Adam Putnam Archives - Page 4 of 53 - Florida Politics

GOP primary for Governor likely to be conservative vs. establishment matchup

While the Democratic field for Governor continues to swell, we’re seeing just the opposite happen on the Republican side. What was once a large crop of prospective candidates, has now boiled down to the classic “establishment” versus “conservative” matchup.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has long been the GOP favorite for 2018. He has put together exactly the kind of campaign that we all expected, raising impressive sums of money each month and putting together a veteran team of DC-based consultants.

Putnam, who announced his campaign nearly 18 months before the election, is leaning on his extensive political experience and disciplined campaigning to outlast and outwork any potential opponents.

On the other side of this coin are the conservatives: House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. Both potential candidates share a principled-conservative philosophy, and they both would bring a background that would resonate with today’s conservative grassroots.

Now, if you watch Fox News, you’ve probably seen DeSantis — he has become a frequent guest. However, you’d think several weekly appearances on the most-watched channel of Republican primary voters would put DeSantis on their radar. It hasn’t. A recent poll from St. Leo University shows DeSantis bunched up with Corcoran in the low single digits. And if he were to get in the race, he would not be able to benefit from additional free media attention.

For either candidate to gain ground on Putnam, they’ll need to put together a serious statewide operation and raise real money. And while Corcoran has raised $5.5 million in six months, DeSantis has only been able to pocket $1.8, coming mostly from a small handful of six-figure donors.

So, when it comes to fundraising, DeSantis has yet to show any signs that he can put together a viable statewide campaign. For those whom may have forgotten, DeSantis ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016, but like what’s unfolding today, he struggled to raise money, and his campaign never got off the ground.

Now, maybe it’s possible that President Donald Trump will get into a contested primary six (or seven) months before the election, backing an unproven candidate. Maybe that endorsement will bring in a few more big checks.

And then, maybe, DeSantis will be able to put together a serious campaign.

But after four or five postponed announcements for Governor, those “maybes” keep getting less and less likely. It’s hard to see a scenario where DeSantis pulls the trigger — and even if he did, it’s hard to see it ending up much differently than his failed 2016 Senate campaign. Of course, he may call an audible and jump instead into the Attorney General race, where he would be much more competitive.

Corcoran, on the other hand, has quietly built a formidable political operation. He is widely regarded as Tallahassee’s most disruptive legislator and one of the most consequential Republican Speakers of the House.

Of course, in some circles that’s praise; in others — mainly inside the Tallahassee bubble — he is an enemy of the state. He has picked a fight with every political heavyweight and special interest, ruffling a lot of feathers of the Republican donor class.

And even though he says he won’t decide until after the 2018 Legislative Session, which ends in March, his political committee, Watchdog PAC, has all the makings of a serious statewide campaign.

On top of the overall fundraising, Corcoran pulled in $752,000 in November. A number that outpaced Putnam’s PC’s $616,000, and was double that of DeSantis’ $380,000.

Finally, Corcoran’s political committee has attracted top political consultants, including Trump and Gov. Rick Scott’s pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s media consultants, Jamestown Associates, and has also begun staffing the organization with high caliber campaign operatives.

Right now, all signs point to a classic Republican primary duel brewing between the polished and well-established campaign of Putnam versus the disruptive, conservative insurgent in Corcoran. And while DeSantis may still get mentioned as a potential candidate, it’s merely a formality — because that duck won’t be quacking.

Show ’em the money? Campaign financing repeal yanked by sponsor

A proposal to repeal Florida’s system of public financing for statewide campaigns won’t make it into the state constitution, at least for now.

Kruppenbacher

Frank Kruppenbacher, the proposed amendment’s sponsor, withdrew it from consideration at Wednesday’s meeting of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s Ethics and Election committee.

That was after representatives of progressive groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, uniformly opposed the idea (P 56).

But Kruppenbacher, a CRC appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, said he instead intends to press lawmakers to think about reforming the system this year. (See update below.) The state spent over $4.3 million in the 2014 election cycle financing campaigns, according to records.

“I see the election process as having been co-opted by money to the point where the public has been disinterested and not paying attention to campaigns,” said Kruppenbacher, an attorney with the statewide Morgan & Morgan law firm, in an interview.

“Look at Washington, look at Congress, and how broken it is,” Kruppenbacher added. “But everybody keeps getting re-elected. Nobody can campaign against (the incumbents).”

But the Legislature itself placed a similar amendment on the ballot for statewide approval in 2010. It flunked at the polls with 52 percent approval; amendments need 60 percent for adoption.

“I guess I just question strategically why to put this before voters” since they already rejected it, Integrity Florida’s Ben Wilcox told the panel.

House Speaker and presumptive Republican candidate for governor Richard Corcoran, however, has said he wants public campaign financing to end, calling it “welfare for politicians.”

Now, public dollars are available to candidates for governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and chief financial officer, though the money comes with some provisos.

The funds come out of the state’s general revenue, but there had been a “Election Campaign Financing Trust Fund” that was shut down in 1996.

Past statewide candidates that have taken public financing include Agriculture Commissioner and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam, who took $587,000 for his 2010 election and another $459,000 during his 2014 re-election.

Attorney General Pam Bondi took $432,000 in 2010 and $328,000 in 2014. Gov. Rick Scott took no public dollars to fund his 2010 or 2014 campaigns, records show.

During the meeting, Kruppenbacher told the panel, “We’re funding people who are already highly funded … I’d rather see (the money) go to school children.”

Update: GOP state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola, a candidate for attorney general, filed legislation later on Wednesday to repeal provisions in state law and the state constitution on “public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office.”

Andrew Gillum continues to lie, err, exaggerate about campaign size

Will Andrew Gillum ever learn?

Despite a PolitiFact ruling six months ago that showed the Tallahassee Mayor’s campaign lied about the number of its supporters, Gillum and his staff are continuing to mislead voters and the press about the size of this fledgling operation.

On June 9, the Gillum for Governor campaign said: “We’re excited to have more than 7,000 contributors, the most in the race, and we’re raising the resources to compete in all 67 counties.”

“Mostly false,” PolitiFact ruled the following week.

Yet, last week, speaking at Cafe Con Tampa, Gillum reportedly said: “I want you to know that we’ve got over 11 thousand — last I counted — individual contributors.”

And last month, Gillum campaign representative Geoff Burgan told a reporter, “We’ve got more than 11,000 online donors …”

Neither claim is true.

According to the latest public fundraising reports, posted yesterday, Gillum actually has less than 8,500 unique donors between his campaign account and political committee — placing him well behind Adam Putnam and Gwen Graham, who each have more than 10,000 supporters.

The once-rising star Gillum exaggerated the number of supporters while speaking to the audience about the viability of his campaign. The campaign has been in the red for the past seventh months — and had its worst month ever in November, raising only $52,475 and spending more than $100,000.

In addition to having more supporters, Graham — with significant name recognition — also enjoys a seven-point lead over Gillum, as shown by the latest polling from Associated Industries of Florida: Graham with 24 percent, Gillum at 17 percent.

And now Gillum has less than $500,000 between his campaign and political committee; if the current trend continues, it’s difficult to see how the candidate survives until Election Day.

And it’s even harder to see how he wins, especially with made up supporters on the campaign trail.

Email insights: Gwen Graham’s bold claim — more supporters than any Gov. candidate

In the race for Florida Governor, if anything, Gwen Graham is audacious.

As well as announcing a “strong fundraising streak” through November, a new email from the Democratic hopeful makes a bold declaration — her campaign “has more supporters” than any other candidate in the race, either Democratic or Republican.

That’s quite a statement for a Democrat in a state controlled by Republicans for the past 20 years.

“While [Republicans] Adam Putnam and Richard Corcoran continue to fill their campaigns with special interests’ donations, we are taking on Tallahassee’s self-serving politicians and building a grassroots campaign to put real Floridians back in charge of our state,” Graham said.

Graham is backing up her self-assurance with some solid numbers — more than $300,000 raised for eight consecutive months, bringing in more than $240,000 in her campaign account, as well as more than $100,000 for her political committee “Our Florida” — totaling more than $350,000 in November.

In her bid for Governor, the former North Florida congresswoman now has raised more than $4.36 million dollars, as with about $2.78 million on hand.

While those numbers are impressive, what about the statement of “more supporters than anyone else?”

Good question; Graham added more than 1,400 new grassroots donors in just the last month, meaning she now has more than 11,500 unique supporters — more people than any other candidate in the race.

According to Matt Harringer, Graham’s communications director, the numbers of supporters are solid — using state records —  and speak for themselves. Among Democrats, Philip Levine has 604; Andrew Gillum, 8,451 and Chris King, 1674. As for Republicans, Jack Latvala has 2681; Putnam, 10,133 and Corcoran, 569.

It is this metric that Graham’s campaign says will become the strong foundation to take the ultimate challenge in Florida — facing a Republican in the general election.

Graham takes a parting shot at “Tallahassee Republicans” who are preparing for the upcoming 2018 Legislative Session the same way they have for more than two decades — holding committee week fundraisers with lobbyists.

“While they’re partying in Tallahassee,” Graham says her campaign “traveling the state building support from real Floridians and talking about the issues that matter to them.’

This leads to her boldest statement of all — that she “will take back the governor’s office and set Florida on a brighter path forward.”

While it’s too early to tell how the Governor’s race will ultimately pan out, there’s little doubt Graham has an abundance of confidence in both herself and her campaign.

We’ll see if that’s enough.

November fundraising boosts Adam Putnam to $15.35M on hand

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has more than $15 million on hand for his gubernatorial bid after bringing in nearly $1 million last month between his campaign and committee accounts.

Putnam brought in $267,070 through his campaign account and another $704,550 through his committee, Florida Grown, for a total of $971,620 raised in November.

The Republican’s largest single donor last month was from “Floridian’s United for Our Children’s Future.” The committee, chaired by Ryan Tyson, cut a $100,000 check. Following that were five checks for $50,000, including one from Publix and another from University of Florida trustee and businessman James Heavener.

Florida Jobs PAC, Herzog Contracting and PepsiCo chipped in at the $25,000 level, with a host of additional donors chipping in between $5,000 and $15,000.

Putnam’s campaign money came in through more than 1,000 contributions, including 18 for the election maximum of $3,000.

Publix and Heavener chipped in with max checks to the campaign in addition to their committee contributions. The supermarket chain’s chairman, Howard Jenkins, and his wife Patricia Jenkins also chipped into the campaign account, as did lobbyist Mark Anderson and Tampa entrepreneur Chris Sullivan.

The biggest bills last month came from Forward Strategies, which received $43,430 fo fundraising consulting via Florida Grown, The Tarrance Group which took in $20,704 for surveys, Lockton Affinity, which received a $13,397 payment for insurance, and Direct Mail Systems, which received $11,040 for mailers.

In all, Florida Grown spent $204,714 last month and has $12.83 million on hand, while the campaign account spent $83,730 and has about $2.52 million on hand. Combined, the two accounts add up to $15.35 million on hand.

That total puts Putnam far ahead of all other candidates running for governor, with former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in a distant second place with about $7 million in total fundraising between his campaign and committee accounts.

Putnam’s only major primary challenger so far, Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, has not yet filed his campaign finance report for November, though his committee account saw contributions slow to a halt last month.

Latvala’s fundraising arm, Florida Leadership Committee, finished November with $5,347 in contributions and just under $4 million in the bank. His campaign account had $872,374 on hand at the end of October.

American Bridge takes aim at Adam Putnam

A Democrat-aligned super PAC is taking aim at Adam Putnam with a new website called ProblemPutnam.com.

American Bridge, launched by David Brock in 2010, says it intends on informing Floridians over the next year about what it contends has been Putnam’s priorities in public office since first being elected more than 20 years ago:

“Sweet deals for big business and his own bank accounts, while squarely ignoring the needs and concerns of Florida families.”

Putnam is considered a leading contender to become the next Republican nominee for Governor in 2018. In addition to his prodigious fundraising totals (he has over $15 million cash-on-hand), the only other establishment Republican considered to have any shot at him – Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala – has had his campaign upended by allegations of sexual harassment that could lead to his expulsion from the Legislature.

Two other men considered to be contenders, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, have yet to enter the race.

“Adam Putnam is truly the problem child for Florida Republicans—he’s been cozying up to and making sweet deals on behalf of the lobbyists and donors that keep him in office for decades, all at the expense of Florida families,” American Bridge spokesperson Lizzy Price says.

“Putnam is right in line with Republicans in Congress under the leadership of Donald Trump who give handouts to the rich at the expense of the middle class,” Price adds.

“This will be a long, difficult campaign for Problem Putnam and in the end, Floridians will know that his problems aren’t endearing. They’re dangerous and wrong for Florida.”

The Putnam campaign slammed the site, and American Bridge.

“No surprise to see a super PAC funded by Hollywood liberals George Soros and Michael Moore is terrified to see a strong conservative with a positive vision for our state in the race for Governor,” said Putnam campaign spokeswoman Amanda Bevis. “This website is a poor-quality, Hollywood production that aims to fool voters into reversing the progress our state has made.”

Soros, the billionaire hedge fund manager, has been a major contributor to American Bridge over the years, including $80,000 earlier this year, according to Open Secrets.

Richard Corcoran’s political committee tops $750K in November

House Speaker and likely gubernatorial candidate Richard Corcoran’s political committee had a healthy stint in November, raising $753,700 – the fourth-highest monthly total since the committee’s inception last June.

From law firms and attorneys alone, Watchdog raised $208,000 last month. The Land O’ Lakes Republican’s committee also received a combined $35,000 from Swisher International and Dosal tobacco companies.

Also dumped into the Speaker’s committee: $100,000 from Voice of Florida Business PAC, $95,000 from Citizens Alliance for Florida and $20,000 from Missouri-based Isle of Capri Casinos.

While Corcoran hasn’t announced a bid for the governor’s mansion, his committee’s expenditures reflect spending indicative of a campaign ahead.

Watchdog spent $106,320 in November, nearly $25,000 of which going to Rapid Loop Consulting and almost $15,000 to Jacksonville-based fundraising consultants Political Capital. The committee also paid out more than $30,000 to Go Big Media, which advertises on its site that it delivers “big wins.”

To date, Watchdog has raised $5.4 million and has $4.6 million banked. November spending saw a dip from the two preceding months.

Corcoran’s fundraising numbers are good enough to put him in the fourth-place spot among declared candidates if he throws his name in the mix for governor.

Far out in front is fellow Republican and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who added nearly $1 million in contributions between his campaign and committee accounts in November and has about $15.35 million on hand.

Next in line is former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat, who also raised $1 million in November, putting his total fundraising at around the $7 million mark.

Embroiled Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, the only other major Republican who has declared, has seen his contributions slow to a halt since six women accused of sexual harassment in early November, but he still about $4.8 million on hand between his campaign and committee account.

Richard Corcoran steps into sanctuary city ‘dust up’

House Speaker Richard Corcoran elbowed into a social media “spat” between Adam Putnam and Andrew Gillum about immigration, saying they’re both on the wrong side of the amnesty debate.

“Ironic to see a dust up between these two on immigration, since they’ve both supported #amnesty for illegal immigrants. Call it amnesty or sanctuary cities, both defy our rule of law and make the nation (and Florida) less safe. #TwoSidesOfTheSameCoin,” Corcoran tweeted Thursday.

Corcoran is widely expected to jump into the governor’s race after the 2018 Legislative Session.

Earlier this week, Putnam – the term-limited Agriculture Commissioner and Republican candidate for governor – tweeted, “Thanks for the Half True, @PolitiFactFL. @AndrewGillum wants to make Florida a sanctuary state. That WILL NOT happen on my watch. #FloridaFirst.”

Gillum – the mayor of Tallahassee and Democratic candidate for governor – shot back in a tweet, “Half true & all racist is nothing to be proud of, Commissioner. I’m proud to stand up for all people – precisely what Floridians expect of their leaders.”

(Putnam since responded, also on Twitter, “It’s really unfortunate that we can’t have a public dialogue about policy without insults. Sanctuary cities are dangerous and have no place in the state of Florida. That’s a fact.”)

The issue has roiled conservatives most recently because of the case of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco two years ago. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted last week on state murder and manslaughter charges, but was soon charged on other counts in federal court.

On Friday, Corcoran followed up his tweet with a web ad across his social platforms.

Jack Latvala’s fundraising slows to a halt in November

Gubernatorial candidate and Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala has been fighting back against sexual harassment allegations for more than a month, and the press reports haven’t helped in pull in money for his campaign.

Latvala entered the GOP Primary for governor back in August and after a hot start, his contributions slowed to halt in November after six women told POLITICO the longtime lawmaker had sexually harassed them during his time in office.

Latvala denies the allegations and vowed to clear his name, calling the report ‘fake news.’

Latvala’s fundraising arm, Florida Leadership Committee, finished October with $234,000 in contributions and more than $4.1 million in the bank, much of it left over from his battle to become Senate President.

In November, however, FLC took in just one check for $5,000 from the Florida Association of Health Plans PAC, with another $347 coming by way of interest, but that didn’t keep the committee from spending some of its reserves.

FLC spent nearly $160,000 last month, and had spent another $36,000 through the first week of December.

According to documents on the committee website, $50,000 of that money went to the Republican Party of Florida, more than $37,000 was spent on printing and mailers, $10,000 went to Champion Digital Media for advertising alongside several research, strategy, fundraising and political consulting contracts clocking in at a few thousand a piece.

Latvala is currently one of two major Republicans running for Florida governor. If his campaign weathers the storm, he faces termed-out Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam and likely a couple more contenders, such as House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Associated Builders and Contractors endorses Matt Caldwell for Ag Commissioner

North Fort Myers Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell announced Thursday that Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida has endorsed him in the Republican Primary to replace termed-out Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“We are thrilled to announce that we are endorsing Matt Caldwell for Commissioner of Agriculture,” ABC board chair Mary Tappouni said. “Matt is a principled conservative who will fight to ensure that every Florida resident and business has the opportunity to succeed in the Sunshine State and grow our economy.”

Caldwell is running in a three-way GOP primary for the post alongside state Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Rep. Baxter Troutman. Democrat David Walker is also running for the Cabinet seat.

The endorsement from the construction trade group follows several “waves” of endorsements for the fourth-term HD 79 representative which have included several of his Republican colleagues in the Florida House from the Panhandle, Northeast Florida, Southwest Florida and South Florida delegations, a handful of county constitutional officers and a nod from U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Paul Paulson, a one-time primary rival, also announced he would step aside and support Caldwell in the race.

“I am proud to receive the support of ABC Florida, a true champion of conservative values and free market principles. This exceptional group of individuals have fought to ensure that government does not get in the way of business in Florida and I too will continue fighting for economic prosperity in our great state,” Caldwell said in a press release.

The Caldwell campaign went on to tout October fundraising numbers which showed the Lee County Republican had raised about $1.37 million and has about $934,000 on hand between his campaign account and political committee, iGrow PC.

Through the same date, Grimsley had raised a total of $1.91 million and had about $884,000 on hand, while Troutman had raised $2.61 million and had $2.56 million on hand. His total is buoyed by $2.5 million of his own money.

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