Adam Putnam Archives - Page 7 of 53 - Florida Politics

Republicans, agencies welcome Rick Scott’s budget

Gov. Rick Scott’s new $87.4 billion proposed budget has been welcomed by some major Republicans and state agencies.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who pushed legislation combating the Governor’s job incentives and tourism priorities last year, said he welcomes working with Scott to do what “is right for Florida taxpayers.”

“We are confident that together with the Governor and Senate we can produce a budget that cuts taxes, imposes accountability and transparency and ensures the future fiscal health of the state,” Corcoran said in a statement.

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) sang praise for the Governor’s proposed budget, which includes a $10 million investment for an additional 130 child protective investigators and Florida Abuse Hotline counselors, $2.2 million to expand care for victims of human trafficking and $15 million to enhance substance abuse service capacity statewide, along with other items helpful to DCF’s core mission of protecting the vulnerable.

“Governor Scott’s proposed budget shows his commitment to Florida’s most vulnerable citizens and the importance of providing resources to allow DCF to ensure the health and safety of Florida’s families,” said DCF Secretary Mike Carroll in a statement.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam thanked Scott for his proposed raises to wildland firefighters and law enforcement officers. The proposed budget specifies $2.4 million for a 10 percent raise to all Florida Forest Service Firefighters.

“These proposed raises will help us recruit and retain the best law enforcement officers and wildland firefighters to keep Floridians and visitors safe,” Putnam said.

The Florida Department of State (DOS) — with nearly half a million dollars and five staff positions proposed on the budget to create a cyber-security section for mission critical systems and $14.3 million in grant funding for cultural, historical and library grant programs — also lauded Scott.

“Governor Scott’s commitment to investments in library grants, cultural programs, and historic preservation support cultural heritage tourism and economic development, ensuring Florida continues to be one of the world’s best places to live and visit for generations to come,” Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said.

The Florida Department of Education applauded Scott, too. K-12 public schools received a proposed budget of $21.4 billion in state and local funding, an increase of $769.6 million; Florida colleges received $1.24 billion in state operating funds, an increase of $31.9 million; College students got a proposed continuation of  Bright Futures’ funding for 100 percent of Florida Academic Scholars’ fees and tuition.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the proposed budget demonstrates Scott’s dedication to Florida students.

“This continued investment in our state’s public education system will help to maintain the momentum to the benefit of current and future generations,” Stewart said.

But, despite the praise from his party colleagues and agencies, the term-limited Republican Governor hasn’t won the hearts of Florida Democrats.

The Florida Democratic party denounced the budget as “self-serving politics”

“At every turn, Scott is proving he’s only ever looking out for himself,” the Democratic Party of Florida said in a statement. “And he can’t run away from seven years of budgets that have left hardworking Floridians worse off than when he took office.”

Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum called the budget an attempt to “cover up seven years of failed policies.”

“Budgets reflect our values, and for seven years we’ve seen just what the Governor’s values are: cuts on top of cuts to programs that are critical for working families,” Gillum said.

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, who also is a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, pointed to the budget as last-ditch effort to make up for prior education cuts.

“In his first year as governor, Scott cut more than $1 billion from Florida’s schools and we still haven’t recovered from those massive cut,” Graham said. “Adjusted for inflation, per-student funding would still be less under Rick Scott’s new budget than it was when he took office.”

Official Florida House photo

Frank White makes financial splash in Cabinet race

Bolstered by $1.5 million of his own money, state Rep. Frank White in less than a month has made it a three-way race – in terms of money – among the Republicans seeking to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi next year.

Meanwhile, in the race to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, two lawmakers outpaced their rivals in October fundraising.

And state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who is running for a full term after being appointed to the Cabinet post in June, picked up $431,100 in October for his political committee.

With the 2018 general election a year away, state candidates and political committees faced a Monday deadline for filing reports showing finance activity through October.

White, a Pensacola Republican first elected to the House in 2016, posted $1.65 million in contributions in October, with $1.5 million of that coming from the candidate himself.

White had $1.73 million on hand in his campaign account to begin November in a GOP primary contest that also includes Rep. Jay Fant of Jacksonville and Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County circuit judge.

Besides his personal contributions, White picked up $51,000 from the Sansing family and their auto dealerships via 17 separate $3,000 contributions. White is chief financial officer and general counsel for the Sansing Dealer Group, a group of dealerships in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

The influx of cash put White’s fundraising total ahead of the $1.2 million collected the past five months by Moody for her campaign account and the political committee Friends of Ashley Moody.

Moody, who received $10,112 in October from the Republican Party of Florida through in-kind donations of campaign staffing, posted $105,490 in contributions last month for her campaign account and $43,000 for the political committee.

Fant, meanwhile, had the weakest fundraising month but has totaled just under $1.2 million for his personal account and an associated political committee known as Pledge This Day.

Fant’s war chest includes $750,000 of his own money that he put up in September.

Fant’s political committee didn’t bring in any money in October, while he picked up $12,358 for his personal campaign account.

Democratic candidate Ryan Torrens, an attorney from Hillsborough County, raised $9,934 in October. Since entering the contest on May 22, Torrens had raised a total of $49,106 while spending $42,401, as of Oct. 31.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Gwen Graham goes nuclear over recovery fees, fracking fees

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham wants to put a stop to Florida utility ratepayers paying for nuclear power  plants that were never built or which never worked, or for paying for fracking exploration in Florida.

The former congresswoman from Tallahassee went nuclear Tuesday denouncing the 2006 law that allowed Florida investor-owned utility companies to charge advance fees for nuclear power plants that were never built, something that the Florida Public Service Commission has allowed, to the tune of more than $3 million in fees, she said. She charged that the commission is out of control.

Her statement Tuesday in some ways echoes that made last month by her rival for the Democratic primary nomination, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who welcomed her on board the position Tuesday, yet also said “it feels like an election year conversion” for Graham.

Graham faces Democrats Gillum and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and Winter Park businessman Chris King in seeking the 2018 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor.

On Oct. 17, Gillum declared in a statement, “Instead of forcing everyday Floridians to continue ponying up money for Florida Power & Light, the PSC should instead force FPL to pay for their Turkey Point nuclear energy license. Working people in this state face enough financial hardships as it is — they should not have to fork over more money to an enormous corporation who controls most of the state’s major energy decisions. Corporations have run roughshod over this state for too long, and when I’m Governor it will finally end.”

On Tuesday, Graham also called for an end.

“Floridians should not be forced to pay for nuclear power plants that are never built or for fracking exploration,” Graham stated in a news release. “For 20 years, the Republican politicians in Tallahassee have turned a blind eye to the Public Service Commission and utility companies as they’ve taxed seniors, small business owners and families. That ends when I’m elected governor.”

She also criticized both Gov. Jeb Bush and current Gov. Rick Scott for what she said was stacking the commission with what she called “unqualified, industry-friendly commissioners.” She then went after Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the leading Republican gubernatorial candidate, for having voted for an unbuilt nuclear power plant while he was in Congress, and then go after likely Republican gubernatorial candidate House Speaker Richard Corcoran for appointing to the PSC nominating commission.

In 2015, the commission accepted a utilities’ request to allow the charges to Floridians as much as $500 million a year for natural gas fracking projects. The Florida Supreme Court ruled the commission exceeded its authority by approving it.

Now proposed legislation that would grant the commission new authority to charge what Graham called “the fracking tax.”

She pledged that as governor she would fight that and push for a statutory ban on any fracking tax.

“Rick Scott has appointed unqualified, industry-friendly commissioners. Adam Putnam voted to approve the construction of a $24-billion nuclear expansion that is unlikely to ever be built. As Speaker of the House, Richard Corcoran makes half of the appointments to the PSC Nominating Council — which has refused to consider consumer advocates for the PSC,” Graham said. “Their records make it clear that Corcoran and Putnam would continue to allow the Public Service Commission and utilities to charge Floridians with outrageous and unfair taxes.”

Corcoran’s office responded by saying he has six appointments to that commission, and they included Democratic House Leader Janet Cruz and consumer Ann Marie Ryan.

The watchdog group Integrity Florida recently labeled the PSC a “Captured Regulatory Agency,” asserting it has been captured under the influence of the very utilities it is responsible for regulating.

“The Public Service Commission is out of control. As governor, I will appoint consumer advocates who will vote in Floridians best interests — not the special interests,” Graham said. “I will fight to repeal the advanced nuclear recovery taxes and to ban utilities from ever charging customers a speculative fracking tax.”

Adam Putnam: Roy Moore accusations are ‘repulsive’

UPDATED

Agriculture Commissioner and GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam denounced U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, of Alabama, following reports that he had a sexual encounter with an underage girl nearly four decades ago.

“I find the accusations repulsive,” Putnam said in a statement. “I believe that for the good of the people of Alabama, Roy Moore should drop out of the race.”

Jacksonville area state Representative Jay Fant, a candidate for Attorney General, also weighed in on Monday.

“Sexual assault is a disgusting act that we shouldn’t take lightly,” Fant told Florida Politics. “Under our Constitution, Roy Moore is entitled to due process. But if these allegations are true, Roy Moore belongs in prison, not the U.S. Senate.”

Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody weighed in Tuesday morning.

“The allegations against Roy Moore are extremely serious,” she said. “If true, these allegations would not only warrant that he drop out of a political race, but more importantly, require that he be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I’m confident that our legal system and Constitution, which ensure a fair process for both the accused and accusers, will lead to the truth of these allegations and ensure justice is served.”

Putnam is the the most prominent member of the Florida Republican Party to denounce Moore’s plight. Former Governor Jeb Bush called early on Monday for Moore to drop out.

***Update – Tuesday 7:39 a.m.*** – Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran tweeted to Florida Politics, “As the father of two teenage girls, there can’t seriously be a question of my position. Roy Moore should step aside.”

“This is not a question of innocence or guilt like in a criminal proceeding, this is a question of what’s right and wrong,” Bush said in an interview with CNBCs Brian Sullivan. “Acknowledging that you’re dating teenagers when you’re 32 years old as an assistant state attorney is wrong. It’s just plain wrong.”

Bush’s comments came shortly after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in Louisville that he believed the women who told their stories about Moore to the Washington Post last week. Republican Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, also called for Moore to drop out of the race.

“We have to stand for basic principals, and decency has to be one of those,” Bush said on CNBC.

The former Governor also said the denouncements shouldn’t be partisan.

“When it happens to your team, you have an obligation to speak out as well,” Bush said during the CNBC interview.

Shortly after Bush made his remarks, a fifth woman came forward to accuse Moore of making sexual or romantic advances toward her when she was a teenager.

The new accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, said during a news conference in New York that Moore attacked her when she was 16 and he was a prosecutor in Etowah County, Alabama.

Florida Politics has reached out to other statewide running candidates Jack Latvala and Ashley Moody to get their thoughts on what Moore should do. This article will be updated with any future comments.

Compilation of Veterans Day messages from Florida’s elected officials and politicians

A compilation of Veterans Day messages from Florida’s elected officials and politicians —

Governor Rick Scott

As a Navy veteran myself, I am proud to honor our veterans by offering free entry to the best state park system in the nation. Our award-winning state parks offer countless of opportunities for families and friends to enjoy Florida’s natural treasures. This Veterans Day, I encourage all Florida residents and visitors to visit a state park and to recognize our military heroes for their selfless sacrifices.

In celebration of Veterans Day, several parks are hosting special events this weekend:

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is hosting Honoring Veterans: Past, Present and Future on Nov. 11, 2017.

Highlands Hammock State Park is hosting the 32nd Annual Civilian Conservation Corps Festival on Nov. 11, 2017.

Fort Clinch State Park is hosting History of the American Soldier on Nov. 11, 2017.

The Barnacle Historic State Park is hosting The Barnacle Under Moonlight Concert on Nov. 11, 2017.

Gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum:

Veterans Day is a day to recognize and honor our nation’s veterans. There are over 1.5 million veterans living here in Florida and the sacrifices they’ve made in order to protect us and our families deserve more thanks than we’ll ever be able to give them. It is on all of us to ensure that the brave men and women who serve in our military come home to a grateful nation and have the support and resources they need.

In 2012, Tallahassee became the first Capital Purple Heart City in the nation. From offering veterans free transportation to and from the VA Clinic, to honoring our Purple Heart recipients every year, I’ve been proud to continue and build on our City’s commitment to our veterans.

And, as Governor, I will continue to do that by ensuring physical and mental health care and job-training opportunities are available for all of our veterans. So, while today is set aside as a special day to honor and recognize all of the sacrifices that veterans made for us, we must continue to fight to make every day like Veterans Day.

Gubernatorial candidate and former Congresswoman Gwen Graham:

Gubernatorial candidate and Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine:

Gubernatorial candidate and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam:

State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto:

On this Veterans Day, I urge my fellow Floridians to take a moment to express gratitude to the brave men and women who are serving or have served in the United States Armed Forces. Whether veterans of wartime or of peacetime, those drafted or who volunteered, those who have fallen or those with us today, these American heroes have selflessly put the welfare of our nation above their own.

The Legislature has continued to work hard to make sure veterans in Florida receive the respect, services, and gratitude they so richly deserve. We are committed to continuing Florida’s tradition as the ‘Welcome Home’ state for veterans and their families.

Please join me in thanking our service men and women, as well as their families, for the sacrifices they have made in responding to the call of duty, protecting us from threats to our freedom, and defending our liberty.

State Sen. René Garcia:

State Sen. Debbie Mayfield:

State Sen. Keith Perry:

State Rep. Cord Byrd:

State Rep. Bob Cortes:

State Rep. Nicholas Duran:

State Rep. Jason Fischer:

State Rep. Manny Diaz Jr.:

State Rep. Dane Eagle:

On Saturday we celebrate the legacy of men and women who have sacrificed so much in service to America. They are the veterans of America’s armed forces. They have granted us our liberty and continue to do so. These great men and women – our sons, our daughters, our mothers and fathers – have fought for our country with a fearless mindset, going into enemy territories without knowledge of when or if they would ever return. These heroes surrendered their freedoms so that we may keep our own.  As the United People of this great country, we must thank those who have served. We must recognize the colossal sacrifice they have made.

Many of our Veterans have suffered physical and mental trials, some even losing their lives in the line of duty, but their sacrifice is not futile, for we, the American people, remember.

We remember the First Army, the soldiers who waged war against the British troops and granted us our independence. We remember the Great American Civil War and our triumph during World War II. We remember the fight against the communist powers during the Korean War and again in the Vietnam War. We remember those who were sent overseas to serve in Afghanistan, leaving their friends, families, and loved ones behind.

Most importantly, we remember those who have perished. We remember the millions and millions of soldiers who have lost their lives in the making of our great country. We remember their courageous acts, the very acts that have made the United States of America the commanding and powerful country it is today. We must never forget what they have done.

Not only do we honor those in our history, but we honor those who continue to serve. Our Veterans uphold characteristics that the people of the United States value. Characteristics such as valor, integrity, humility, strength, and fortitude are qualities that live in the mentality of each and every Veteran, but while our Veterans share the same abilities, they are not one in the same. They come from various backgrounds, upbringings, and circumstances. They are of different religions, race, and economic standing. They mirror the diversity that is the United States of America; they are us.

Veterans Day gives us the opportunity to do something we should do each and every day: give thanks. We should give thanks to the men and women who wear a service uniform. We should give thanks to their families and offer them our thoughts and prayers. Through our words and actions, we should tell the families of injured and fallen veterans their loved ones have the gratitude of our nation, our state, and our communities. For theirs is a noble and lasting legacy that serves as the cornerstone of our American character.

State Rep. Joe Geller

I want to take a moment to honor all  of our veterans who have served our great country. A heartfelt thank you goes out to the veterans that have made the ultimate sacrifice so we can live in the great nation that we do, and to all those who served.

State Rep. Bill Hager:

State Rep. Shawn Harrison:

State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia:

State Rep. Shevrin Jones:

State Rep. Wengay Newton:

State House candidate Ardian Zika:

More hits to citrus: Forecast portends further decrease

As Florida’s citrus industry “seeks consideration for federal emergency funding,” a U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast Thursday “confirmed a continuing decline in production due to Hurricane Irma’s impact on this season’s crop,” the Florida Department of Citrus said in a press release.

“The report predicts Florida orange production for 2017-18 at 50 million boxes of oranges, a 27 percent decrease over last season,” it said. “Florida grapefruit is expected to produce 4.65 million boxes, a decrease of 40 percent.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the last decrease we see,” said Shannon Shepp, the department’s executive director.

The monthly forecasts are best guesses; the real numbers come after the growing season ends. It’s those figures that tell the story of citrus in Florida.

The state’s citrus industry also has been hit by the citrus greening epidemic. The so-far incurable disease attacks the fruit, causing it to turn green and bitter, and eventually killing the tree.

“Hurricane Irma had widespread impact on our industry and growers are still trying to pick up the pieces,” Shepp added. “High winds and flooding rains damaged already weakened trees making it even more difficult to hold on to the fruit that’s left.

“Luckily, Florida citrus growers are a resilient group of hardworking individuals and I know they’ll find a way to carry on like they always do.”

In a separate statement, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam later said the “lowered forecast shows that the damage to Florida citrus from Hurricane Irma is still unfolding.”

“And it will continue to for some time,” Putnam said. “Florida’s growers need support and they need it fast. I will continue to work with Gov. (Rick) Scott and leaders in Washington to get Florida’s growers the support and relief they need to rebuild as quickly as possible.”

Here’s more from the Department of Citrus release:

Florida growers reported 30 to 70 percent crop loss after Hurricane Irma’s landfall on Sept. 10, with the southwest region of the state receiving the most damage.

The hurricane uprooted trees and left many groves sitting in standing water for up to three weeks, potentially damaging the root systems.

In October, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that Florida citrus sustained more than $760 million in damages due to Hurricane Irma. Those numbers are expected to grow as the season continues.

Rick Scott refuses to play pundit over GOP’s bad night

If Rick Scott runs for the U.S. Senate next year (as nearly everyone in Florida politics expects), he will have to deal with Donald Trump and his sagging poll numbers.

But less than 48 hours after Democrats posted big wins across the country Tuesday, the Republican governor shows no appetite to analyze the results of the off-year elections.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of pundits that are going to talk about things like that,” Scott said during an appearance at Weather Tite Windows, a West Tampa window and door replacement company. “I’ve got 424 days to go on my job.”

He then launched a litany of talking points, which could very well transfer to a stump speech next year: “My focus is to make this the number one place for jobs, the number one place for education, and a place where people are safe. We’re at forty-six year low in our crime rate. Our higher education system just got ranked the best in the entire country.”

That last comment referred to U.S. News and World Report ranking Florida as the best state in the nation for higher education, with its relatively low tuition rate for colleges and universities and how more than half of students who seek a two-year degree either graduated on time or within three years.

Another Republican aspiring to a statewide ballot next year is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. This week, the Republican gubernatorial candidate showed no reluctance to weigh in on the election.

“We are at a crossroads. Make no mistake. Look what happened in Virginia and New Jersey” Putnam said Wednesday in Winter Park. “There should be a sense of urgency about this election. Not complacency,

Scott’s main purpose for visiting Tampa was to tout his proposed $180 million in cuts to taxes and fees for 2018, his last year in office. His plan includes a mixture of license fee reductions, reducing traffic fines for drivers who attend a basic driver-improvement school after getting a ticket and a 10-day tax holiday on school supplies and clothes.

Many expect Scott will challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in his re-election bid next year. On hand to observe the event was Ryan Patmintra, who earlier in the week was named Florida political director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Puerto Rico leaders say evacuees’ needs may last years; Adam Putnam pledges help

The influx of Puerto Rican refugees to Florida may reach the hundreds of thousands, many might stay, and the need to help them recover from Hurricane Maria and assimilate could take years as the commonwealth slowly recovers from the devastation, a group of Central Florida Puerto Rican leaders told Adam Putnam Wednesday.

And the Republican gubernatorial candidate pledged them his help.

Meeting at the Puerto Rico Family Response Center in eastern Orange County, LatinoLeadership Executive Director Marucci Guzman, her husband state Rep. Rene Plasencia, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Julio Fuentes, Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke, and others, Putnam commended Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to help Puerto Rico, but added that “we have a whole new crisis that needs to be dealt with right here in our backyard in Central Florida.”

The center, established by LatinoLeadership, is providing first-contact responses for Puerto Rico evacuees arriving in Central Florida, either through its desk at the airport or its East Orange location, to help them connect with housing, food, clothing, education, health care and other needs. Estimates offered now top 120,000 Puerto Ricans who have arrived since Oct. 1, mostly in Central Florida, and Guzman, Plasencia, and Fuentes offered that this is only the beginning.

“We need to keep in mind this is an issue that’s ongoing. It’s not just a month ago, it’s not just right now, but it’s going to be a three or four or five year-long process. We don’t know how long it’s going to take Puerto Rico to rebuild, but we do know is we have hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who are looking to us here in Florida, to possibly call this their new home,” said Plasencia, a Republican from Orlando. “And we have to make sure we’re doing everything we can both as communities,whether  as community leaders, as faith leaders, or as just regular citizens who are opening our homes, but also as political leaders who have the power to make things more efficient and the transition more fluid.”

Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate, toured the center, and praised the volunteers “who are working tirelessly to welcome our neighbors and fellow Americans who are at one of the darkest points in their lives.”

With state Sen. Jack Latvala‘s gubernatorial campaign and legislative career in jeopardy due to sexual misconduct allegations, Putnam is currently the only major Republican running. Democrats running include Gwen Graham, who last month had volunteered to help with Puerto Rican assistance at another center, the Acacia Florida Puerto Rican Center about a half-mile down the street, Chris King, Philip Levine, and Andrew Gillum.

Putnam promised to take the concerns he heard at the Puerto Rico Family Response Center, and the model of non-profit assistance he observed, back to the state Capitol.

“This is ground zero. This is the Puerto Rican embassy in Central Florida,” Putnam said of the center. “The word is out. This is where people come when they come to Florida. They come straight here. This is not a glitzy, high-profile government agency. There’re no acronyms. They’re not worried about what their reimbursement rates will be from the Stafford Act [which created FEMA.] This is food goes on the pantry, and the next morning a family goes in and gets the food to feed their family, which they haven’t done in 48 days…. That’s the beauty of what’s going on here: this is really charity in action. This is faith in action. And this is Americans doing what we do best, which is look out for our fellow neighbor.”

He urged people to bring donations over, or to volunteer.

And Putnman said he expects the Florida Legislature to take up the Puerto Rico evacuees’ cause in the upcoming Legislative Session. Among others, state Rep. Bob Cortes, a Republican from Altamonte Springs, is writing a bill to address housing needs for evacuees, as well as the broader shortage of affordable housing in the state.

Putnam said the affordable housing issue predates the hurricanes, and noted places in Florida such as Everglades City and the Florida Keys have major housing shortages now.

“As a state I think it’s important for us to continue to remove any obstacles or red tape that would prevent families to adapting to the new normal in their time of crisis,” Putnam said. “If you have a professional license in Puerto Rico there ought to be minimum interference to using a professional license in the state of Florida. “So I think it’s important that as a state we not allow disaster fatigue creep into our mindset, because there still are thousands of families seeking shelter in our state.”

Fuentes said the estimates of Puerto Rican evacuees could range up to 300,000, representing a true crisis. “Whatever that number is, it’s a lot,” he said. He said Orlando is the center for Puerto Rican migration, but “we are seeing this now in other parts of the state, in Miami, in Tampa and in Jacksonville.”

 

Adam Putnam sees wake-up call in Virginia elections

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam sees a wake-up call in the Democrats’ victories in Tuesday night’s elections in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere and declared Wednesday that it’s a call for a campaign to convince grassroots voters that the state’s conservative-principaled prosperity is at stake.

“We are at a crossroads. Make no mistake. Look what happened in Virginia and New Jersey. There should be a sense of urgency about this election. Not complacency,” Putnam told an Up and Adam gathering at a Winter Park restaurant Wednesday morning. “The inertia is for Florida to be more like New York than like Texas. The inertia is for the left to hijack our elections in Florida.”

Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, is honing his message to be that of continuing and building upon the conservative leadership he says Gov. Rick Scott has used to make the state’s economy the envy of the nation. At The Coop, a southern-cooking themed restaurant from John Rivers, Putnam continued his call for aggressive support for technical education, saying community colleges and trade schools have gotten “a stick in the eye” from the Florida Legislature in recent years. And he continued his assaults on liberals he says are out to turn Florida into a liberal bastion yet economic basket case like Illinois.

Yet, drawing on lessons he sees in Tuesday’s off-year elections as potential signaling a Democratic resurrection, Putnam also stressed the need to remind voters of the Republican’s accomplishments in Florida, and to get them out to vote to continue the program.

With the hobbling of state Sen. Jack Latvala from an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct, Putnam, of Bartow, now stands as the only serious Republican officially seeking the governor’s office in 2018, though he has to keep an eye out for potential candidacies of Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. The Democrats, meanwhile, have four major candidates in the race, former state Rep. Gwen Graham, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King, whose office is within easy walking distance of The Coop.

“There’s certainly a wake-up call here,” Putnam said after his 20-minute speech. “People are fed up with an absence of results in Washington. People were sent to fix our health care system, reform our tax code, and there’s just, there’s no results. It’s a warning against being complacent on turnout.

“But every election, every campaign is local. And you look at the strength of Florida’s economy, the growth in the number of jobs we have here, I think Floridians are looking for a governor who is going to build on our economic progress and give young people the the skills to stay in Florida and succeed,” he added.

He urged the gathering of about 50 people at The Coop to get engaged in his campaign and stay engaged, and to work to convince the conservative grassroots to vote, lest Florida see Virginia’s experience.

“And if we don’t get engaged, then you will have a sanctuary state. You will have an erosion of gun laws. And you will have the types of high taxes and bloated bureaucracy that is driving people from Chicago and New York in droves to our states,” Putnam said. “So don’t let Florida become more like New York and Illinois. We’ve got to fight in this election for the future of our grandkids. We’ve got to fight for a stronger, better Florida, in our infrastructure, in workforce development, and in a pro-business environment that we know Florida can be. That is our challenge in 2018. And that is my vision as your next governor.”

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