Joe Henderson: I go to Publix for groceries, not for politics

Publix (Large)

Yes, the giant Publix supermarket chain has essentially endorsed Adam Putnam to be Florida’s next governor and has thrown a lot of money into his campaign.

Interesting but, in the big picture, so what?

I find shopping at Publix to be a pleasure, especially when its deli fried chicken is fresh out of the cooker. The stores are clean, the worker bees are helpful, and by the time I reach the checkout line, it doesn’t really matter to me what the company thinks about Putnam or any other politician.

I go there for groceries, not for political advice.

A lot about Putnam’s campaign rhetoric has been troubling, especially that “elitist liberal” crap in his latest TV ad, the one that trumpets his Bartow roots, complete with hay bailing.

Guess what, Adam? I bailed hay too, back in the day. I rolled sod. I recapped tires for $2 an hour. I don’t think that qualifies me to lead the state.



Stop with the liberal bashing. You are better than this.

Aren’t you?

But I also understand primary politics today, which basically forces candidates in either party to prove they can appeal to the almighty base. That’s true of Democrats as well as Republicans, and it’s a big part of why politics today is so partisan.

The “base” is filled with dedicated voters who would turn out if the primary was held at midnight on a Thursday during a hurricane. To win the nomination, a candidate has to show he or she can be just as extreme and uncompromising as anyone in the base.

Then the general election comes and everything changes. That’s when the everyday voter, with concerns that include politics but don’t exclude everything else, turns out.

And if Democrats can somehow ride a blue wave and gain control of the state Senate – even if they aren’t successful in winning the Governor’s mansion — having the political savvy to work with the other side will be important.

By that time, I don’t think anyone worth a rat’s patooie will care if whoever wins the race was endorsed by Publix or anyone else.

The issues in Florida are going to be the same for a while – health care, guns, schools, transportation.

The question for all candidates is how do they plan to address those things, not their stance on weekly BOGOs.

If it’s going to be a strictly agenda-based administration, on either side, then people might want to stick their heads under the covers for the next four years.

Rick Scott won two terms by about 1 percentage point each time. I wouldn’t call that a mandate, but Republicans – with the help of gerrymandered districts in the House and Senate – treated it that way and rammed through laws that gave the cold shoulder to about half of the state.

But that’s getting ahead of things.

Publix, based in Lakeland, understandably supports Putnam. He came from nearby Bartow, and he represents much of what that corporation stands for.

Interestingly, there are some things they don’t agree on. Remember how Putnam regrettably referred to himself as a “proud NRA sellout?”

Publix has sought to distance itself from the NRA, if not Putnam, after the Tampa Bay Times initially reported the chain’s significant financial support of him.

I’m not saying that initial story wasn’t interesting.

It was good reporting and it’s helpful to know where the money comes from.

However, it won’t make me decide to shop somewhere else if I decide not to vote for Putnam. I mean, I really like Publix fried chicken.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Dennis Rees

    May 17, 2018 at 4:05 am

    Well said Joe. Putman’s “liberal elites” is equivalent to Hillary”s “deplorables”. We all know how that turned out.

    • R

      May 22, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Yep, now we have a racist homophobic sexist xenophobic transphobic Nazi-supporting fascist billionaire who doesn’t pay his own taxes, grabs women, insults gold star families, mocks the handicapped, and dodged the draft 5 times but wants military parade. I get it, you’re tired of corrupt billionaires, so you voted for a corrupt billionaire. 🙂

    • R

      May 22, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Yep, now we have a racist homophobic sexist xenophobic transphobic Nazi-supporting fascist billionaire who doesn’t pay his own taxes, grabs women, insults gold star families, mocks the handicapped, and dodged the draft 5 times but wants military parade. I get it, you’re tired of corrupt billionaires, so you voted for a corrupt billionaire.

  • Tom Cullen

    May 17, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Putnam’s website is full of Us vs Them fear mongering so typical of today’s partisan politicians. Doesn’t move you to go to the Fresh Market down the street for your chicken? If Publix wants to push an agenda at odds with majority of their customers they should pay a price. They could have just stayed neutral and concentrated on their great BOGO deals.

  • Alexander Macy

    May 17, 2018 at 10:11 am

    This cuts both ways, Joe.

    If you’re going to point a righteous journalist finger and shame a business for looking out for its interests by supporting a candidate or an issue in Florida, why not US Sugar? Why give the Disney Empire a pass? Why celebrate Dick’s Sporting Goods for taking a stand against automatic rifles? Or nod approvingly when countless companies are pressured into pulling advertising from various tv shows because [insert name here] said or did something to prompt 15 minutes of virtue signalling?

  • Bill Monroe

    May 17, 2018 at 10:52 am

    does Putnam think that with social media, viral posts, the ability to Google a politicians past, access to PAS donations that we the public are sitting on our haunches and going sure Adam, those damn liberals and non-trump supporters are NOT paying attention? Of course we are paying attention. We know how Publix donated to the defeat of Amendment 2 in 2014, and continue to donate to prohibitionist Adam Putnam who receives thousands of dollars in federal dollars to pull up ditch weed with the help of $2,000 an hour helicopters. Please Adam, this is all show and we know it to be. Also, Publix displays its political motivations and stance to the public via its donations. It appears Publix is Pro-NRA, hates medical marijuana, believes it incarcerating its shoppers in for-profit prisons owned by the GEO Group, and really doesn’t care for anyone not in the Trump camp. Publix is at risk of devaluing its branding and that commercial representation that it cares for its shoppers. Cares about profits, but cares about ALL of its shoppers? I think not.

  • Sheila

    May 17, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    I go there forcthe grocerues too. However I care how what I buy impacts the world around us…as do many liberal elites. And I won’t be spending it at Publix any more.

  • Freedom1776

    May 17, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Don’t like it, don’t shop there..that simple. The idea of shopping in a liberal free zone sounds like heaven.

  • Seth Platt

    May 17, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    Corporate Social Responsibility is important to many consumers, some companies base their entire business plan on it. Consumer purchase power is an important tool for social change, ask many of the companies boycotted in the last couple of years through the power of social media. Your apathy at what Publix does with its profits is one of the problems with America, and many corporations depend on that apathy to leverage their ability to influence politicians through political donations. Publix chicken is not so great that we should look the other way while they embolden the real political elitists like Putnam to oppress the majority of Floridians.

    • Tonya

      May 17, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Yes, Seth.

  • Janet sullivan

    May 17, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    I go to Publix to buy groceries.. not politics. And they should just sell groceries…. not get involved in politics. I own a business and would never think of associating my business with any political stance or candidate. It’s too risky. I’m so sorry they did. I’ll not be shopping there again. They’ll always be tainted in my eyes.

  • Artus

    May 17, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    Putnam’s trash talk against DeSantis is a real turn off. I hope he gets his a$$ kicked. He’s a good ole Florida boy who has been in politics most of his adult life – a career politician who thinks he is entitled to be the next Governor. I have shopped at a Publix for 35 years. This was a real disappointment.

  • John

    May 19, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I will stop shopping at Publix. I would like to keep politics out of my grocery shopping but Publix has now made that impossible by supporting a candidate that by his own words is a sell out to the NRA.

  • Karen Rainville

    May 20, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I actually emailed Publix via their “Contact”link on their website. The response I received was direct from what they now show as their “disclaimer” on their website: “We support bi-partisan, business-friendly candidates, regardless of political affiliation, etc…..”. Publix has made it clear that they will support pro-gun lobby efforts. Supporting Adam Putnam is only one example of their stance. I’ve emailed Publix twice in the last year regarding the weapons/gun magazines on full display in their magazine section, right across from the Oreos. They’ve defended this move by indicating that they must appeal to the likes of all customers. I’ve been in several Publix stores in Florida and they all continue to display magazines advertising assault weapons and shooting on the covers. During one of my shopping trips, I saw a teenage boy perusing one of the assault weapons magazines for several minutes. I wondered what was going through his mind.
    It’s this and the Publix support of Adam Putnam as a self-proclaimed “NRA sell-out” that confirms my decision to no longer shop at Publix. After 30 years of going “Where Shopping is a Pleasure”, I choose to spend my money elsewhere.

    • Karen Rainville

      May 21, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      Go to and at the very bottom of their home page, you’ll see a heading “info”. Just under that is the word, “Contact”. Click on that, scroll down and you’ll see where you can submit a comment.

Comments are closed.


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