Adam Putnam Archives - Page 4 of 33 - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: While Rick Scott goes on tour to plead his case, Richard Corcoran keeps piling up wins

While it’s clear what Gov. Rick Scott hopes to accomplish with his barnstorming tour of the state over the next few days, it almost certainly won’t make any difference.

He calls it the “Fighting For Florida’s Future” tour because he wants to fully fund Enterprise Florida so it can continue providing $85 million in taxpayer “incentives” for out-of-state businesses to bring jobs here.

Businesses will come to Florida if they believe they can make money. They don’t need what House Speaker Richard Corcoran has mocked as “corporate welfare” to do that.

Simultaneously, Scott wants to make sure VISIT Florida gets $100 million to promote tourism. Corcoran has offered about a quarter of that. While no one argues that tourists aren’t vital to the state’s economy, Scott would have a better argument for full funding if the agency was more judicious in its spending.

VISIT Florida spent $11.6 million to sponsor a cooking show hosted by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and $1 million so rapper Pitbull could look cool and hip to potential visitors in the cold frozen north.

Scott’s hope for his speaking tour is that people will get riled up enough to call their legislators and demand they approve his agenda.

Yeah. That’ll happen.

He also wants the Legislature to spend $200 million to help fix the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee. That dam was considered a culprit in last summer’s polluted water runoff that led to the disastrous algae bloom.

Pushing for that money makes the governor look like he cares for the environment. A better time to show that might have been before that runoff and while his administration was gutting environmental laws left and right, but I digress.

The bigger picture is that Scott was essentially neutered during this Legislative Session by Corcoran. The governor is now the lamest of ducks, and that won’t help him as he casts a longing eye toward Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat in 2018.

Corcoran outfoxed the governor at every budgetary turn this year and was very public about it. It goes to Corcoran’s core belief that Tallahassee spends too much money and needs to go on a fiscal diet.

It has been assumed the Speaker has considered running for Scott’s soon-to-be vacant governor’s chair, but what if there is something bigger afoot?

While Corcoran would have a tough time breaking through against fellow Republican Adam Putnam to win the Republican nomination for governor, he could draw a strong contrast between himself and Scott if he decided to go for the Senate seat instead.

Hummmmm.

In a lengthy profile on the Speaker, the Tampa Bay Times reported he has already met with the billionaire Koch brothers and appears to have their support for his economic agenda. I’m guessing that would help close the fundraising gap with Nelson and/or Scott if this hypothetical showdown ever happens.

Obviously, this is speculation — the mother’s milk of politics.

But while the governor embarks on what would be better described as a self-immolation tour for a doomed agenda, Corcoran keeps piling up the wins.

It’s official: Adam Putnam running for Florida governor

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is no longer just a likely gubernatorial candidate.

The Bartow Republican filed his paperwork Monday for a 2018 run to replace Gov. Rick Scott. He plans to make a formal announcement on the old county courthouse steps in Bartow at 11 a.m. on May 10, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which first reported Putnam’s annoouncement.

“I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I get to call Florida home,” he said in a statement. “It’s our responsibility as Floridians to keep our economy at work, to increase access to high quality education, to fiercely protect our personal freedoms, to keep our state safe, and to welcome our veterans home with open arms.”

Putnam was first elected in 2010 after serving five terms in Congress, where he was one of the highest ranking Republican members of the U.S. House. He was first elected to the Legislature when he was 22.

The 42-year-old is a fifth generation Floridian from a family of ranchers and citrus growers. He becomes the first major Republican to enter the race.

His entry into the race has long been expected. His political committee, Florida Grown, has raised $10.5 million since since February 2015. The committee ended March with more than $7.7 million cash on hand.

The committee had some of its best fundraising periods to-date in recent months. The committee raised more than $2.2 million in February and nearly $1.1 million in March.

Both Sen. Jack Latvala and Speaker Richard Corcoran are believed to be considering their options.

Latvala’s political committee, Florida Leadership Committee, has raised $8.2 million since 2013. The committee had one of its best fundraising periods to date in February, raising nearly $1.1 million.

Democrats Andrew Gillum and Chris King have already filed to run, while former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham is widely expected to announce her 2018 bid on Tuesday.

Scott can’t run again because of term limits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permissions.

Gwen Graham signals she’ll launch gubernatorial campaign Tuesday

Gwen Graham appears ready to make it official.

The former Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee is expected to announce her 2018 gubernatorial bid on Tuesday. The announcement will make Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, the third Democrat to enter the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

Her entry has long-been expected. When she announced she wouldn’t run for re-election in 2016, she told supporters in a video announcement that she was “seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”

Since then she has dropped plenty of hints about her plan, even saying she would be poised to run a 67-county strategy. And she’s been slowly building the framework, traveling the state meeting with Democratic clubs and chatting with voters about their priorities.

In February, she launched Our Florida, a state political committee expected to fund her 2018 gubernatorial run, and transferred $250,000 from her congressional coffers to the state committee. The committee is chaired by Stephanie Toothaker, an attorney with Tripp Scott who served as special counsel to her father.

The committee had about $186,903 cash on hand at the end of March, state records show.

Her federal campaign coffers aren’t completely empty. According to federal campaign finance records, Graham had about $1 million left in her federal account at the end of the first quarter.

The Democratic field is becoming more crowded by the minute. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King have already announced their runs, while Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Orlando attorney John Morgan are still considering a run.

State records show Gillum has raised $569,940 for his political committee, Forward Florida, since February 2016. The political committee had more than $105,000 cash on hand at the end March.

Gillum raised $241,736 in March for his official campaign, state records show.

King, who filed to run in March, brought in nearly $1.2 million in March. However, that sum includes $1 million King gave his own campaign.

State records show Levine put $2 million of his own money into his political committee, All About Florida, in March.

While big name Republicans haven’t thrown their hat in the race yet, the GOP primary is expected to be just as heated. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is widely expected to run, and a barbecue scheduled for May 10, just days after the scheduled end of the 2017 Legislative Session, has many wondering if his announcement will be coming soon.

Putnam’s committee, Florida Grown, has raised $10.5 million since February 2015. The committee ended March with more than $7.7 million cash on hand.

Both Sen. Jack Latvala and Speaker Richard Corcoran are also believed to be considering their options.

Latvala’s political committee, Florida Leadership Committee, has raised $8.2 million since 2013. The committee had one of its best fundraising periods to date in February, raising nearly $1.1 million.

Matt Caldwell files to run for Agriculture Commissioner

Matt Caldwell has made it official, formally announcing Monday he was running for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018.

Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, had long been expected to enter the race. In February he told FloridaPolitics.com, that he had “every intention of filing to run in August.”

But with the 2017 Legislative Session nearing an end and a special session becoming more unlikely, Caldwell said Monday he decided to pull the trigger sooner, so he can start focusing on the statewide campaign.

“We’re just going to get out of session and start focusing on grassroots,” said Caldwell.

In a statement to POLITICO Florida, which first reported Caldwell had filed his paperwork, Caldwell said he was running “in order to continue our work together, fighting for and building upon the important issues we’ve tackled in the Florida House.”

Since January, Caldwell has raised $702,825 for his political committee Friends of Matt Caldwell. State records show his February 2017 fundraising haul of $412,075 was the largest single month haul since August 2016, when the committee was started.

The committee ended March with more than $650,000 cash on hand, according to state records.

Caldwell called the sum a “great base from which to start.”

“At the end of the day, it’s a statewide race,” he said. “It gives us a starting point to talk about the political issues.”

Caldwell, the chairman of the Government Accountability Committee, has spent much of his career in the Legislature focused on environmental and agricultural issues, a background that could serve him well in the position.

He can’t run for re-election in the House because of term limits.

He isn’t the only legislator who has thrown his hat in the race. Sen. Denise Grimsley filed to run for the seat earlier this year. A fifth generation Floridian, Grimsley was first elected to the Florida House in 2004, where she served until 2012, when she was elected to the Senate

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam can’t run for the seat because of term limits. He is widely expected to run for governor.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball calls Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial race a ‘toss-up’ in initial ratings

With so much uncertainty about who is in or out of the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race, it’s not surprising that at least one political seer has deemed Florida too-close-to-call.

Initial 2018 gubernatorial ratings released Thursday by Sabato’s Crystal Ball ranked Florida as one of 10 states considered a “toss-up” going into the 2018 election cycle. The ratings found more than half of the 38 gubernatorial races on the ballot next year either start in “competitive toss-up or leans Republican/Democratic categories.”

The report noted Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has been “gearing up for a gubernatorial run for years” and is seen as the favorite on the Republican side to succeed Gov. Rick Scott. But with several other Republicans considering a run, authors Geoffrey Skelley and Kyle Kondik report it is “hard to say just how clear his path to the nomination will be.”

Putnam has been touring the state meeting with local Republican and business group to talk about his vision for the future, and has been building up his campaign coffers in advance of his expected bid. State records show Florida Grown, the political committee expected to fuel his gubernatorial bid, has raised more than $10.5 million since 2015, and had more than $7.7 million cash on hand at the end of March.

The Bartow Republican is scheduled to have a barbecue in his hometown on May 10, just five days after the expected end of the annual 2017 Legislative Session. The event, according to the Tampa Bay Times, will be held at the Old Polk County Courthouse.

But Putnam could face competition from Sen. Jack Latvala and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, both of whom are believed to be considering a 2018 bid.

Latvala, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, raised more than $246,000 for his political committee, the Florida Leadership Committee, in the days leading up to the start of the 2017 Legislative Session. That one-week fundraising haul in March came after one of his best fundraising months to date, when his committee raised nearly $1.1 million in February.

The Democratic side isn’t any easier to predict, according to the team at Sabato’s. While the authors write it might “come down to Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and ex-Rep. Gwen Graham, both of who could be considered rising stars in the party,” the team does note there are “some wealthy wild cards who could self-fund, such as 2010 Senate candidate Jeff Greene, businessman Chris King, and well-known attorney John Morgan.”

Gillum and King are the only Democrats who have filed to run, but Graham is widely expected to jump in the race soon, as is Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who could fall into the self-fund category.

State records show Levine pumped $2 million of his own money into his political committee, All About Florida, in March. Levine has spent the last few weeks touring the state meeting with community members.

Both Gillum and King have been staffing up. Gillum announced this week that Scott Arceneaux, the former head of the Florida Democratic Party, would be joining his campaign as chief strategist; while King unveiled a host of key hires, including Raymond Paultre as his director of strategic engagement and Stephanie McClung as his finance director.

Gillum announced earlier this month he had raised $765,000 — spread between his official campaign and his political committee Forward Florida — since the start of 2017, most of which was raised since March 1. Meanwhile, state records show King brought in nearly $1.2 million for his official campaign in March. That sum included a $1 million contribution King made to his own campaign.

But a crowded field could be an issue for Democrats hoping to turn Florida blue, according to Sabato’s Crystal Ball. The rankings noted that although Democrats came close to winning in 2010 and 2014, they “haven’t won a gubernatorial race in Florida since 1994 … so an extremely crowded field in an expensive state with a late primary could be problematic for them.”

Daniel Sohn announces Agriculture Commissioner bid

A South Florida Democrat has announced he plans to run for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018.

Daniel Sohn announced Wednesday he was throwing his hat in the race to replaced Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in two years. In a 2 minute and 30 second video announcing his intentions, Sohn he plans to meet with Floridians, business and environmental groups about how to improve the state.

“Now there is no harm in recognizing that the success of Florida’s economy lies within the agricultural industry, for after all it is Florida’s economic engine,” he said in the video. “But Florida deserves a leader that can continue focusing on the needs of our industries, while beginning to do what Florida should have already been doing best — taking care of our people.”

Sohn is expected to kick-off a statewide tour at the Democratic Veterans Caucus of Palm Beach County meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Guatemalan Mayan Center in Lake Worth. He’s expected to attend the Broward Democratic Progressive Caucus meeting in Plantation on Thursday, before attending the South West Florida Clean Water Festival in Fort Myers Beach on Sunday.

This won’t be the first time Sohn has sought public office. While he initially expressed interest in running for Dania Beach City Commission in 2016, records show he failed to qualify for the spot on the ballot. Instead he ran for the Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation board, losing that election to Matthew Bymaster.

According to the campaign’s Facebook page, Sohn current serves as the district aide to Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor Pat Edmonson. Edmonson, according to a news release Wednesday, is coordinating his campaign.

Sohn will be the second Democrat to jump into the race to replace Putnam, who can’t run again because of term limits. State records show Michael Damian Christine filed to run for the seat on April 11.

Republicans Denise Grimsley and Paul Paulson have already to file to run for the seat, and Matt Caldwell is widely expected to file to run later this summer.

 

In Sarasota, Adam Putnam warns GOP of complacency in 2018

Electorally speaking, for two decades now, it’s been a good time to be a Republican in Florida.

But after last fall’s victory by Donald Trump, the Chicken Chard and salmon dill seemed to go down even smoother Thursday night at the Sarasota County Reagan Patriot Day Dinner in Venice.

“Gosh, isn’t it great to be a Republican? Even greater that The Donald is our President,” said longtime Sarasota Republican Cynthia Crowe kicking off the festivities at the Jacaranda West Country Club.

“And isn’t it refreshing that we have a politician who keeps his word?”

“He’s not a politician!” a voice shouted from the back of the room.

Nobody will ever accuse Adam Putnam of not being a politician.

The state’s Agriculture Commissioner has served in public office for nearly half of his 42 years on the planet, and is running hard to succeed Rick Scott as the next Governor of Florida, even though he hasn’t actually declared his candidacy yet.

The keynote speaker for the evening, Putnam has often described his native Florida as a “reward for a life well lived,” which is great if you’re gunning for the over 60-crowd.

However, it isn’t dynamic enough for a general election campaign, something he’s obviously aware of. That’s because he now pivots off that signature phrase to say that the Sunshine State can now be a “launchpad for the American dream.”

“We’re already the envy of the nation,” Putnam says. “Now we can be the envy of the world.”

If Marco Rubio was a champion of American exceptionalism during his ill-fated run for president a year ago, Putnam is running as a champion of Florida exceptionalism.

The state’s Agriculture Commissioner talks about the look in the eyes of out-of-state families when they arrive at a Florida airport for a vacation, and when they depart.

“They have made memories of a lifetime,” he says with the reverence of a child coming back from a week of enjoying theme parks, before stating with pride that “something like two-thirds of all Make a Wish Foundation requests are to come to Florida. That’s our state.” The crowd cheers.

(He asked not to be ‘PolitiFacted’ on that quote.)

Putnam is clearly on Rick Scott’s side in the debate with House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the merits of retaining Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.

“Coke doesn’t stop advertising. Budweiser doesn’t stop advertising,” he said, adding that the state needs to “invest in telling Florida’s story,” especially if it wants to diversify its economy.

While Florida is a classic Purple State in presidential elections, it’s otherwise awash in red, which is why Republicans have to revert to what it was like in the 1990s when talking about Democratic rule in Tallahassee (Putnam boasted about how crime rates have gone down 45 percent in Florida in the two decades since Republicans began ruling the roost, even though that has been a national trend).

Perhaps that’s why Putnam took aim at New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio instead, saying his policies are making people flee New York for Florida and calling him the best economic developer Florida’s ever had.

“We’re going to make him the honorary chairman of Enterprise Florida. How about that?”

And while Putnam praised the conservative government rule the state has been under for the past two decades, saying that’s why it’s done better economically than states like New York, California and Ohio, his policy prescriptions have tremendous room for growth.

“My strategy for infrastructure is to put up a picture of Atlanta,” Putnam said, decrying traffic conditions in the Georgia capital. But with Florida’s population growing again, traffic concerns are felt in the state’s biggest metropolis like never before.

Putnam ended his half-hour address with a stark reminder of how important it was for Republicans not to be complacent going into next year’s election cycle.

Referring to how the party out of power traditionally does well in off-year congressional elections, (not mentioning the intense grassroots Democratic opposition that manifested itself at town halls this winter and spring), Putnam said the GOP needs to reverse that narrative in 2018.

“We cannot rest on our laurels,” he stressed. “We have to be driven and focused and never take our foot off the gas. We can’t let up,” adding that “Florida has come too far, and America has come too far for us to sit back and become complacent and let the Democrats strip away all the gains we have made.”

So far, Putnam has already raised more than $9 million for the race, even though he’s still not officially a candidate for governor.

Nevertheless, the Democrats are indeed treating him as one, with the Democratic Governors Association requesting a full investigation into Florida Grown PC, a political committee associated with Putnam.

The DGA says that a Miami Herald report and public records show the committee has repeatedly circumvented requirements to reveal the ultimate purpose of a majority of its spending.

Joe Henderson: Rick Scott’s approval rating climbs because the economy trumps everything

The steady increase in Gov. Rick Scott’s approval rating has reinforced the notion that if voters have a job and the economy seems to be humming along, other things don’t matter much.

The latest poll, released this week by Morning Consult, put Scott’s approval number at 57 percent. Considering that he stood at 26 percent in 2012 according to Public Policy Polling, that’s downright miraculous.

That same PPP poll five years ago included a forecast that Scott would lose a then-theoretical matchup with Charlie Crist by 55-32 percent. Scott was declared to be the most unpopular governor in the country.

What changed?

The economy. Duh!

Scott still has the singular focus he brought to Tallahassee as an outsider in 2011. We all remember what the economy was like then as the nation tried to recover from the Great Recession.

Scott’s game plan of offering business incentives to attract jobs has been unrelenting. He has targeted regulations that he says strangle job growth.

While his disregard for environmental laws proved disastrous last summer when guacamole-like runoff from Lake Okeechobee became national news, voters appear inclined to overlook that as long as they have a steady paycheck. That’s how Scott got out of controversies that included the messy dismissal in 2014 of Florida Department of Law Enforcement chief Gerald Bailey. That was handled so poorly that even Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a member of Scott’s cabinet, claimed he was “misled” by the governor’s staff.

Scott also had to spend more than $1 million in taxpayer money to settle seven public records lawsuits because of his penchant for operating in the shadows.

Even the ongoing battle with Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran over two of Scott’s major programs for business development and tourism promotion — Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA — hasn’t hurt the governor. If anything, it seems to have enhanced his standing with voters.

All of this would seem to bode well for his expected challenge for Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat in 2018. Scott’s approval number has inched above Nelson’s, which is significant (maybe).

A lot can happen before that Senate race; remember the poll that said Crist would easily beat Scott for governor. Scott is closely aligned with President Donald Trump, and there is no way to tell how that will impact the race.

And while the economy is doing well and Scott is reaping the benefit now, everyone would be advised to remember another campaign from the dusty past as an example of how quickly things can change.

Republicans circulated a flier saying their candidate for president would ensure “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”

That was in 1928. The candidate was Herbert Hoover. He won with 444 electoral votes. A year later, the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression changed everything. Just four years after his landslide, Hoover lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose electoral college total was 472.

Translation: Things look good now, but don’t get cocky.

Denise Grimsley raises $260K in March for Ag. Commissioner bid

Sen. Denise Grimsley raised more than $260,000 in just one week toward her 2018 Agriculture Commissioner bid, far outpacing the only other Republican candidate in the race.

But state campaign finance record show Grimsley could face stiff fundraising competition from Rep. Matt Caldwell, whose political committee raised more than $224,000 in the same one-week period.

State campaign finance records show Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, raised a combined $260,756 between March 1 and March 6, the eve of the 2017 Legislative Session. Grimsley brought in $85,008 to her official campaign account; her political committee, Saving Florida’s Heartland, brought in $176,000.

Records show Innovate Florida, Sen. Bill Galvano’s political committee, gave Grimsley’s committee $50,000, making it the top contributor during the fundraising period. The committee also received a $25,000 contribution from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, which is linked to Associated Industries of Florida. Other top donors included the Florida Prosperity Fund, Costa Nursery Farms, OD-EYE PAC, and the Jacksonville Kennel Club.

Grimsley ended the one-month period with nearly $276,000 cash on hand in her official campaign account, and more than $450,000 cash on hand in her political committee.

Grimsley announced in February she was running for Agriculture Commissioner. A fifth generation Floridians, Grimsley was first elected to the Florida House in 2004, where she served until 2012. She was elected to the Senate in 2012, and easily won re-election in 2016.

So far the only other Republican to file to run for the seat is Orlando Republican Paul Paulson. State campaign finance records show Paulson raised no money in March.

Paulson, however, is far from the only Republican eyeing the race. In February, Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, said he intended to file to run for Agriculture Commissioner in August. That’s meant to honor a request from House Speaker Richard Corcoran that members of his leadership team hold off filing to run for higher office until after the legislative session.

State records show Caldwell’s political committee — Friends of Matt Caldwell — raised $224,980 between March 1 and March 6, the day before the start of the 2017 Legislative Session. The committee received $25,000 from Six L’s Pack Company and $20,000 from Troyer Bros. FL.

The committee ended the fundraising period with more than $659,000 cash on hand.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam can’t run for re-election because of term limits. He’s widely expected to announce a 2018 gubernatorial bid.

oranges

Citrus forecast generally holds steady, USDA says

The bad news in citrus: “Grapefruit production declined.” The good news: “Florida orange production remained steady.”

That’s the upshot of the latest forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, according to the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC).

“The April report projects the state’s orange crop to stay at 67 million boxes for the 2016-17 season,” a Tuesday news release said. “The grapefruit crop was reduced by 800,000 boxes to 8.1 million.”

The industry has been savaged 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.

“It’s a tough hit for Florida’s grapefruit growers who have been so committed to fighting pest and disease to maintain this staple of Florida’s economy,” said Shannon Shepp, FDOC’s executive director.

The department, funded mainly through box taxes paid by the state’s citrus growers, serves as the chief marketing, regulation and promotional arm of the industry.

“Florida grapefruit is, by far, what world consumers seek out for its unique flavor profile, sweetness and juiciness,” Shepp added.

In a separate statement, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the latest forecast “represents a more than 70 percent collapse in production of our state’s signature crop” since the 1997-98 season.

“Until a long-term solution is discovered, which some of our state’s brightest minds are working on, we must support Florida’s multi-billion dollar citrus industry and the more than 60,000 jobs it supports,” he said.

Greening is caused by a jumping plant louse and the bacteria it hosts. The tiny bugs feed on citrus leaves and infect the trees with the bacteria as they go. Researchers have been looking into ways to cure the disease or to grow a strain of citrus resistant to the bacteria.

Florida’s growers and industry groups have sought approval from the federal government to use antimicrobial treatments to fight greening.

Putnam “issued a crisis declaration in 2016 regarding their application to the Environmental Protection Agency, which allowed the immediate use of these treatments,” his release said.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons