Adam Putnam Archives - Page 2 of 29 - Florida Politics

JD Alexander not running for Ag. Commish, will back Denise Grimsley

Not only is JD Alexander not running for Commissioner of Agriculture, he’s thrown his support behind state Sen. Denise Grimsley‘s bid for the office.

Alexander, who was term limited out of the Florida Senate in 2012, is even hosting a “fundraising reception” for Grimsley at his Lake Wales home.

The longtime lawmaker who spearheaded the creation of Florida Polytechnic University had been the subject of rumors that industry heads were pushing him to consider running for the statewide office.

“I have been honored by several calls from agriculture leaders, but I am very happy spending time with my family and business associates,” said Alexander, who served as Senate budget chair.

Grimsley, a Sebring Republican elected to the House in 2004 and the Senate in 2012, filed to run for Agriculture Commissioner on Feb. 1.

She is currently a hospital administrator for Florida Hospital Wauchula and Lake Placid. As a registered nurse, Grimsley has been certified in trauma and pediatric advanced life support.

She also served as vice president and chief operating officer of her family business, Grimsley Oil Company, as well as being involved in the citrus and ranching industry. She’s a member of the Peace River Valley and Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

The current agriculture commissioner, Republican Adam Putnam, is term limited in 2018 and is expected to run for governor. Denise Grimsley

Paul Paulson seeds state Ag Commissioner campaign with $120K

Orlando businessman and former lawyer Paul Paulson has seeded his campaign to run for Florida Agriculture Commissioner in 2018 with a $120,000 personal loan.

Paulson, a state committeeman with the Orange County Republican Party and 2015 candidate for Orlando mayor, entered the agriculture commissioner race in late December, seeking to succeed fellow Republican Adam Putnam, who is term-limited out at the end of 2018.

Republican state Sen. Denise Grimsley of Lake Placid also has entered the race.

New campaign finance reports posted by the Florida Division of Elections show he lent his campaign $120,000 in January. He also spent $32,000, with $18,000 of that going to BEAG Inc. political consulting in Maryland and the rest to J.M. Design of Winter Garden for printing. He did not report raising any other money.

However, Paulson said he has hired a fundraiser and is using his personal money to get the infrastructure set up for a statewide campaign.

“I don’t mind putting my money where my mouth is,” Paulson said.

Grimsley raised $40,700 through the end of January, with about half of that transferred in from her last Senate campaign fund, and the rest coming from scores of donors. She’s spent about $36,000, on a variety of items.

Paulson, whose business is mostly in real estate, lost the 2015 mayoral election to incumbent Mayor Buddy Dyer by 30 points. Still, he’s remained a fixture around the City Beautiful, as a director of the Orlando Marathon, administrator of the Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation, and organizer in various veterans’ groups. He is a former Army combat infantry officer.

Paulson, who grew up on a cattle farm in Minnesota, is a member of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, raises cattle in east Orange County, and has a citrus farm in Lake County.

More bad news as Florida orange crop drops again

Florida’s grapefruit crop held steady at nine million boxes, but its orange crop went down slightly, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s February forecast.

Thursday’s report projects a one million box reduction in the state’s orange crop to 70 million boxes. That’s after last month’s forecast also predicted a decrease. 

“Today’s forecast reflects a true utilization of early, mid-season, and Navel varieties,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, in a statement.

“We hope for higher numbers of Valencia production as we continue through the second half of the season.”

The state’s citrus industry has been hobbled by a citrus greening epidemic. The so-far incurable disease is attacking fruit, causing it to turn green and bitter, and eventually killing the tree.

Florida’s famous oranges are most at risk.

Last month, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam noted that “production of our state’s signature crop is down 70 percent from 20 years ago.”

“The future of Florida citrus, and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports, depends on a long-term solution in the fight against greening,” he said in a statement.

 

 

Francis Rooney says he’s not considering 2018 gubernatorial bid

Rep. Francis Rooney dismissed rumors he is considering gubernatorial bid, saying he is focused on “being the best congressman” he can be for Southwest Florida.

Rooney, a freshman congressman and the former ambassador to the Holy See, said he was not considering a run for governor in 2018.

“I am considering one thing — being the best congressman I can be for Southwest Florida,” he said. “I’m thankful to have the opportunity to represent Southwest Florida, and I’m not intending to do anything else other than do the best possible job I can.”

Rooney replaced Rep. Curt Clawson in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. The Naples Republican was backed by Gov. Rick Scott, who endorsed Rooney during the primary.

Scott has made no secret that he’d like to see another businessman in the Governor’s Mansion, and is believed to have approached Rooney about throwing his hat in the race. The two men are friends, and live just a few minutes away from each other in the same Naples community.

“The example of Gov. Scott and another businessperson in politics, Vern Buchanan, is part of what inspired me to run for this,” said Rooney. “I think we need business people in the government. I think if you look at the good they’ve been able to do with their experience and their track record with their decisions and things, it’s been very positive.”

But Rooney says he’s not interested in running for governor, saying he’s has “said it a lot, no way.”

“I’m sure there’s a lot of good business people that would make excellent governors in Florida, and congressmen and senators as well,” he said. “I just want to be the best congressman I can be.”

The race to replace Scott, who can’t run for re-election because of term limits, is expected to be a crowded one. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is widely expected to run, while House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Sen. Jack Latvala are believed to be considering their options.

 

Politics, food and fun: Florida State Fair kicks off

With a mix of old and new, the annual Florida State Fair kicks off Thursday.

In addition to obligatory references to artery-clogging fair fare by local reporters (Deep-fried butter! Spaghetti Ice Cream!), Opening Day of the Fair is the setting for the yearly Governors Day Luncheon, where every man and women in Hillsborough County who is even thinking of running for office in 2018 already have their ticket.

All Cabinet members are expected to appear, with Gov. Rick Scott scheduled to give the keynote speech, as will Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, already considered to be looking ahead to succeeding Scott in the governor’s mansion in 2018.

For the second consecutive year, there will be no formal Cabinet meeting, formerly part and parcel of activities of the Fair’s first day.

Last year, the meeting was canceled outright because of a lack of urgent business with state agencies.

The last time the Cabinet did meet at the Fair was in February 2015, with plenty of drama as it was the first time that Scott had to answer to Putnam, Pam Bondi and Jeff Atwater over the ousting of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

After a one-year absence, what has returned this year is a new super slide; in the past, both Putnam and Bondi have slid down in a post-luncheon tradition/photo-op.

Originally called “The Super Bowl Toboggan,” the mega slide was first unveiled in Times Square in the lead up to the 2014 Super Bowl. The Italian-made slide is 60 feet tall and 180 feet long and contains an LED package that gives off a light show at night.

Adam Putnam to business leaders: ‘Florida has come too far to turn back now’

Each month, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam looks at the list of top job openings the governor gives him. And each month, the top jobs remains same.

Nursing is usually at the top of the list, tractor-trailer drivers aren’t far behind. And their constant presence at the top of the list tells Putnam this: The state needs to invest in workforce development.

“If you look at all the job vacancies, frequently those vacancies don’t necessarily require a four-year degree,” said Putnam, after brief remarks at Gov. Rick Scott’s 2017 Jobs Summit. “If we want to have manufacturing in the state, that’s industry certifications and trades and training that does not require a university experience. They’re both important, but universities get all the glory.”

Putnam was one of several speakers during the first day of the two-day conference, aimed at bringing business and community leaders together to discuss economic and business development.

While much of the day focused on tax cuts, economic incentives and the need for tourism marketing dollars, Putnam’s remarks focused largely on the importance of keeping talent in Florida.

“We need an education system that prepares a workforce for both STEM degrees and the trades; careers that allow (students) to find their piece of the American dream in Florida,” said Putnam, a likely 2018 gubernatorial candidate. “So the kids that grow up in the Glades, the Suwannee Valley or Northwest Florida don’t need to leave the town they love to find the job they need to feed their families.”

But that means convincing people that workforce education plays an important role in Florida’s future. Putnam said that takes leadership, and said it can be done by focusing on opportunities and wages.

“We create our own luck in business,” he said. “Florida has come too far to turn back now.”

Denise Grimsley running for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018

Denise Grimsley has made it official, announcing she filed to run for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018.

Grimsley, who told FloridaPolitics.com in January she was eyeing a run, filed her statement of candidacy with the Division of Elections. She is vying to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who can’t run again because of term limits.

“Florida has many challenges in our agriculture industry, yet we have so many more exciting opportunities,” she said in a statement. “We will continue to fight for a smart statewide water policy, we will protect our environment and blessed Florida resources, and we will pursue expansion of the over two million jobs Florida agriculture provides our state. I offer my broad life experience and an optimistic vision to achieve so much for our state.”

A fifth generation Floridian, Grimsley was first elected to the Florida House in 2004, where she served until 2012. Grimsley was elected to the Florida Senate in 2012. She ran unopposed in 2016 and easily won re-election. She served as the Senate’s deputy Majority Leader from 2014-16.

Grimsley served as vice president and chief operating officer of her family business, Grimsley Oil Company. She’s also been involved in the citrus and ranching industry, and is a member of the Peace River Valley and Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

A registered nurse, Grimsley has been certified in trauma and pediatric advanced life support. She is currently a hospital administrator for Florida Hospital Wauchula and Lake Placid.

“We are the sum of our experiences, and I offer my candidacy to continue the principles of conservative public service I have followed in my career, both in the private sector and in the Florida Legislature,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “Serving on the Cabinet as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services would be a tremendous honor, and I look forward to earning our Republican Party’s nomination and competing for the general election in November 2018.”

While much of the 2018 chatter has been about the governor’s race, attention turned to the race to replace Putnam in recent weeks after former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced he would not run for the office in two years.

Crisafulli, with his deep roots in the state’s agriculture community, was considered a frontrunner to win the Republican nomination.

Grimsley isn’t the only one vying for the spot. Republican Paul Paulson has already filed to run, and Rep. Matt Caldwell and Sen. Greg Steube are both considering a run.

Adam Putnam agrees: Business experience essential for governor’s job

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam agrees with Gov. Rick Scott that Florida’s next governor should have “business experience.”

“I think someone having business experience that they bring to public life is very helpful,” said Putnam, who spoke to reporters after a speech at Tuesday’s Associated Press annual Legislative Session planning session at the Capitol.

In a recent interview, Scott – who is term limited in 2018 – said the next governor needs to have experience in the business world.

Some took that as a slight to Putnam, long rumored to be eyeing a run for governor in 2018.

The 42-year-old Republican was first elected state agriculture commissioner in 2010 after serving 10 years in Congress. The Putnam family owns Putnam Groves in Bartow.

“As a guy who is part of a small business, I get it,” he said. “You have a better feel for what regulations mean, what the paperwork translates to, and things that often sound like a good idea in Tallahassee, by the time they get to Main Street businesses, they’re a hot mess. It’s helpful to know what it means to create jobs in this state.”

Putnam’s political committee, Florida Grown, has raised funds at an impressive clip, logging nearly $6.8 million in contributions since March 2015, state records show.

This January, it collected $392,500, including a $250,000 contribution from Florida Power & Light, according to its website. It now has cash on hand of almost $4.5 million.

Though Putnam Tuesday continued to decline comment on his future political plans, the latter part of his remarks at the AP event veered into ‘stump speech’ territory, mentioning how the state needs to bolster workforce development, education and rural economic development.

Above being a retirement destination, Florida “needs to be the kind of place that attracts people four decades sooner,” he said, “so that they raise their families here, and they start their businesses here and grow those businesses here, because that’s a very different emotional investment for the long-term good of Florida.”

That sounds strikingly familiar to remarks he made at his political committee’s “Friends of Florida Agriculture Barbecue” in April at Peace River Valley Ranch in Zolfo Springs.

“I want Florida to be the place where people come as a young person, graduate from our universities, raise their families here — start, build and grow their businesses here, so that they are passionately, emotionally invested in the long-term good of Florida, where Florida’s going, how Florida got to be what it is, and what makes Florida special,” Putnam said at that event.

Personnel note: Clay Hollis, Andrew Liebert join Department of Agriculture

Clay Hollis

Clay Hollis and Andrew Liebert are joining the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced Thursday that Hollis would serve as the director of external affairs, while Liebert will serve as the deputy legislative affairs director.

“Clay and Andrew are both great additions to our team, and their professional experience will make them tremendous assets as we fulfill our mission and serve Floridians,” said Putnam in a statement.

Andrew Liebert

Hollis has served in U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney’s office since 2012, where he served as a senior legislative assistant focused on agriculture, transportation and energy policy since 2014. In 2011, he was an intern for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and later interned for the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

While Hollis has spent a substantial amount of time in Washington, D.C., Liebert has spent much of his career in Tallahassee. He has served as a legislative aide in the Florida House for the past four years, most recently for Rep. Ben Albritton, the chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

Broward homeowners demand state pay for felled citrus trees

Attorneys representing Broward County homeowners are demanding the state pay a $20 million judgment for tearing down healthy citrus trees in a failed attempt to eradicate citrus canker.

The legal battle could set a precedent that might spread to four other counties and increase the final bill to $200 million.

The attorneys filed a motion Monday asking a state judge to order the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Commissioner Adam Putnam pay the 70,000 homeowners for their lost trees and their legal fees. About $15 million would go to the homeowners and $5 million to the attorneys.

“It’s time to hold Commissioner Putnam and the department accountable for their continuing disregard of the homeowners’ constitutional rights,” lead attorney Robert C. Gilbert said.

Agriculture department spokesman Aaron Keller said the money cannot be paid without the Legislature’s approval, which it hasn’t given. He said the tree removal program would have stopped the spread of canker if a judge hadn’t stopped it three times, giving the disease an opportunity to spread.

Canker is a bacterial disease that blemishes a tree’s fruit and can cause it to drop prematurely, although fruit that ripens can still be squeezed for juice — the primary use of Florida’s commercial citrus crop. After a 53-year lull, canker reappeared in Florida in 1986 and was spread by the wind.

A last-ditch attempt to protect Florida’s $9 billion dollar citrus industry from widespread contamination began in 2000, as the state ordered the destruction of even healthy citrus trees within 1,900 feet of an infected tree with or without the owner’s permission. More than 16 million trees were destroyed statewide during the six-year program, including 865,000 residential trees, before a series of hurricanes spread canker too widely to be eradicated.

For compensation, the state gave each homeowner a $100 Wal-Mart gift card for the first tree killed and $55 cash for each subsequent tree, but thousands complained their trees were worth much more.

Class-action lawsuits were filed and courts agreed, ruling the average tree was worth more than $400. Judges ordered homeowners in Broward, Lee, Orange and Palm Beach counties to be fully compensated. Those rulings total about $100 million and a Miami-Dade County case that remains open could double that.

The state has refused to pay, however, saying that under Florida law, the Legislature must authorize the payments. The Broward homeowners’ attorneys petitioned the Legislature unsuccessfully during its 2014 session.

In Monday’s filing, the attorneys argue that the U.S. and Florida constitutions prohibit the government from taking private property without fair compensation and that the state can’t avoid payment even if the Legislature doesn’t approve. They want the state law declared unconstitutional.

Regardless of what the Broward court decides, Gilbert expects the case to reach the Florida Supreme Court.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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