Adam Putnam Archives - Page 6 of 27 - Florida Politics

Diane Roberts: Nature at war with Florida — thanks, Rick Scott!

The streets of Miami and Fort Lauderdale flood on a distressingly regular basis; the drinking water in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties is getting salty; mosquitoes infect you with Zika; toxic algae in our rivers, lakes and seas will give you a hideous rash, attack your nervous system, and impair your liver.

Nature has declared war on Florida.

Thanks, Rick Scott.

To be fair, our desperate environmental straits are not entirely this governor’s fault. Dumping filthy runoff into our waters goes back decades: Democratic and Republican governors, as well as bought-and-paid-for legislators, all keen on pimping Florida to Big Sugar, Big AG and Big Developer, generally prefer power to principle.

Letting polluters pollute is the price of getting elected in Florida.

But no governor in modern times has been so hostile to science or so clueless about Florida’s complex ecology as Rick Scott, a man who gets off his air-conditioned plane into an air-conditioned car and drives to air-conditioned rooms.

The Environmental Regulation Commission, its members appointed by Rick Scott, just voted to increase allowed pollutants in our water, including carcinogens and noisome stuff produced by pulp plants, dry cleaners, sewage treatment plants and (just a coincidence!) fracking.

Shocking? Not for this governor. He destroyed Florida’s only growth management agency when he dismantled the Department of Community Affairs — DCA often stopped the most rapacious and destructive projects, including a marina in Taylor County which would have wrecked an aquatic preserve, high-rise condos in Palm Beach County, parked on a fragile barrier island, and commercial development in Dade County which would have encroached on the Everglades.

Scott packed the state’s water management districts with business types and “downsized” by firing scientists.

He let it be known that no one connected to his regime should utter the words “climate change,” though sea levels are rising, temperatures are rising, and South Florida is inundated with ever more frequent “king tides.” He decided DEP’s mission should not be environmental protection but the encouragement of profit über alles — and fired more scientists.

And speaking of firing scientists, Scott cut mosquito research and control by 40 percent. He and the Republican-ruled Legislature raided the trust fund which was supposed to pay for dealing with skeeters and the unpleasant viruses they bring for more “urgent” priorities.

You know, like tax cuts for the rich.

Yet once Zika crossed the Straits of Florida, he started bellowing about how Barack Obama is to blame for not giving us enough money to fight it. Just like he blamed the president for the stinking cyanobacteria from the southwestern Gulf of Mexico to the Treasure Coast.

This would be the same president whose EPA he regularly reviles, informing the world that Florida can take care of its own waters.

Scott has fought against decent, measurable standards under the Clean Water Act since he came into office in 2011, aided and abetted by Adam Putnam, the Commissioner of (Big and Dirty) Agriculture and the Legislature. Courtesy of Big Shug — always a massive campaign contributor to both political parties — Lake Okeechobee gets nastier by the minute, putting the Everglades and South Florida’s already impaired rivers increasingly at risk.

Florida could have bought a huge chunk of U.S. Sugar land south of the lake to store (and thus clean) dirty water and restore the flow of the ‘glades.

But Scott — and his hand-picked South Florida Water Management Board — said no. Why? U.S. Sugar no longer wanted to sell.

Got to keep the boss happy.

There’s some potentially good news on the horizon: incoming Senate President Joe Negron wants to buy 60,000 acres of sugar land south of the lake to clean up the water. He says it’s a “personal priority” for him.

If Negron can get the feds to pay for half of it (he’d better pray Hillary Clinton wins in November) and if he can get it past the Florida Legislature, it might go a very long way in reversing years of debilitating neglect.

Whether or not this happens will depend on whether Rick Scott figures Floridians will forget his poisonous environmental policies in time for the 2018 US Senate election.

In the meantime, Nature is on the rampage. And who can blame her?

___

Diane Roberts’ book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be out in paperback this fall. She teaches at Florida State University.

Joe Negron shows himself a statesman, but his land buying plan is untenable

Sen. Joe Negron’s statesmanlike news conference demonstrated how deeply he cares about water issues.

There’s no doubt his plan to buy 60,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee will be heralded in his hometown, but in all likelihood, the plan will be met with many roadblocks in Tallahassee.

In short, the idea is politically untenable, costs too much, and is scientifically unproven. But few things have ever stopped an incoming Senate president from shooting for the stars.

First, there was initial sticker shock at the price of the plan: $2.8 billion, to be split between the state and federal government. To raise that sum of money, the project will be bonded — a non-starter with Gov. Rick Scott and the frugal Republicans in the Florida House.

Then there’s also the fact that buying land would involve taking farmland from sugarcane growers, which have resisted giving up land. And should the land be purchased, there’s still an estimated $2 billion in construction that would need to be completed — bringing the total of Negron’s plan to approximately $4.8 billion.

The reality is that, for nearly two decades, both the state and federal government have committed significant resources to finish the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) — a plan that has enjoyed broad support from environmentalists and the agricultural industry.

Negron’s plan provides state and federal leaders with a detour at a time when they have been looking for an expressway to finish the projects.

There’s also the practicality of buying 60,000 acres of farmland. Rep. Matt Caldwell, who may have designs on running for Commissioner of Agriculture, cannot afford to allow the sale of 60,000 acres of farmland on his watch.

And as for Commissioner Adam Putnam, a farmer himself, this issue could be the opening salvo of the 2018 governor’s race. This is his moment to stand up for an industry embattled by crop loss and economic hardship over the last few years.

The plan is also lacking in science and ignores the practical reality of sequence in planning for storage south of Lake Okeechobee. Last week, the South Florida Water Management District responded to Congressman Patrick Murphy’s request to build storage south of Lake Okeechobee by stating it has no plans to expedite planning for storage before 2021.

Even if Negron’s plan were to pass the Legislature, and dollars start flowing, the project itself wouldn’t be fully developed until well into the next decade. That’s a tough pill to swallow for backbench lawmakers laser-focused on the here and now.

The technical experts we’ve talked to say realistic assumptions show the project could probably only reduce lake releases by 12 percent, which amounts to only a 6 percent reduction of water to the St. Lucie estuary. To spend $4.8 billion with so little in return makes this plan unappealing to many outside the Treasure Coast.

Once the heat of the election wears off, Senate President-designate Negron and Treasure Coast lawmakers will be left to defend a plan many members have very little inclination to support.

When you add it all up — the price tag, politics, and optics of putting farmers out of business — it’s going to be difficult for Negron to broaden support for lawmakers who aren’t already working to solve the Lake Okeechobee dilemma.

37% of Florida GOP voters back Mike Huckabee for governor in 2018

It’s never too early to think about the next election, and a new poll from St. Pete Polls has Floridians doing just that.

According to the survey, 54 percent of likely Republican primary voters said Gov. Rick Scott would make a good U.S. Senator. The survey found 16 percent of respondents said they were unsure, while 30 percent said he wouldn’t be a good senator.

Scott can’t run for re-election again in 2018 because of term limits. While he’s been mum on his future political plans, many Florida insiders believe he is gearing up to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018.

Scott’s political committee — Let’s Get to Work — continues to raise money, raising nearly $1.9 million in the first seven months of 2016. He’s also become the chairman of a pro-Donald Trump super PAC, giving a larger presence on the national stage.

With Scott vacating the governor’s mansion in a few years, speculation has already begun about who will replace the Naples Republican come 2018.

While Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is widely believed to be gearing up for a 2018 gubernatorial run, other possible contenders include CFO Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi, House Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran, and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and a Florida resident.

When it comes to the governor’s race, 37 percent of likely Republican primary voters said they would vote for Huckabee; while 26 percent said they would pick Bondi. Nearly 8 percent of voters said they would pick Putnam, while nearly 7 percent said they would vote for Atwater.

About 1 percent of voters said they would vote for Corcoran, 3 percent said they would pick former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, and less 1 percent said they would vote for former House Speaker Will Weatherford.

Seven percent of voters polled said they would vote for someone else. And with more than two years until the election, 12 percent of respondents said they were unsure who they would vote for.

The survey was conducted Aug. 2, and polled 1,835 likely Republican primary voters through an automated calling system. Voters were chosen at random from the state’s registered voting lists. The margin of error is 2.3 percent.

 

Florida Republicans disagree with Donald Trump, but still back him

Top Florida Republicans are distancing themselves from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump‘s comments about an American Muslim family whose son was killed in Iraq.

But so far, none of the top elected Republicans in the state have dropped their support of Trump, or even criticized him as sharply as some other Republicans have in the last few days.

Still, there are signs of growing discomfort even among some of his most ardent supporters.

Right now it’s not clear if any prominent Florida Republicans plan to join him when Trump does a campaign swing through Florida on Wednesday. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who spoke at the Republican National Convention, is hosting events in the Panhandle, including a meeting to discuss battling the Zika virus.

“It’s hard,” said Jeff Atwater, the state’s chief financial officer and one of three statewide elected officials on the Florida Cabinet. “Because I don’t appreciate this kind of tone, rhetoric and commentary that he’s offering.”

Trump has been feuding for days with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Muslim family whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004. At last week’s Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan criticized Trump’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States and accused Trump of sacrificing “nothing and no one.”

In response, Trump said he was “viciously attacked” by Khizr Khan and implied that Ghazala Khan, the soldier’s mother, stood silently alongside her husband during the speech because, as a Muslim, she was restricted her from speaking. The comments have drawn rebukes from both Democrats and Republicans such as U.S. Sen. John McCain, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization called them “out of bounds.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who endorsed Trump before the March presidential primary, called Capt. Khan an “American hero” and added: “Would I have ever said anything about his mother standing up their silent, not saying anything? Absolutely not.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam echoed Bondi’s comments about Khan and said “any comments to the contrary are dishonorable and abhorrent.”

The cautious reaction by some of Florida’s top GOP elected officials is a contrast to people such as former Gov. Jeb Bush, who has refused to endorse Trump. Sally Bradshaw, a north Florida resident and one of Bush’s top political advisers, recently changed parties and said this week that she may vote for Hillary Clinton if the election is close.

Scott, who recently agreed to become chairman of a super PAC backing Trump, as well as all three Cabinet members said they still intend to vote for Trump. Atwater, citing the investigation into Clinton’s emails, said Trump was the “better candidate.”

Scott, who served in the U.S. Navy, would not comment directly on Trump’s comments and instead said Tuesday that “I’m never going to agree with every candidate on what they are going to say.” He praised Trump as someone “who believes in our military.”

When asked if Trump should apologize, as Scott said: “You can talk to Donald Trump. I just can tell you from my standpoint I’m [appreciative] of everybody that served.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Mike Huckabee for Florida Governor?

Mike Huckabee for Governor (of Florida)?

The former Arkansas governor and two-time Republican presidential hopeful is said to be eyeing a run for the governor’s mansion in 2018. That’s what two prominent Florida Republicans with statewide cachet (one a top-ranking lobbyist, the other a well-known member of the Florida Legislature) have told FloridaPolitics.com in recent days.

Although its difficult to game-out a path to victory for Huckabee, the former presidential candidate has taken an active role in Panhandle politics, endorsing Matt Gaetz for Congress and getting linked to a political committee in Walton County.

Gaetz, who recently attended a fundraiser with Huckabee and said he has not heard any “Huckabee in 2018” rumors, thinks highly of his north Florida neighbor.

“Mike Huckabee is beloved in Northwest Florida,” said Gaetz. “He could count on a lot of support from this area if (he) were to seek public office again.”

Continued Gaetz, “He is the conscience of the Republican Party.”

Huckabee, who lives in the Panhandle, served as the governor of Arkansas from 1996 until 2007. He was one of the longest serving governors in the state’s history, and, according to his website, he left a legacy of “tax cuts, jobs creation, the reconstruction of his state’s road system,” and education reforms.

He first ran for president in 2008, where he was heralded as a conservative champion. He lost the nomination bid to John McCain, but kept a high profile in the years that followed. He hosted his own Fox News show, and wrote a dozen books over the years.

Huckabee decided to give it another go in 2016, but didn’t make as much of an impact as he did eight years earlier. He dropped out of the race in February, after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses.

He has remained politically active, though. So far this year, his political committee has given $12,000 to campaigns. That sum includes a $1,000 contribution to Matt Gaetz’s congressional campaign. Huckabee endorsed Gaetz in Florida’s 1st Congressional District this week.

If he were take the plunge (and win), Huckabee would follow Sam Houston to be the second governor elected in two states.

Andrew Gillum addresses Florida Democrats before his big moment at the DNC

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is scheduled to address the Democratic National Convention Wednesday (time uncertain), and he showed his much-touted speaking skills while addressing the Florida Democratic Delegation breakfast, just hours before his appearance.

“If you blink you’ll miss it,” Gillum joked about the length of his scheduled address (which reportedly will call for healing between the black community and law enforcement, according to the Tallahassee Democrat), he focused his 10-minute-plus speech on the DNC’s narrative being pushed from the Clinton camp on down of being “stronger, together.”

That included teachers who encouraged him to take honors classes and aspire to attend college.

“We can take the power of affirming and reminding people that right where they are is everything that they need to get to where they’re trying to go, and I think that’s the story of the Democratic Party,” he said.

And Gillum instructed the delegates that the parties and the breakfasts and networking that happen at a political convention are wonderful, it doesn’t matter much to the people they purport to represent back home. And, he said, the Democrats’ message is not one of dependence, but of giving a helping hand.

“If the people out on the street don’t know why it’s import to vote for Democrats, if people out in the street don’t realize how hard we’re working for them … not to enable them, but just to lift the ladder down a little bit lower so everybody can jump on. Right? That’s our job. We’ve got to communicate when we get home. Stronger together means I can’t do it by myself.”

Gillum dissed Adam Putnam for saying people had a choice to vote for Donald Trump in November.

“I actually had a higher level of respect for him prior to that,” Gillum said. “Because I see other Republicans say country first. Because under no unbiased metrics is Donald Trump ready to be president of the United States.”

1 million signed up for ‘Do Not Call’ list

One million phone numbers now are on the state’s Do Not Call List, which restricts telemarketers and others from making sales calls to Floridians.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s office announced the news Tuesday.

Of those, 928,000 were added since “Putnam worked with the Legislature in 2012 to remove the fee to join,” according to a press release.

The list makes it “illegal for solicitors to call or text numbers on the state’s Do Not Call List, with penalties of up to $10,000 per violation,” the release said.

To get on the list, visit FreshFromFlorida.com, or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352). Spanish speakers should call 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

Each subscriber can enter six phone numbers that will remain active on the list for five years, the release said.

Richard Corcoran for Governor in 2018?

While Florida’s delegates to the Republican National Convention noshed on a Tuesday morning breakfast fit for a Hubert Mizell column — chicken & waffles, honestly cheesy grits, and cinnamon sticky buns — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam extolled on the virtues of living under GOP rule in the Sunshine State.

“The economy was in the tank, and we had more and more regulations stacked onto one another,” he said. “We’re always one election away from that. That’s why these campaigns count, because Illinois and New York and even Ohio, as hard as they’re trying to dig out from the hole they’ve been put in—and, heaven knows, California—I mean, they’re lost causes.

“The unfunded pension liability in Illinois is bigger than the Florida budget, and the Florida budget is half the size of the New York budget, and you wonder why they’re in the mess they’re in,” he added.

On the other hand, Florida’s success is “because of a sustained, conservative approach to governing.”

Clearly, those words are a stump speech in the making. It’s widely expected that Putnam will run for Florida governor in 2018. Heck, he’s running already.

He’s raising money (almost $5 million worth). He’s hosting campaign rallies. He’s even airing campaign-esque videos.

The only things left to do before Putnam officially becomes a gubernatorial candidate is filing paperwork with the Division of Elections and printing bumper stickers.

Tuesday’s breakfast at the RNC was another opportunity for Putnam to move closer to the day when he files that paperwork. Everyone in attendance knew that; most there are supportive.

“It sort of laid the foundation of what his intentions are, as if everyone in Florida didn’t know,” Republican state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez of Miami told the Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei.

So, no, it’s not really a surprise to see Putnam begin to reveal his 2018 plans. But, it should be noted, Putnam’s not the only possible Florida gubernatorial contender in Cleveland right now.

Florida House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran is also in the Rock n’ Roll Capital Of The World, and increasingly it appears the Pasco County Republican is interested in a 2018 gubernatorial run.

Speaking with a variety of sources close to the tight-lipped Corcoran — including current and former lawmakers, key staffers, and prominent lobbyists who have all spoken directly with Corcoran about his political future — the incoming Speaker is not yet ruling out a run for the Governor’s Mansion.

Corcoran has not come close to saying that he would run, but he has made it clear he does not mind having his name included in the conversation.

As intelligent and talented a political operative as Corcoran is, one of the first questions that comes to mind when gaming out a possible candidacy is: In what lane would he run? Is there room for him in 2018?

There’s Putnam, who has already lined up so much of the GOP establishment. But there’s also former Speaker Will Weatherford, who is contemplating a 2018 bid.

There’s a host of Democrats, some with crossover appeal, who will throw their hats into the 2018 ring. And since this is Florida, you can count on two other types of candidates emerging in 2018: The surprise contenders who no one sees coming (à la Rick Scott) and the self-funding candidates who have no problem blowing $10-$20 million on a statewide campaign (see Jeff GreeneCarlos Beruff).

Somewhere in there, Corcoran has to find a lane to run in.

One possible scenario has Corcoran becoming a serious contender if he is able to clean the Augean Stables that are Tallahassee.

Once the ultimate insider, Corcoran has laid out an ambitious agenda to reform the way the Legislature does business.

“We must close the revolving door between the Legislature and the lobby corps,” Corcoran said at his designation speech. “We need to restore the distance between those who seek to influence the laws and those of us who make the laws.”

Corcoran, whose brother Michael is a prominent state lobbyist, called for a constitutional amendment banning “any state elected official from lobbying the legislative or executive branch for a period of six years.”

Corcoran also wants to toughen lobbyist registration rules by requiring lobbyists to specifically “disclose which bills, which amendments and which appropriations they are trying to influence.”

“Other states require such disclosure,” he said. “It’s time Florida does too.”

Corcoran said he will also push legislation “banning elected officials from taking jobs in government, unless elected by the people, for a period of six years after they leave office” and forbidding lawmakers from taking “a job while in office with any company or group that receives any funding from the state, directly or indirectly.”

Were Corcoran to accomplish all of this, he would have one of the most impressive legacies of any modern House Speaker.

Yet, therein lies the rub.

Florida’s political history is littered with the hopes and dreams of House Speakers and Senate Presidents who had their eyes on statewide office. Yes, a House Speaker can raise a boatload of money from the lobbyists whose livelihood depends on their thumbs up/thumbs down, but wouldn’t it be hypocritical for Corcoran to raise money for a gubernatorial bid from the lobby corps he hopes to rein in?

One former lawmaker with whom FloridaPolitics.com spoke suggested Corcoran is sacrificing “half of his agenda” by allowing others to speculate that he will run for governor in 2018.

Then again, former House Speaker Dean Cannon said if any legislative leader could make the leap to statewide office, it’s Corcoran.

“The sheer breadth of his intelligence and his deep background working at all levels of Florida government make the Speaker-designate instantly credible for a statewide run in 2018,” said Cannon, who said he will support Putnam for governor.

But these are ordinary concerns for ordinary leaders. Corcoran has shown himself to be something different.

He’s regarded as the most powerful incoming Speaker of the Republican era. His legislative lieutenants and political allies are the most loyal in The Process. Corcoran, even by the political adversaries he’s crushed, is regarded as brilliant and principled.

“If Richard were to consider one day running for governor, he will be one of the most qualified individuals to do so in recent years,” said Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, who served with Corcoran in the Florida House and has been both a mentor and intellectual sounding board for years. “In addition to his legal and professional background, his personal humility and understanding of the human side of the political process have all equipped him for such a challenge.”

What’s attractive about Corcoran as a gubernatorial candidate, Fasano said, is that he’s not one to seek the spotlight, “instead he’s more concerned with solving a problem rather than getting publicity for doing so.”

If Corcoran really does want to run for governor, he will have to get over being so press-averse. As much as being self-effacing is a credit to his character, it may hinder him from winning higher office. And he also has a long way to go before he catches up with the well-laid plans of Adam Putnam.

Perhaps Corcoran should start by hosting breakfast for everyone.

Bill Rufty: Tidbits from the Republican National Convention

RuftyFlorida’s Republican National Committeeman Peter Feaman, who sits on the Rules Committee, told the Florida delegation Tuesday he had never seen such careful cooperation between Republican National Committee representatives and a candidate’s representatives coming before the committee Monday.

The RNC and the Trump representatives were on the same page.

Usually, the candidate and the RNC can be at odds as to some of the rules, but not Monday, and not at this convention.

“That’s what pushed many away from (the Stop Trump) forces wanting to throw out the rules of a binding first-round vote,” said Dena DeCamp, a Florida delegate and president of the Florida Federation of Republican Women.

***

There is no election Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam can run in this year, but it sure seemed like he was campaigning with friends from Florida in Cleveland Monday night.

Putnam’s desire to run for governor in 2018 likely is the biggest open secret in the state this decade. Monday night he hosted a private dinner for 15 Floridians, many from his home in Polk County. He talked, and the Florida friends thanked him for his years of service.

And did he mention a run for governor in two years?

“No, but everybody else did,” said Dena DeCamp. “We were all urging him to run, and it is something we all want to happen.”

Tuesday morning Putnam hosted a Taste of Florida breakfast for the entire delegation, with speakers including former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, former Congressman Allen West and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton from Arkansas.

And what is a Taste of Florida breakfast?

Why, lots of fruit and chicken and waffles with cheese grits, of course.

Chuck Clemons endorsed by Ted Yoho in race for HD 21

Florida House District 21 candidate Chuck Clemons scored an endorsement Friday from Rep. Ted Yoho, who currently serves Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.

Yoho praised Clemons’ conservative politics, saying there was no doubt he’d be great in the Legislature.

“There is no question that Chuck Clemons will be an outstanding conservative in the Florida House,” Yoho said. “He’s got deep roots in our community and a long record of public service that have prepared him to effectively represent us in Tallahassee. I plan to vote for him, and I look forward to having such a strong leader for our area in Tallahassee.”

Yoho has served in Congress since 2012, and passing several bills that focus on strengthening America.

Clemons called him a “strong leader.”

“I am honored to have the support of a strong leader like Ted Yoho,” he said. “I share his commitment to the principles of liberty and limited government, and I look forward to working with him as we both serve the residents of North Central Florida.”

Clemons also recently secured the endorsement of Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.

In the race for HD 21, Clemons is up against Republicans Wenda Lewis and Tim Rogers and Democrat Marihelen Wheeler.

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