Adam Putnam Archives - Page 3 of 40 - Florida Politics

Chris King: ‘I want to be the economy candidate’

Chris King wants to convince Florida voters that the state really doesn’t have it so good, that the economy has stagnated for this entire century, and that it’s the Republicans’ fault since they’ve been in charge the whole time.

King, the Winter Park developer who’s seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor of Florida in 2018, offers data charts, tables, and statistical analysis from various U.S. agencies to back up his claims. He weaves them into almost every speech, highlights them at virtually every event.

Those numbers, showing Florida losing ground, dramatically in some cases, to almost every high-population state regarding household income growth, poverty rates, and per-capita gross domestic product, provide the foundation for King’s theme: a Democrat who talks economics and business strategy.

“This was the big ‘Aha!’ for me. That was the decision to run, run now; and that this would be our message; and that I would be the economy candidate in the Democratic Party,” said King, the 39-year-old political novice whose closest friends say has been preparing for politics his whole life.

King sat down last week with FloridaPolitics.com to discuss his economic vision for Florida.

He described a plan based on his view that under the past 19 years of one-party, Republican rule, the state’s growth has progressed little or regressed, especially compared with rival states; and that it’s time to abandon strategies aimed at attracting low-wage businesses. He said his focus would be on investing in long-term strategies to promote higher-paying jobs while at the same time investing in affordable housing and environmental technologies.

“I will be heavily contested on this concept that Florida is a back-of-the-pack state,” King added. “They will fight me hard on this. But the basic suppositions I make is [based] on 15 years of one party rule, from 2000 to 2015 – it’s obviously been longer than that, but that was the period I really studied. And that during that period it is undeniable, based on Florida’s numbers, state numbers, that when we compare to our peers, Florida went backward.”

King’s background with a Harvard University education and a law degree from the University of Florida, and as a businessman, may give him preparation for such a debate. But he is new to public debate.

Unlike his current rivals and most of his potential rivals, King has little real-world experience in government economics, having never been tested with challenges of competing public interests, taxes, and legislative budget fights.

On the Democrats’ side, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has run a city. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has waged public money battles in Congress. On the Republicans’ side, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had run a state department, and before that wrestled with public finances in Congress and the Florida Legislature. Potential candidates include Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, Republican Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, and Republican Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. They likely will relish going after King’s inexperience in public spending and taxing policies as he pushes his economic vision.

Still, King has something most of them do not, save Levine and another potential Democratic candidate, Orlando lawyer John Morgan: a record of high success in running businesses that made him wealthy and created significant equity and jobs.

King spoke of using the governor’s office pulpit and the line-item veto to create a “culture change” in the state’s economic approaches.

“So, Republicans, or our one-party state government, would argue we are growing. And they would point to unemployment numbers being low. They would point to a AAA bond rating, which establishes credit for the state. And a good and healthy rainy-day fund,” King said. “My critique would be: At what cost have those things come? And if those jobs are not paying a wage that a family lives on, or an individual can survive on, isn’t that a problem?”

Point one of his critique: Adjusted for inflation, Florida’s median household income has declined 7 percent from 2000 to 2015, to $49,000, which is well below those of the other four highest-population states, California, Texas, New York, and Illinois, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Point two: Florida’s 2015 per-capita, gross domestic product of $39,000 was virtually unchanged this century, and is at least 27 percent lower than those of California, Texas, New York, and Illinois, which all saw far more growth in GDP this century, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau.

Point three:  Florida’s poverty rate has increased dramatically since 2000, reaching 16.2 percent in 2015, moving it well above the poverty rates in California, New York, Illinois, which saw far-more modest increases in poverty, and in Texas, which saw its poverty rate decline during the same period, according to the Census Bureau.

“We haven’t had a leadership who have wanted to invest in the hard things that create long-term value,” he charged. “For two decades we have been spending huge amounts of time and money to recruit out-of-state, large corporations to open up, not flagship offices, not headquarters, but satellite offices, with low-paying jobs.”

King offered broad ideas he wants to pursue but said his detailed proposals would be rolled out this fall, focusing on three themes: promoting small business, driving down the cost of living, and creating pathway options for children.

Among specific ideas he said he would embrace:

— Addressing access to small-business and start-up capital, particularly for new college-graduate, minority, and military-veteran entrepreneurs, through tax policies, small state business incentives, micro-lenders, and financial institutions.

— Aggressively developing affordable housing, including stopping raids on the affordable housing trust fund, and pushing to invest $250 million to $350 million in state money into public-private matches for affordable housing partnerships, which he said would create nearly $1 billion in housing investments. “It’s a winning formula,” said the affordable housing developer, who added his companies do not accept public money for their projects.

— Investing more in community colleges, trade schools, and access and affordability for four-year universities “I’m going to be a governor who is a big, big fan of our community college system in Florida,” he said.

— Increasing money for university research, especially in already-established, commercially-promising specialties such as the University of Central Florida’s optics science and technology programs.

— Fostering openness to diversity in universities, and that includes foreign students and immigrant faculty and researchers, to attract “the best and the brightest.”

— Accepting Medicaid expansion, if it’s still available.

— Pushing for passage of the Florida Competitive Workplace Act, which he said will signal nationally that the state is welcoming.

— Opening markets and business opportunities for solar energy, which he said the market is moving on already, as evidenced by the high numbers of jobs in such states as Massachusetts. “We should not be just a national leader; we should be an international leader in solar,” he said.

— Promoting technologies, research, insurance products, commerce, development, and planning strategies to address rising sea levels. “It’s scary. The next governor has to be, he or she, somebody, who is not only trying to address these issues, but is trying to build markets, the products, and services of the future, to position Florida to survive this challenge,” King said. “I don’t think of it just as a problem. This is an opportunity for businesses and organizations and our best thinking.”

Gwen Graham has now raised $3 million for 2018 bid

Democrat Gwen Graham announced Sunday that she raised another $350,000 in July for her bid to be Florida’s next governor.

Graham raised $220,000 of that money through her campaign account, with the other $130,000 coming in through her political committee, “Our Florida.”

The former congresswoman ended June with $1.6 million in her committee account and $475,000 on hand in her campaign account, and while the campaign didn’t announce her on-hand total for July, it did note another 2,000 donors chipped in last month for a total of 6,700 unique donors thus far.

The haul keeps her far ahead of Democratic Primary rivals Chris King, a Winter Park businessman, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and her news release announcing the numbers indicates she’s more focused on her Republican competition than the more immediate primary battle.

“This summer has shown why electing a Democratic Governor is vital to our state’s future,” Graham said. “While Donald Trump wages a war against our health care, threatens our citrus industry, and moves forward with drilling off our beaches, Rick Scott and Adam Putnam refuse to stand up to the president and put Florida first.

“Instead, Adam Putnam has turned to copying the president by attacking the free press,” she added. “It’s a desperate attempt to appeal to the extreme right, and it won’t work. One Donald Trump in our state — even just part time — is more than enough.”

Putnam, the state’s term-limited Agriculture Commissioner, has nearly $12 million on hand. He recently made a hard turn to the right, much to the surprise of many of his moderate Republican supporters, and Graham is seizing the chance to kick him in the shins.

Among his recent displays are imploring his Twitter followers to sign a petition to “stop fake news on CNN” and declaring himself a “proud NRA sellout,” despite criticism from others in his party that his advocacy has been non-existent for most gun bills debated in the legislature during his time as Ag. Commissioner.

So far, Putnam is the only major GOP candidate to enter the race, though he could be joined by Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala of Clearwater as soon as next week.

Both have millions on hand in their political committees, as does House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who will decide whether to throw his hat into the ring after the 2018 legislative session.

Graham’s fundraising announcement came shortly after King’s campaign said it added $154,000 in July. Those numbers bring the businessman up to $2.4 million raised since he entered the race in April, with $1.7 million of that total on hand between his campaign account and his political committee, “Rise and Lead, Florida.”

Gillum, who had raised a total of $1.3 million between his campaign and “Forward Florida” committee through the end of June, hasn’t reported his July numbers yet, though the unofficial tally for Forward Florida on the committee’s website show just one contribution for $10,000 in July.

Andrew Gillum campaign spends $25,000 on legal fees, mostly for email investigation

Tallahassee’s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum has spent almost $25,000 so far on attorneys during his gubernatorial campaign, mostly due to his use of state-owned email software for campaign-related messages.

Law firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler got about $2,100 of that money from the Gillum campaign, with the remaining money being paid out through his political committee, “Florida Forward.”

The most recent payment was a $1,015 check from Florida Forward on July 28.

Gillum’s spending on legal fees was first written about by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida.

Campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan said the high legal fees were linked to Gillum’s use of state software purchased through the Tallahassee mayor’s office to send political emails. Since the improper use was outed earlier this year, Gillum has apologized and paid back the city for the software.

State Attorney Jack Campbell has not yet decided whether he will criminally charge Gillum for the software malfeasance.

Burgan also made clear that none of the fees paid out by Gillum’s campaign account or political committee were linked to an ongoing public corruption investigation the FBI is conducting on several Tallahassee business and political leaders.

The FBI is looking into several big-name developers and consultants connected to a Community Redevelopment Agency. In June, the Bureau subpoenaed several individuals, but Gillum’s name was not on the list.

Gillum’s attorney fees come in much higher than either of his Democratic rivals, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Winter Park Businessman Chris King, each of whom spent roughly $15,000 on attorney fees since entering the race.

Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam, the lone major Republican candidate in the race, has spent about $9,000 on attorney fees this campaign cycle.

Adam Putnam campaign banks another $1.3 million in July

Between his campaign and committee, Adam Putnam’s gubernatorial bid is now approaching $17 million in total fundraising, including nearly $1.3 million banked in July.

“The finance operation continues to gain strength, with nearly $17 million in contributions to support Adam Putnam for Governor. But, more importantly, our grassroots momentum is gaining speed,” campaign spokeswoman Amanda Bevis announced Thursday. “Floridians are passionate about Adam Putnam’s willingness to fight for our freedoms and his ability to bring common sense, business smarts to our state’s capital.”

The two-term Agriculture Commissioner ended June with just under $15.7 million in total fundraising, and about $11.6 million on hand between his committee, “Florida Grown,” and his campaign. Bevis said Putnam added $1.299 million between the two accounts in July to finish the month with $16.98 million in total fundraising and $12.3 million in the bank.

Also noted was the fact that more than 5,000 donors had chipped in since the campaign started, with about 4,000 of those being small-dollar donors, defined as giving $500 or less.

Neither fundraising report is available on the Florida Division of Elections website, though the figures provided by the campaign indicate Putnam spent more than $600,000 last month.

The campaign also touted a trip to Kennedy Space Center with Vice President Mike Pence and stops at fire houses and Republican barbecues last month. The campaign also beat Putnam’s recently acquired “NRA sell out” drum, complete with mention of a clay shoot and picture of him gun-in-hand.

Putnam is currently the only major GOP candidate running for governor, though Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala and House Speaker Richard Corcoran each mulling a run.

Latvala has $3.84 million on hand in his political committee, “Florida Leadership Fund,” while Corcoran recently announced hitting nearly $3 million in total fundraising since starting his committee, “Watchdog PAC,” in May.

Latvala will announce whether he will run Aug. 16 at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, while Corcoran will wait to announce until after the 2018 legislative session.

Andrew Gillum calls Adam Putnam ‘recent convert’ to gun rights movement

Following the Tampa Bay Times story questioning Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam‘s past visibility on gun rights issues, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is calling him “a recent convert” and questioning his commitments on details.

“Now that people have started to catch on that Commissioner Adam Putnam’s a recent convert to the gun rights movement, we should ask him how he really feels,” the Tallahassee mayor asked about the state agriculture commissioner.

Gillum is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2018 election, facing Winter Park developer Chris King and Tallahassee former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham.

In the past couple of weeks, Putnam has turned up the heat on his rhetoric about guns, making his support of the gun rights movement as much of a focal point of his campaign as virtually any other issue to date. On July 18 he declared he saw a pathway to open-carry of guns in Florida, and to guns on college campuses, and later declared himself proud to be an “NRA sell-out.”

But Monday, the Times published an article in which several gun rights advocates essentially asked of Putnam, “Where have you been?” reporting that several times earlier this year when asked about gun issues he deferred or offered noncommittal responses.

So, Gillum asked in a news release issued by his campaign, what doe she think?

“Does he really think it’s a good idea for our college students to carry weapons on campuses? Does he support an assault weapons ban and closing gun show loopholes?” Gillum asked.

“I know where I stand: against campus carry, for an assault weapons ban, and for closing gun show loopholes. I’ve proudly stood up to the NRA and the gun lobby to make sure we protect Florida’s families, and I hope Commissioner Putnam says the same thing.”

Adam Putnam calls on Air Force to bring F-35 squadron to Jacksonville

Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam said Thursday that he wrote a letter in support of the Florida National Guard’s efforts to bring the F-35 Lightning II to Jacksonville.

“For 70 years, the 125th Fighter Wing has served Florida and our country well. With Jacksonville’s unparalleled airspace and infrastructure, no other place in the nation is better suited for a new squadron of F-35 fighters,” Putnam wrote in the letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

“As you continue to evaluate bases for the F-35, I am confident that Jacksonville will continue to rise above the rest and if the past is prologue, then the F-35 will prove to be a success in the hands of the 125th,” he added.

Jacksonville is one of a handful of finalists to house the squadron alongside bases in Idaho, Wisconsin, Alabama in Michigan, and Florida politicians have been lobbying hard to bring the fifth generation fighter to the Sunshine State.

Putnam’s plea joins the entire Florida Congressional Delegation, who banded together in May to ask Wilson to base the new jets out of Jax. During her tenure as a congresswoman, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham also urged officials to pick Jacksonville.

State senators, spearheaded by Jacksonville Democratic Sen. Audrey Gibson, also passed a resolution in March supporting the Florida Air National Guard’s mission to bring the squadron to Jacksonville.

The economic impact of bringing the Lockheed Martin jet to the First Coast is estimated to be at least $100 million, and if Jacksonville is picked it could help stave off job losses when the military eventually phases out the F-15 Eagles currently based out of Jacksonville International Airport.

Jacksonville currently has about 1,000 full-time active air members and officials say adding the F-35 would bring around 200 more jobs to the area.

Unanimous pick: Associated Builders and Contractors endorse Adam Putnam for Governor

The GOP Primary field for Florida Governor may not be set, but the Associated Builders and Contractors announced a major endorsement Thursday evening for Adam Putnam.

The endorsement: a unanimous vote of the ABC Board.

Mary Tappouni, State Chair of ABC of Florida, lauded Putnam’s “conservative values and free market approach” in a press release from Team Putnam.

Tappouni also noted Putnam’s commitment to workforce development, saying he will “work to ensure we have a well-trained workforce that can support our growing economy.  As the largest single provider of Apprenticeship Training in the state, acknowledging our skilled worker shortage is of critical importance to our association.”

Putnam’s statement abounded with soaring rhetorical flourish, incorporating Putnam’s campaign leit motif that Florida can be the “launch pad for the American Dream.”

“These businesses, from the largest corporations headquartered in Florida to the smallest service contractor just starting out, are proof that Florida can be the launch pad for the American Dream. They’ve built the institutions of our state, shaped our skylines and provided stable, well-paying jobs to tens of thousands of Floridians. I’m proud to have ABC of Florida on my team in this race for Governor,” said Putnam.

“I want every Floridian to have the same opportunity to find their version of the American Dream right here in Florida,” Putnam added.

The question now: how many other major endorsements will be delivered before the field gets more crowded?

Democrat Andrew Learned staffs up ahead of Dennis Ross challenge

Andrew Learned, the 30-year-old Navy veteran from Bloomingdale seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, announced Wednesday the addition of several new staff members.

However, the biggest news is that Learned signed on with Blue Ticket Consulting, the St. Petersburg based Democratic firm led by Tom Alte. Blue Ticket had been behind several successful Tampa Bay-area campaigns last year.

“Bringing Tom and his team on board with us is a huge win in helping continue to lead the Democratic effort to gather the resources we’ll need to flip what we know is the closest swing district in the Tampa Bay region,” Learned said in a statement.

Calling the CD 15 seat the “closest swing district” in the region’s congressional politics may not be that much of a stretch, but the fact remains that no Democrat has been remotely competitive there for years, certainly not since GOP incumbent Dennis Ross won the seat after it was vacated by Adam Putnam in 2010.

Alte had been working as campaign finance fundraising director for Greg Pilkington, another Democrat in the race.

The Learned campaign also announced Rosalind Moffett will serve as campaign manager; Tristan Pike is campaign coordinator; Ashley Motley will serve as creative and social media director.

Moffett worked on congressional campaigns in the district for Doug Tudor, a Democrat who lost to Putnam in 2008 and fellow Democrat Lori Edwards in 2010.

“I am excited to have so quickly grown our grassroots campaign to now be able to field the most talented and experienced campaign team in the region,” Learned said. “It is a testament to the energy and resolve to bring a new generation of leadership to Washington.”

Five Democrats are running for the chance to challenge Ross next year: Learned, Pilkington, Cameron Magnuson, Ray Pena and Greg Williams.

Jack Latvala has added $225,000 of committee cash so far in July

Possible gubernatorial candidate and Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala has brought in plenty of cash this month, according to a ledger of contributions available on his committee’s website.

The Senate Appropriations Chair has raised $225,000 so far in July through his political committee, “Florida Leadership Committee,” with the single largest contribution clocking in at $50,000 from Destin-based Sterling Diversified, LLC.

Donors at the $25,000 level included The Vestcor Companies and the FTBA Transportation PAC, while another seven groups chipped in $10,000 a piece.

The unofficial tally, which runs through July 20, also shows just shy of $60,000 in expenditures this month.

The top costs for FLC were a $10,000 payment to the Whitson Group for research, $8,300 to Champion Consultants for strategy consulting and $6,400 for event tickets through Orlando Event Center Enterprises.

FLC finished June with about $3.55 million on hand according to its most recent finance report, and through the first three weeks of July that total has grown to about $3.7 million.

The next deadline for finance reports, covering all of July, is Aug. 10.

Latvala said earlier this month that he would formally announce whether he is running for governor on Aug. 16.

If he put his hat in the ring, one of his Republican Primary opponents would be Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who has more than $10 million socked away in his own committee, “Florida Grown.”

Richard Corcoran proud of Trump’s efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants

House Speaker Richard Corcoran is proud to hear the Trump administration is escalating crack down on undocumented immigrants is only going to crank up in the coming months, and he says the Legislature will attempt to do their part in 2018.

The Pasco County Republican, still very much contemplating a run for governor next year, issued a statement on Friday in response to comments made earlier this week by Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who said that illegal border crossings have dropped by almost 70 percent this year, allowing ICE agents to now target the more than 300-plus sanctuary cities and counties that have ignored ICE requests that they detail criminal undocumented immigrants for ICE arrest and deportation proceedings.

“The idea that a city decides what laws it will follow and what laws it will ignore should offend every American,” Corcoran said. “Politicians who believe they are above the law by adopting ‘sanctuary’ policies are violating their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.”

Corcoran notes that the Florida House passed Groveland Republican Larry Metz‘ “Rule of Law Adherence Act in the past legislative session. That bill would have required state and local governments and law enforcement agencies to assist and cooperate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. It died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Testifying before Congress last month, Homan said that no illegal immigrant is safe from deportation, though the administration is prioritizing criminals, fugitives, threats to national security and those who illegally re-entered the U.S.

He went on to say that arresting any undocumented person is a good thing: “Most of the criminal aliens we find in the interior United States, they entered as a noncriminal. If we wait for them to violate yet another law against the citizens of this country, it’s late. We shouldn’t wait.”

Standing up against illegal immigration is popular among Republicans, especially those who vote in primary elections. If he were to enter the GOP gubernatorial primary for governor next year, it’s clear that Corcoran would take a tougher stance on the issue that either Adam Putnam or Jack Latvala, who was one of 21 co-sponsors of a sponsored a measure several years ago to offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons