’ve applied, according to the Florida Commission on Offender Review. There’s a backlog of more than 10,000 pending applications, according to the commission.

In contrast, more than 155,000 ex-felons had their right to vote automatically restored during the four years of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s tenure, according to court documents.

Republished with permission of The News Service of Florida.

Joe Henderson: Adam Putnam ensures abortion will be major campaign issue

Nothing divides the people of this nation like the issue of abortion. Not even guns.

If you support a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, opponents will scream that you’re a baby murderer.

On the other side, if you believe life begins at conception and is sacred, you must be a zealot or a sexist pig trying to control a woman’s body.

There really is no middle ground, and GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam basically just ensured it will be a major issue in the upcoming election, perhaps even eclipsing the battle over gun control.

Saturday at a Republican campaign forum, Putnam said that if he is elected this fall and a so-called heartbeat bill reaches his desk, “I will sign it. That life is real. It should be protected. It should be defended.”

That’s not an example of campaign pandering to friendly voices. That’s a core belief for Putnam and many conservatives, and there is no compromise. To them, Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, is one of the darkest days in the history of the United States.

So, if Republicans keep control of the Governor’s Mansion and the Florida Legislature, we probably should expect that “heartbeat bill” Putnam alluded to will show up here in some form.

And we also should expect opponents will pull out every legal or political means to block passage of such a law.

The heartbeat bill — signed into law last week in Iowa — outlaws abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That usually happens at about six weeks, and many women may not even realize they are pregnant by then.

There are exceptions for rape and incest.

The previous Iowa law allowed abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds released a statement after signing the controversial bill that said in part: “I understand that not everyone will agree with this decision. But if death is determined when a heart stops beating, then doesn’t a beating heart indicate life? For me, it is immoral to stop an innocent beating heart. For me, it is sickening to sell fetal body parts. For me, my faith leads me to protect every Iowan, no matter how small.”

This may be the opening abortion opponents have longed for, since it obviously will trigger a legal fight that could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court they believe is tilted their way now. The American Civil Liberties Union immediately announced it will sue to have the Iowa law overturned, and others will follow.

Florida is no newcomer to the abortion debate. In January, a judge declared a law requiring a woman to delay an abortion by at least 24 hours after visiting her doctor was unconstitutional.

But none of that likely would deter Florida legislators from moving ahead with their own version of a heartbeat bill.

That’s why it could become the defining social issue of the upcoming campaign for control of the Legislature and governor’s mansion.

Yes, gun control will continue to be a major debate, but there can be nuance there, despite what Marion Hammer and the National Rifle Association believe. People can support the Second Amendment and still favor some restrictions on gun ownership.

There is no such gray area in abortion.

And in saying he would sign a heartbeat bill, Putnam just raised the stakes in a campaign that already was assured of contentious and bitter.

Compromise? On this issue?

Forget about it.

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