Adam Putnam Archives - Page 7 of 29 - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: Jackie Toledo would be better off talking kitchen counter issues than immigration

Jackie Toledo has made the repeal of some immigration reforms a centerpiece of her campaign against Rebecca Smith for the House District 60 seat in next week’s Republican primary.

In a recent mailer to voters, she vowed to seek the repeal of a Republican-passed law that grant in-state college tuition to what she called “illegal immigrants.” She also wants to repeal a measure that makes it possible for undocumented immigrants to obtain a law license.

It’s an interesting gambit for Toledo, who first made her political name by losing a close and controversial 2015 race for the Tampa City Council.

She likely faces a tough fight this time, too. Smith, who founded the A.D. Morgan Corp., has high-powered endorsements from Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee, and former Gov. Bob Martinez.

The winner of this primary faces Democrat David Singer in November.

The district they all want to represent covers a large part of south Tampa and extends to parts of Ruskin in southern Hillsborough County and, I believe, comes with a lot of misconceptions about its makeup.

The district includes Plant High School, generally considered one of the best and more upscale public high schools in the county. Less known, though, is that 22 percent of its students receive free or reduced lunches.

It is one of six schools in south Tampa where a volunteer group known as “End 68 Hours of Hunger” is working to provide meals for hungry families over the weekend, when schools are closed.

Also, south Tampa is notorious for bad flooding and traffic. While some of that is a city problem, Toledo has an extensive background in traffic engineering and management that could be useful in solving a long-term problem in the district.

Think people in south Tampa would welcome some help from Tallahassee with that?

Being a state representative is mostly about seeking solutions for the pressing needs of your district. A lot of it is what Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn calls “infrastructure work” and it can be tedious.

It also often flies below the headline-writers’ radar, but it’s vital and it is why voters send candidates to the Legislature. They know who is in there getting things done for them. That’s why an argument about everyday concerns like jobs and transportation might sell better to voters than more pointed fingers with a jag on immigration.

In her unsuccessful race for city hall, Toledo outspent opponent Guido Maniscalco by about 3-to-1 and ran an unusually negative campaign for a council seat. Despite wide criticism for her tactics, she lost by just 151 votes in a runoff after Maniscalco went door-to-door around his Seminole Heights neighborhood in the closing days.

The lesson is that while sweeping issues like immigration might grab headlines, voters tend to pick candidates who can get basics accomplished for them and their neighbors.

Publix: Where shopping — and making hefty political contributions — are a pleasure

Publix Supermarkets has given nearly $2.6 million to Florida candidates and committees during the 2016 election cycle, including more than $300,000 since the start of August.

Among the Lakeland-based company’s most recent contributions were a $100,000 check to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and an additional $150,000 payment to the group’s “Florida Jobs” political committee.

Adam Putnam’s “Florida Grown” political committee also picked up $50,000 from the supermarket chain, with another $6,000 in August contributions heading to the campaign accounts of candidates for the Florida Legislature.

The August contributions make for $882,500 in donations to the Florida Chamber and its committees this cycle, while the contribution to Putnam’s committee makes for $160,000 since he won re-election two years ago.

Since Election Day 2014, Republicans have earned more of Publix’s dollars than Democrats. GOP candidates have taken in $65,000 in direct contributions since November 2014, compared to $27,500 for Democrats.

The Republican Party of Florida has also received $50,000 in contributions from the company, compared to $30,000 for the Florida Democratic Party.

The candidates who received donations from Publix this month include Mount Dora Republican Rep. Jennifer Sullivan and Republican candidates Tom LeekAlex Miller, and Rebecca Smith. Tampa Bay area Democrats Ben Diamond and Dianne Hart also received $1,000 checks.

After the Florida Chamber, the Florida Retail Federation received the most support from the grocery store chain with $750,000 in contributions since the end of 2014, followed by AIF’s “Voice of Florida Business” PAC which has brought in $170,000 this cycle.

The bulk of the rest of Publix’s 2016 cycle contributions went to “The Florida Justice Reform Committee,” chaired by Tallahassee attorney William W. Large, which has supported the re-election campaigns of many Republican candidates as well as a handful of Democrats.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.23.16 — Terry McAuliffe fulfills his promise

Donald Trump calls himself “the law and order candidate,” so one shouldn’t be surprised about his reaction to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe‘s announcement yesterday that he had signed papers restoring the voting rights of nearly 13,000 ex-felons.

Tump accused McAuliffe of “getting thousands of violent felons to the voting booth in an effort to cancel out the votes of both law enforcement and crime victims.”

Nevermind the fact that Virginia was just one of less than a handful of states that does not automatically restore the voting rights to ex-felons. McAuliffe’s announcement was a fulfillment of a promise he made when addressing the Florida delegation of Democrats at the DNC last month in Philadelphia.

In April, the Virginia Governor issued a sweeping order restoring rights to all ex-offenders who are no longer incarcerated or on probation or parole. That move was nixed by the Virginia Supreme Court however, which ruled last month that he had overstepped his clemency powers, agreeing with state Republicans who challenged his order, arguing the governor can only restore voting rights on a case-by-case basis and not en masse. So McAuliffe told Florida Democrats  that’s exactly what would do, and the first batch of 13,000 were given those rights yesterday.

His move comes as a couple of Florida Republicans in the Cabinet (some who still have aspirations in politics) told the Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas that they’re willing to revisit the Sunshine State’s hardcore rules on this subject. Yes, Florida is one of only 4 states (including Virginia)  that permanently strip felons of voting rights unless the governor lifts the prohibition.

“If someone does an analysis, we have been granting civil rights to those who were waiting who would have automatically had their rights restored (under the previous system) and it’s probably time for us to revisit,” CFO Jeff Atwater told the Herald.

“Having had some time and experience on the Clemency Board, I’ve come to believe that there are opportunities for improvement,” added Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

More than 10,000 men and women who have served their time remain on a waiting list to go before Putnam, Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Governor Rick Scott to have their cases reviewed individually, with the possibility of them granting them their voting rights. But hundreds of thousands have given up that hope.

In other news…

David Jolly has one of the best scores of anybody on the US Chamber of Commerce congressional scorecards. Yet the organization that spent more than $35 million in helping Republicans in 2014, hasn’t kicked out a dime for him this year.

It’s just not college students bummed at the absurdly high levels of debt they incur after graduating. The realtors want some legislative action as well, since it means that younger people have fewer dollars available to buy new homes.

Bob Buckhorn is being proactive in having his city prepared to deal with the Zika virus.

The Mayor also had some kind words to say of comedian/actress and now author Amy Schumer, after she offered some not so kind words about his city in her new memoir.

Tim Canova says Debbie Wasserman Schultz has too close of a relationship with Big Sugar interests.

Rick Scott says entire state needs to be involved in Zika prevention

Florida has done its part to slow the spread of Zika, but Gov. Rick Scott said it is time for the federal government to step up.

There are 36 cases of locally acquired Zika in Florida, all of which were believed to be transmitted in Miami-Dade County. The Department of Health believes active transmissions are only occurring in Wynwood, a trendy arts neighborhood, and in the Miami Beach area.

“We all have to be part of this. We have to get rid of standing water, wear bug repellent, wear protective clothing,” said Scott during a stop in Fort Myers on Monday morning. “If we do that, then we’re going to continue to do well. This state does a good job with mosquito control.”

But the state can’t do it alone, and Scott said federal lawmakers need to do their part to help Florida. Scott said the state has asked federal health officials to send more Zika prevention kits, which it hasn’t done. He also criticized Congress for taking a recess before passing a Zika funding bill.

“The federal government has not been a good partner,” he said.

President Barack Obama in February requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus. The GOP-led House passed a $1.1 billion spending package, but the Senate Democrats blocked the bill.

Scott isn’t the only lawmaker calling for help from federal lawmakers. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine are expected to hold a press conference Monday to urge Congress to return from recess to deal with the outbreak.

The outbreak in Miami Beach comes as the state reported more than 57 million visitors came to Florida in the first six months of the year. Miami Beach is a popular tourist destination, with 48 percent of all visitors to the Miami area staying in Miami Beach in 2015.

Last week, Scott called on the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Department of Health to work with hotels and restaurants in Miami-Dade County on Zika prevention and education.

“We started preparing for Zika back in February, and we’ve kept everyone informed. We put out accurate information, timely information,” said Scott. “That’s why we’re going to continue to see outstanding tourism numbers in our state. People know we are prepared. We prepare for hurricanes, we prepare for storms, (and) we’ve prepared for Zika.”

Scott is scheduled to spend Monday afternoon in Miami. He’ll visit Jose de Diego Middle School in Miami, before hosting a Zika preparedness roundtable at De Hostos Senior Center in Miami. He’ll be joined at the roundtable by Commissioner Adam Putnam and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

__The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Florida GOP announcement about ‘Leadership Victory Committee’ never mentions Donald Trump

While Donald Trump may only now be getting serious about establishing a ground game in Florida, the Republican Party of Florida says they’ll be more than ready to get their voters to the polls this November.

On Thursday, the RPOF announced its Florida Leadership Victory Committee, which it says will work to ensure that Republicans up and down the ballot are successful. It will be co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Four Republicans each offered comments about the importance of getting the Republican vote out this fall, but noticeably none of them cared to mention Trump in their comments.

“It has always been our objective that Republicans up and down the ballot have success come November,” says party Chairman Blaise Ingoglia, who at least referenced the presidency.

“As a battleground state, the Republican Party of Florida is spending its time and resources supporting candidates that stand for conservative principles that will reverse the course of President Obama’s failed agenda. For the Sunshine State, this election is about keeping Hillary Clinton out of the Oval Office by delivering Florida’s 29 electoral votes to the Republican nominee and restoring prosperity to our country.”

Lopez-Cantera and Putnam referenced the importance of getting Marco Rubio re-elected to the U.S. Senate in November, but mentioned nothing about their presidential standard-bearer.

“With control of the Senate comes the direction of the disastrous Iran Deal, the filling of potentially multiple Supreme Court vacancies and the economic future of our country,” said Lopez-Cantera. “This committee will work to elect Republicans up and down the ballot because this is a crucial point in our nation’s history, and I am honored to serve as a co-chair alongside CFO Atwater and Commissioner Putnam. The Republican Party of Florida’s efforts will ensure we do not have to see Chuck Schumer as majority leader, because that would be unthinkable.

“Once again, it all comes down to Florida. Without a continued majority in the Senate and House, including Marco Rubio’s leadership, we put America’s future at risk,” said Putnam. We need to elect principled conservatives now more than ever, and that is why we must work for Republican victories up and down the ballot. These races are too important to take for granted, and Florida and America’s futures depend on it.”

“We must all work to maintain Republican majorities at the local, state and federal level, and the grassroots effort here in Florida will be crucial,” said Atwater. “Florida is a key battleground state, and the committee is devoted to providing the resources necessary for a strong victory in November.”

RPOF officials say this committee will provide necessary resources to implement what they boast will be the “strongest ground game in the country,” as well as take responsibility for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Adam Putnam says Florida’s goal is to be most military friendly place in nation

The history of modern Florida begins with the military, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the state needs to continue to do what it can to protect and grow its position within the industry.

“The governor has made it his priority that Florida be the most friendly state in the country (for military veterans and their families),” said Putnam. “Florida is not taking a defensive posture, but taking an offensive posture for how aggressively we’re prepared to move to military commitment.”

Putnam helped kick off the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military Defense, Veterans & Opportunities Summit in St. Petersburg Wednesday. The day-long event aims to bring together leaders from Florida’s military and defense industry, economic development experts, and policy makers to discuss the challenges facing the state.

Putnam said the state’s goal should be to expand its footprint, and to continue to be one of the “most military and veteran friendly” states in the nation. To do that, the state needs to communicate the opportunities available to veterans.

Putnam is doing his part to do something to say thank you to veterans. In 2011, the Florida Forest Service launched Operation Outdoor Freedom. Putnam pushed for the creation of the program, which provides wounded veterans the chance to participate in outdoor activities at no cost.

Since then, Operation Outdoor Freedom has hosted 300 events on public and private lands. About 2,500 veterans have taken part in the program since its creation.

“I think it’s the least we can do,” he said.

And the state can do more, he said. There needs to be a continued push to make sure Florida doesn’t lose its unified commands. And when it comes to the private sector, businesses should tap into veterans’ expertise.

“We can do great things for our people,” he said. “We can give them some small token of a thank you for the sacrifices that have been made for the things we take for granted.”

Adam Putnam and Jeff Atwater are backing Rebecca Smith in Hillsborough HD 60 race

Rebecca Smith, the Tampa businesswoman locked in a battle against Jackie Toledo for the Republican nomination to the House District 60 seat, is touting endorsements from half of the Florida Cabinet.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced their support for Smith Monday, three days after she snagged photos with the two officials at an event Putnam was speaking at in South Tampa.

“I have known Rebecca Smith for many years,” Atwater said Monday. “Rebecca is a proven business leader who knows how to get things done. Rebecca shares my conservative philosophy of lower taxes, less government, more personal freedom, and personal responsibility. Rebecca has fought for our men and women in uniform; she will strongly support our law enforcement and first responders; and she knows how to create jobs and grow Tampa’s economy. Rebecca’s experience and background, combined with her true desire to serve and represent her community, make her well qualified to represent the residents of Florida House District 60. In the Primary Election, I ask that you cast your vote for my friend, Rebecca Smith, for State Representative, District 60.

Putnam followed suit, saying, “Rebecca is a proven leader, who has served the community and fights hard for our shared values. I know Rebecca Smith to have the highest character and integrity and she puts principles above politics. Rebecca Smith will stand strong for what’s right and we can count on her.”

Smith is the founder and president of A.D. Morgan Corporation in Tampa, and is a member of the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority.

Toledo is a Tampa-based engineer who has been running a television ad touting her law-and-order bonafides, as she’s been endorsed by a number of law enforcement agencies, as well as the National Rifle Association.

Smith has snagged her fair share of endorsements as well, including from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Bay Times (that was a “recommendation”).

House District 60 includes all of South Tampa, much of south Hillsborough County, and Town N Country. It’s currently occupied by Republican Dana Young. Democrat David Singer will face the winner of the GOP primary in November.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.15.16 —Team USA Basketball team continues to barely get by in XXXI Olympiad

Time for sport, as they say on the BBC.

Well, so much for those stories about how those dire predictions about how the Rio Olympics have been proven wrong: Yesterday in Rio, U.S. gold medalist Ryan Lochte said robbers posing as police pointed a gun at his head and took his money, while three other U.S. swimmers with him were forced to lie on the ground by their assailants and also were robbed. Things had been going so smoothly in Brazil until then, hadn’t they? Well, Olympic officials did find two bullets that tore through a media tent at the equestrian center and reporters have claimed their bus was shot at while driving along a highway from a basketball arena.

So how has your Olympic viewing experience been to date, more than halfway through the  XXXI Olympiad? I’m actually fascinated by how Team USA’s 2016 Dream Team is (barely) winning each game by the skin of their teeth. Yesterday, the Americans — led by the Warriors’ Klay Thompson, edged out France, 100-97, securing the top seed in Group A with  5-0 record. It was nice to see Thompson start contributing, after having laid some golden eggs in the shooting department last week. New Warrior Kevin Durant hasn’t been stellar, either.

The Tampa Bay Rays were on national TV on Friday night — as the team playing opposite Alex Rodriguez in his last game as a New York Yankee. But is A-Rod’s career over? The way he’s played this season, it probably should be, but rumors abound that he may get a call from the Miami Marlins this week, after they lost their star player, Giancarlo Stanton, for the rest of the season. Even though there’s little in the tank, A-Rod didn’t want this weekend to be his last ever, and if the Marlins sign him, it’s on the Yankees dime.

The New York sports media is going to miss A-Rod big time. As the New York Daily News Bob Raissman wrote on Sunday, “Somewhere out there, we see a lonely sports headline writer sitting in a dimly lit room sobbing as he looks at all his past Rodriguez-inspired work knowing that it’s over-and-out for catchy lines like: ‘A-Fraud.’ Or ‘A-Roid Busted Again.’”

Rays fans will be heartened to know that manager Kevin Cash‘s job is secure, according to Rays owner Stu Sternberg. I mean, you are happy he’s not in any trouble, despite the fact the franchise is staring at a 100-loss season (though they were impressive yesterday in defeating the Yanks, 12-3).

NFL football also returned to America this weekend after being away for seven months. Well, sort of. What else do we call pre-season games, anyway? Mildly diverting entertainment, unless you’re a season ticket holder to any of the NFL’s 30 franchises, in which case it’s more like a ripoff.

In other news …

Treasure Coast Rep. Patrick Murphy is in Tampa today. His main opponent in the Florida Democratic Senate primary, Alan Grayson, paid a visit to the Seminole Heights Library last week.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova engaged in their first and probably only debate in their race for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

Adam Putnam is on everyone’s shortlist as a Republican candidate for governor in 2018. He spoke Friday for nearly an hour on a variety of issues in Tampa.

Adam Putnam endorses David Jolly in CD 13

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is throwing his support behind Rep. David Jolly.

Putnam has endorsed Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The endorsement comes just two weeks ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

“David Jolly has a proven record of putting people before politics and his community’s interests before Washington’s,” said Putnam in a statement.

Putnam knows a thing or two about serving in Congress. He spent 10 years representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District, stepping down in 2010 to run for agriculture commissioner. A lifelong Floridian, Putnam is widely believed to be gearing up for a 2018 gubernatorial bid.

“It’s an honor to have Commissioner Putnam’s support,” said Jolly in a statement. “He’s one of Florida’s greatest leaders, committed always to economic growth and individual liberty — a free market constitutionalist whose support is a true honor.”

While most of the focus has been on the likely match-up between Jolly and Democrat Charlie Crist in November, Jolly does have a primary challenger.

Jolly faces Mark Bircher in the Aug. 30 primary. The race marks the second time Bircher and Jolly will face off in a Republican primary. Bircher finished third behind Jolly and Kathleen Peters in special Republican primary in January 2014.

But Bircher faces an uphill battle in his quest to unseat Jolly. The Indian Shores Republican has received the backing of establishment Republicans, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Vern Buchanan, the chairman of the Florida congressional delegation.

“David has demonstrated he has the capability to break through the dysfunction in Washington,” said Putnam. “He is without a doubt the right man for the job.”

Adam Putnam espouses the importance of water to Florida while speaking at ‘Cafe Con Tampa’

If Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam has a central governing philosophy, it might be the importance of having a long-term memory about the Sunshine State.

“Having a longer memory I think helps us maintain the types of protections for our citizens that they expect and that they deserve,” he said while speaking at an hour long town-hall meeting at Hugo’s restaurant in South Tampa Friday morning.

The Polk County native, who just turned 42 last month, loves to talk policy, and if he ultimately chooses to run for Florida Governor in 2018, his intricate knowledge of the state and his prescriptions to improve it will undoubtedly make him a formidable candidate

Citing a statistic that an official with Florida Power & Light told him about 40 percent of their customers didn’t live through the seven major hurricanes that rocked Florida in 2004-2005, Putnam warned about the public becoming too complacent about a major weather event, since so much of the state’s population hadn’t endured what real damage those storms can have.

He took a similar attitude when discussing handling the Zika virus.

“Mosquito control programs are the kind of thing that Dave Barry or Carl Hiaasen would write a joking column about, right?” he told the overflow crowd. “Only in Florida would there be mosquito control programs. Until you get Zika. Or Dengue. Or Chikungunya.”

Putnam also spoke extensively about water policy. He said water infrastructure in the state simply hasn’t received the type of attention it should.

“There is nothing more important to Florida’s health, Florida’s economy, Florida’s future, than water,” he said plainly. He called it the state’s original “tourist attraction,” well before Disney came to Orlando.

Florida faces a billion gallon per day shortfall statewide by 2030, he said, with a third of that shortfall in the Orlando area. He said that the creation and implementation of Tampa Bay Water is a model that needed to be expanded statewide.

He said it wasn’t cheap to convert 1950’s era subdivisions in Martin and St. Lucie Counties to central sewers, “but that’s the best thing that you can do for the water in those communities.”

He also said the state needs to develop more ways to capture and use reclaimed water, create better stormwater infrastructure, and agriculture needs to do its part. And he said, the feds and the state have to fix Lake Okeechobee, what he referred to as the world’s largest retention pond.

Referring to the toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee into Stuart and Jupiter on Florida’s Treasure Coast, Putnam said if he owned waterfront property there, he’d be as angry as those residents right now. “Because they didn’t do anything wrong, and for 40 years it’s going to be fixed. And when it stops raining. And the release is in, people kind of move on to the next shiny object. And that’s why we have to have a consistent, dedication to a comprehensive water policy in the entire state of Florida.”

The crowd – which included Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, Senate District 19 Democratic hopeful Bob Buesing, House District 60 Republican contender Rebecca Smith and former County Commissioner and mayoral candidate Ed Turanchik – was a little larger than the usual Friday morning “Cafe Con Tampa” breakfast events held every Friday at the South Tampa eatery, which is produced by Tucker Hall’s Bill Carlson and Del Acosta, a former historic preservation manager with the city of Tampa.

Turanchik referred to All Aboard Florida, the passenger rail project connecting Miami to Orlando with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. He asked Putnam if he supported to bring that rail ultimately to Tampa.

The Agriculture Commissioner said he did, “How much wider can we make I-4?,” which elicited a round of applause. “Congestion in Florida is becoming in places an inhibitor to economic development and quality of life. And that’s unacceptable. I don’t want Florida to become like Atlanta. I hate Atlanta,” he said, calling the traffic conditions there “a nightmare.”

As he does in most speeches, Putnam discussed how for so many Americans (especially in the Midwest and East coast), Florida is a “reward” for a life well lived.

“Keeping that dream alive, keeping Florida special…is a special burden that all of us who are proud enough to serve in elected office are honored to carry,” he said.

As the event ended, Putnam was asked about his plans for 2018. By every measure, he is considered to be one of the top Republicans who will be running for governor, and is probably the early favorite to win the office, more than two years out.

“Well I think the American people’s appetite can handle only one circus at a time,” generating laughter from the audience, who seemed to be in his corner. “So we’re going to get through November, and then I’ll have some decisions to make the first part of the year.”

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