Adam Putnam – Page 5 – Florida Politics

It’s not that Adam Putnam was photographed with Mark Foley…

Mark Foley is my friend. Let me be very clear about that.

I knew him while he served in Congress. And I stayed in touch with him after he resigned after it was revealed that he sent sexually suggestive emails and instant messages to high school boys in the page program for years.

And while many people — understandably — have shunned/shun Foley, I am not one of those people. I believe in the power of redemption. Hell, I am the embodiment of why you give people not just a second chance, but a third and fourth one.

On Friday night, Foley was photographed accompanying Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam to a GOP event at Mar-a-Lago.

The photo of Foley and Putnam together not only drew the notice of Florida politicos with apparently nothing else to do on a Friday night, but also the national media, including CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Quickly, the photo became fodder in Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign, with U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis‘ campaign manager, Brad Herold, making hay of the shot, albeit more so for the irony of Putnam also being photographed with Donald Trump, Jr.

The Florida Democratic Party was less forgiving.

“It’s despicable that Adam Putnam is so desperate to sell out to Donald Trump that he would hang out with a sexual predator accused of harassing children,” said FDP spokesperson Kevin Donohoe.

For right now, let’s put aside the issue of Foley’s history, Putnam’s friendship with him, and the vulnerability Putnam has because of his connection to disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. I know, I know … it’s difficult to look past that, but let’s do it just for the moment.

The question being asked this Saturday morning is who at Putnam campaign HQ thought it was a good idea in the first place to post the picture of Foley and Putnam?

“It’s like their social media people are trying to get fired,” remarked one top-level political strategist not affiliated with any of the GOP campaigns.

“Single greatest piece of political malpractice I’ve ever seen,” observed a Republican supporting DeSantis.

To call it the greatest piece of political malpractice is probably a stretch, but the point remains: why did the campaign post a picture of the candidate with a politician who was forced to resign from Congress because of a predatory sex scandal?

It would have been bad enough if some third-party actor, like another guest at Mar-a-Lago, had posted the picture of Foley and Putnam. But this is an unforced error.

What’s really troubling for the Putnam campaign is it’s the second major unforced error committed by Putnam JUST THIS WEEK.

On Tuesday, Putnam spoke with Fox 13’s Craig Patrick, in what was rightly described as a “cringe-worthy interview,” repeatedly dodged Patrick’s questions and refused to walk back his “NRA sellout” comments. He also announced that he would not have signed the new gun bill being challenged in court by the NRA.

That interview may endear him with Republican primary voters, but Putnam can also count on footage from it being used against him in October and November when he is trying to win the votes of swing voters.

But that’s six months away. Right now, Putnam needs to fire the social media wizard who posted that pic of him with one of Florida’s most infamous politicians.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates slam Rick Scott for education budget

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gwen GrahamAndrew GillumPhilip Levine, and Chris King took aim at Florida Gov. Rick Scott Friday afternoon, charging that the state budget he signed fails to adequately fund public education, with Graham declaring, “This will be the last budget… that underfunds Florida’s students.”

“Rick Scott’s education budget includes a measly 47-cent increase for education — it fails to even cover the rate of inflation,” Graham, the former congresswoman from Tallahassee, declared in a statement issue by her gubernatorial campaign Friday. “The governor is so out of touch with Florida families he may actually think that’s enough to fund our schools, but 47 cents won’t even buy Rick Scott a gum ball.

On Friday Scott signed the 2018-’19 state budget with $88.7 billion in spending, and also vetoed $64 million worth of line items. Scott’s office maintains the budget offers a record amount of spending on public schools, but Graham contends it falls far short of what is needed. Earlier, Graham had called for Scott to veto the budget, call the Florida Legislature back to a special session, and demand more money for public schools.

“When Rick Scott leaves the Governor’s Mansion this year, he’ll leave behind a legacy of cutting and underfunding public schools in Florida. This hasn’t just hurt our students — it hurts our economy and the entire state,” she continued. “Budgets, whether they’re made over a kitchen table or in the Capitol, are about priorities. For 20 years, the Republican politicians in Tallahassee have failed to make public education a priority, and, in 2018, voters will hold them accountable for their failures.”

She added this pledge: “As governor, I will pick apart the Republicans’ budget piece by piece to eliminate their wasteful spending and use those tax dollars where families will benefit — in our schools. Mark my words. This will be the last budget for next eight years that underfunds Florida’s students and schools.”

Gillum’s response took a similar tact he posted on Twitter Friday afternoon.

“A failure to properly fund our students education & not just a response to Parkland, is no surprise from @FLGovScott. Teachers & schools do some of the most important work on Earth: educating our kids. This budget falls well short of what our students need to learn and be safe,” Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, tweeted.

 Levine, a businessman and former mayor of Miami Beach, also ripped into Scott over the schools spending, and also criticized the state’s spending for health care.

“Governor Rick Scott is ending his tenure as Governor the same way he started it––short-changing our schools, our teachers and our students,” Levine said in a statement issued by his campaign. As governor, I would never sign this out-of-touch budget. This budget does nothing to improve our state’s back-of-the-pack status in teacher pay, and continues to leave too many Floridians without access to health care. We need leaders that will invest in our education and healthcare, not leave them with pennies on the dollar.”

King, a Winter Park developer of affordable housing and senior housing, noted that any budget is a statement of priorities.

“Rick Scott’s [priorities] are dead wrong,” King said. “Our students and teachers deserve better than a paltry 47-cent increase, but nothing will change in Tallahassee until we change the types of leaders we send there.”

The leading Republican candidates are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam.

Philip Levine announces Ed Rendell’s endorsement

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine has picked up an endorsement from Pennsylvania’s former governor Ed Rendell.

Rendell served as general chair of the Democratic National Committee during the last two years of the Clinton administration. He served two terms as Pennsylvania’s governor after that, and two terms as mayor of Philadelphia before his DNC post.

Levine is a former mayor of Miami Beach.

“I am proud to support Mayor Philip Levine to be the next governor of Florida,” Rendell said in a news release issued by Levine’s campaign. “As a former two-term mayor myself, I am happy to stand behind another mayor with a strong record of success, who has done the right thing for his community by taking bold action on climate change, raising the minimum wage, and fighting for the values that improve the lives of residents. During my time as governor, I realized I was incredibly well prepared for the challenges I would face because of my service as a two term mayor. As the former chair of the DNC, I also know what it takes to win tough races. Philip has everything it takes to win the Governor’s mansion after over 20 years of one-party rule and bring Florida Democrats together with a bold progressive vision for the future.”

Levine is battling with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and Winter Park businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor. The leading Republican candidates are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“Ed is a good friend, an incredible mayor, and an accomplished governor in his own right,” Levine said in the release. “Our campaign continues to grow its support because Floridians know we will shake up Tallahassee and focus on getting things done. As governor, I’m committed to move Florida forward as a leader in the 21st century economy by investing in our public schools, our environment, our healthcare, and fighting for the real needs of Floridians.”

A couple of cracks in the Gwen Graham facade

Take a good look at the picture below of Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham participating in her latest “workday.”

On Tuesday, the former U.S. Representative was at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in Immokalee. Graham spent a shift helping out at an early childhood education center to learn more about their pre-K and Head Start programs, and the needs of migrant families.

Of note: Bob Graham performed a workday with the RCMA as Governor in 1983.

What you see in the picture (and the other five or six that Graham’s campaign sent to me) is the very essence of compassion and empathy. It’s Clintonian “I feel your pain.”

I see a mother who knows the value of being patient with a child.

I see a wife who had the strength to help her husband through a battle with cancer.

Burnishing her sympathy cred: Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham spent Tuesday working at an early childhood education center in Immokalee to learn about “the needs of the migrant families” there.

I see the gentle wrinkles of time underneath a face beaming with hope.

I know this is cheesy to say, but I got emotional when I first saw these pictures of Graham, who admittedly is probably my first or second choice to be the next Governor of Florida.

If nothing else, what I see here is the exact opposite of the awkward (albeit effective) current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion.

I see the opposite of the wannabe Fox News studio host who is also running for Governor (Ron DeSantis).

I see the opposite of the less-than-genuine Republican who is most likely to face Graham in November (Adam Putnam).

Yet, as I look at the earnestness of this woman, with whom I have connected but really don’t know, I can’t help but wonder:

Why isn’t her campaign doing better?

Why is she struggling to raise real money?

Why do so many Democrats say that she is “boring” on the campaign trail?

Why do I have this bad feeling in my stomach about where Graham’s campaign will end?

Graham is in a difficult position right now as the politics of Parkland reshape the Democratic primary and the gubernatorial race.

On her left, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is winning the competition for earned media. He’s on MSNBC. He’s being written up in The Washington Post. Kevin Cate, one of his media advisers, can show you stats about clicks and likes and retweets that indicate Gillum is the candidate most in sync with Democratic primary voters.

On Graham’s other flank is former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine. Where Gillum’s campaign is being infused with the oxygen of earned media, Levine’s effort is being propelled by a seemingly unending number of personal checks to pay for a stream of television ads.

Also in the mix is Orlando businessman Chris King, who has yet to register with most voters, but whose presence in the race is just another indication that the primary is a wide-open affair.

The polls indicate that Graham is the nominal front-runner. And it’s a mistake to label Graham, as POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo does, a “weak” front-runner.

To the contrary, she’s a good candidate running against three other good candidates. This primary will be won with the four candidates separated by no more than a dozen or so points.

Yet there are too-frequent reminders that Graham’s position atop the polls is precarious.

Gillum recently announced that he has the support of top Democratic fundraiser Bob Poe.

On Wednesday, Levine scored the endorsement of former state lawmaker Keith Fitzgerald, who will serve as a policy adviser to the campaign. Why is this significant? Because Fitz — so respected by the Steve Schales of the party — is the kind of center-left Democrat Graham needs to win the primary.

Had Graham won the backing of Poe and/or Fitzgerald, it probably would not have registered. It would have just been another indication of Graham sewing up the establishment’s support.

Instead, there are now two more cracks in Gwen Graham’s facade.

It’s becoming hard to look at.

Mike McCalister enters Agriculture Commissioner race

Mike McCalister entered the race for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, setting up a four-way Republican primary to replace Adam Putnam, who is termed-out and running for Governor.

Florida Politics previously reported that McCalister, a retired Army Colonel, was eyeing a run for the seat with a decision to come in early spring.

McCalister got some name recognition when he ran for governor in 2010, the same year Rick Scott won his first term, and when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2012. He took 10 percent in the Republican Primary for governor — more than 130,000 votes — despite spending less than $10,000 on his campaign.

Chatter about McCalister launching another campaign for statewide office grew loud early in the year as he made stops at Republican clubs and town hall meetings.

His efficiency in 2010 will come in handy in the Ag Commissioner race, where each of his three primary opponents has crossed the $1 million mark in total fundraising.

McCalister joins Lehigh Acres Rep Matt Caldwell, Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Republican Primary for the Cabinet position. Also running are Democrats Jeffrey Porter, David Walker and Thomas White.

Troutman leads the field in fundraising due to a $2.5 million self-contribution. He has $2.7 million on hand, followed by Caldwell with $1.11 million and Grimsley with about $910,000.

The primary election is in late August.

Ron DeSantis: Russia may be malevolent but no collusion with Trump campaign

Appearing on Fox News Tuesday morning, Republican Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis defended the House Intelligence Committee’s Republican declaration Monday that it was ending its Russia probe after concluding there had been no collusion with Russia by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

DeSantis, a congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, said he thinks the Russians’ activities “are malevolent” but he charged that the Democrats politicized the investigation by making it about Trump, and said it is time to move on.

“There’s no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We’ve got to move on to that,” DeSantis said. “Now, Russian activity, I think they are malevolent, and I think we should try to deal with that in one voice,” DeSantis said on Fox News’ “Happening Now” show.

DeSantis faces Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Aug. 28 Republican primary, with the expected additional entry into the Republican race of Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran.

“But I think the problem with this is since Trump was elected it was politicized and the Democrats tried to lump Trump in with some type of nefarious Russian activity. And there’s just no basis for that other than the Steele dossier, which is not verified. There has never been evidence put forward. They’ve been doing this for over a year. They made the right decision. It’s time to move on.”

DeSantis did not make any references to the ongoing independent investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or the four members of Trump’s campaign team who have been indicted in Mueller’s Russia probe.

Philip Levine launching new TV ads on gun violence

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is launching new television commercials Tuesday addressing post-Parkland calls for assault weapon bans and universal background checks.

The 30-second spot “The Moment” is being released in both English and Spanish versions for English and Spanish television stations in all Florida television markets, part of a $1.3 million ad buy from his official gubernatorial campaign. His independent political committee All About Florida also has been spending millions of dollars on television commercials.

With video cutting from shots of Levine speaking to rallies following the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Levine begins by declaring, “This is one of those moments when we lose something so precious to us, there is nothing we won’t do to make it right.

“Now Floridians are standing up to gun violence, demanding universal background checks, bans on assault rifles, and protecting our schools,” he continues. “I’m Philip Levine, and I’m running for Governor because I’m a parent who will not stop at anything until we make our gun laws stronger and our children safe.”

Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor, is in a battle with former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor. The leading Republicans are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“While session has ended with a small step forward on gun reform, the calls for bold action demanded by the majority of Floridians were ignored by the governor and Legislature. It’s deeply frustrating that Republicans in Tallahassee were more focused on arming school personnel than taking military-style weapons off the streets. The new ad released today reiterates Mayor Levine’s commitment to take these issues directly to the people as Governor, and seize the moment to make our gun laws stronger and make sure our children are safe,” Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to Levine, stated in a news release.

 

Adam Putnam raises $905K in February

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised $905,630 for his gubernatorial bid in February, ending the month with nearly $17.5 million on hand.

Putnam is one of three major Republicans running to replace termed-out Gov. Rick Scott in 2018. He faces U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Putnam’s campaign finance report is not yet available through the Florida Division of Elections, but his campaign said $636,550 of the February money came in through Putnam’s political committee, Florida Grown, with the other $269,080 coming in through his campaign account.

The two accounts had about $16.8 million on hand at the end of January, putting February spending at approximately $200,000. Florida Grown records show he spent at least $124,000 through his committee last month.

His campaign said more than 99 percent of the February contributions came from Florida individuals and businesses.

Putnam is still far ahead of his rivals in total fundraising, with $24.49 million brought in to date, though he wasn’t the top fundraiser last month.

DeSantis announced earlier this week that he had raised $2 million in February between his campaign account and committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis.

Corcoran, who has not officially entered the race, has raised $6.6 million for his political committee, Watchdog PAC. He had about $5 million of that on hand at the end of January.

Four major Democrats are also running for governor in 2018: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

Graham raised $660,000 last month and has raised approximately $6.8 million to date; Levine raised $440,000 last month, plus another $800,000 in candidate contributions for more than $10 million to date; King added $265,000 in February and has raised $3.2 million so far; and Gillum raised $245,000 last month for total of $2.1 million thus far.

Baxter Troutman hits $2.9M raised in Ag Commissioner race

Republican Baxter Troutman said his Agriculture Commissioner campaign hit the $2.9 million mark in total fundraising last month and has $2.7 million on hand.

Troutman, a former Winter Haven state representative, is one of three Republicans vying to replace term-limited Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for Governor in 2018.

Troutman’s February campaign finance report is not yet available through the Florida Division of Elections, though he would have had to raise about $200,000 and spend $50,000 last month to hit his stated figures.

At the end of January, Troutman’s campaign and committee, iGrow PC, had brought in $2.7 million, including $2.5 million in candidate contributions, and had about $2.55 million on hand.

His primary opponents, Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell and Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley, were not able to raise money for their campaigns due to the Legislature being in Session for all of February.

Caldwell finished January with about $1.11 million in the bank between his campaign and committee, while Grimsley had $909,459 on hand between her two accounts.

Sitting lawmakers are not barred from spending campaign cash during Session, so their balances may show a decline once their reports are filed.

Three Democrats are also running for the Cabinet position: Jeffery Duane Porter, R. David Walker and Thomas Clayton White.

None of the three candidates have posted their February reports.

Walker had less than $500 in his campaign account at the end of January and Porter and White didn’t file for the race until the tail end of the month.

Ron DeSantis says he raised $2 million in February for gubernatorial campaign

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is reporting that his campaign and independent political committee combined raised more than $2 million in February.

DeSantis, the Republican congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, announced Wednesday that his official campaign raised $471,000 and his Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee raised $1,616,000 during the month, giving him a 50-day tally of more than $5.4 million in the two funds. That includes $2.4 million transferred to the political committee from another political committee, Fund for Florida’s Future.

The Florida Secretary of State has not yet posted returns from either his campaign nor the political committee.

DeSantis’ campaign stated Wednesday that they now have a combined $5.2 million cash on hand. In January the campaign had raised more than $131,000, while the political committee had raised $3.2 million.

DeSantis is seeking the Aug. 28 Republican primary nomination to run for Governor, competing with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

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