Adam Putnam Archives - Florida Politics

New poll finds Democrats’ 6-point advantage in generic governor’s race

Without naming a specific candidate, a new poll finds Democrats have a six-point advantage in the 2018 Florida governor’s race.

Conducted by SEA Polling & Strategic Design, a Tampa-based firm known for Democratic polling, the poll was taken Aug. 13-17 with live callers, 30 percent cellphones, and bilingual interviewers.

“With big names lining up to run for governor on both sides, we decided to take a more legislative approach to see how the race for governor is setting up by asking which party candidate for governor was the respondent more likely to support,” SEA pollster Thomas Eldon stated in a memo announcing some of the results.

“Despite a conservative midterm model giving Republicans a plus-two turnout advantage (41 percent Republican/39 percent Democrat/20 percent no party affiliation), the results favored the Democrat by six with peak intensity separation also at six.”

The poll found the Democratic strength lays with women and Hispanics, in Central Florida and South Florida; Republicans continue to hold solid advantages among white voters and in the Florida Panhandle.

Democrats also held a five-point advantage over Republicans among independents. However, independent voters were much less likely than partisans to make a pick. Almost 45 percent did not choose a party candidate, Eldon noted.

Women voters gave the generic Democratic gubernatorial candidate a 15-point advantage over the Republican, and among working women, the lead rose to 19 points. Hispanic voters gave a Democratic choice a 16-point advantage.

“With Democrats holding a significant margin among Hispanics, Hispanic turnout in 2018 is pivotal to secure a clear path to victory,” Eldon wrote.

The poll was released through Christian Ulvert‘s Edge Communications, which is working with  Philip Levine, the Miami Beach Mayor who is posturing as a Democratic candidate for governor, though he has neither announced nor filed for candidacy. Without disclosing whom, Ulvert said the poll was commissioned by an individual, but said it was not Levine nor anyone associated with his campaign.

Leading candidates for governor include Democrats Gwen Graham, Chris King, and Andrew Gillum, and Republicans Adam Putnam and Jack Latvala. Democrat John Morgan and Republicans Richard Corcoran and Ron DeSantis also are positioning for possible runs.

Sources: Ron DeSantis nears entering Governor’s race

The race for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination could soon pick up even more star power, this time with Congressman Ron DeSantis.

Though there was some discussion the Palm Coast Republican may enter the race for attorney general, our sources debunk that theory, saying DeSantis spent the summer meeting with conservative donors discussing the governor’s race.

There has also been a shift in online presence. DeSantis2016.com is now being redirected to RonDeSantis.com.

Likewise, the tagline on the new website speaks to a new emphasis: “Ron DeSantis for Florida.” As does a change in imagery, with lifeguard towers replacing Capitol Hill-style graphics.

And a noticeable uptick in online activity on Twitter: @RonDeSantisFl.

All of this points to a pivot in focus — perhaps to a statewide run many anticipated back in the 2016 cycle, when DeSantis dominated fundraising in the U.S. Senate race until Marco Rubio reconsidered his presidential bid and ran for re-election.

Time is of the essence for DeSantis’ launch, which looks likely to be in November; on the GOP side of the ledger, fundraising is already fast and furious.

Per the Tampa Bay Times, state Sen. Jack Latvala raised over $800,000 in his first month in the race — with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam still the clubhouse leader at $19.19 million raised thus far between committee cash and campaign money.

Meanwhile,  House Speaker Richard Corcoran raised $4.4 million — with $3.9 million on hand (and he’s not officially announcing anything in this race until after the Legislative Session).

DeSantis does have what seems to be a unique value-add, says POLITICO’s Marc Caputo — shoutouts from President Donald Trump and his namesake son.

At a Heritage Foundation confab, the elder Trump called DeSantis “incredible” (per Caputo), while Donald Trump Jr. is tweeting out news stories citing DeSantis’ pressure on the “Uranium One” deal — a hot-button issue for activists on the right.

Though a lot of money is on the GOP side of the race, in a field crowded with smart politicians, the Trump factor could prove dispositive.

DeSantis’ entry could prove most damaging to Putnam, who is attempting to stake out the right flank in the primary. With a few months’ head start, the DeSantis factor could occlude Corcoran’s prospects as well.

Adam Putnam, Carlos Smith clash on guns, then sit, talk, listen

After reflecting saying that Florida needs someone who can stop divisive, hateful sentiments and bring people together, Adam Putnam got his chance to try out his skills at Tiger Bay Friday defending gun-owners and then sitting down with a Pulse survivor who disagrees.

Putnam came to the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida Friday to talk hurricane response as the state’s agriculture commissioner and political policies on topics ranging from education to economic development as the leading Republican candidate for governor in the 2018 election.

Inevitably there were questions from the broad-political crowd about hatred and white supremacy espoused in Gainesville Thursday by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, and about Putnam’s unabashed support for the National Rifle Association after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando killed 49 and wounded 53, including Javier Nava.

Nava was there Friday with state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat who has sponsored tough gun law reform bills including proposed bans on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. Those were used to wound Nava and kill four of his close friends among the 53 murdered at the popular gay nightclub by gay-hating, Isis-espousing madman Omar Mateen on June 12, 2016.

How, Smith challenged Putnam, could he call himself an “NRA sellout” as he did this spring, and not have it come off as insensitive to those in Orlando community devastated by the Pulse massacre?

“That’s an example of what I’m talking about,” Putnam responded.

He then launched an expression of the point of view of people in rural and small-town Florida, including himself, who consider gun ownership to be a part of their way of life, even, as Putnam said he received, getting guns for graduation presents.

They’re not the people to be vilified or targeted with legislation after tragedies like Pulse, he insisted. They need to be talked with, listened to, recognized as honorable parts of society, he argued.

“Let’s not confuse hatred for fellow man with a heritage and culture and a lifestyle that includes a respect for fellow life but also an outdoor recreation that involves firearms that has been central to our country’s identity since its founding,” Putnam said. “I’d be honored to meet with Javier.”

And then it happened. Putnam sat down with Nava and Smith in private conversation. Afterward, neither expected the other’s position to change significantly, but both expressed hope that what they said might make a difference.

“I told him, don’t wait or gun violence to affect your family or yourself. I think and I hope after he heard me he’ll change a little bit in his mind about guns,” said Nava, who was shot in the stomach and underwent two surgeries, and is recovering.

Putnam said the conversation was an example of both sides listening to each other respectfully, which he thinks is still in practice in Florida, however lost in Washington D.C., and said it was his style.

“We listened respectfully to one another and have a better understanding where each of us is coming from,” Putnam said. “He was shot. At Pulse. I can understand that he has very serious concerns.”

Yet Putnam drew the line on listening when it comes to hate speech, like that offered Thursday at the University of Florida by Spencer, whom he said “spouted hate and vitriol, solely to generate an angry response. And violence follows him wherever he goes.”

Afterward, however, Smith charged that Putnam never answered his question, which was about his self-described “sellout” to the NRA, which Smith described as an extremist organization opposed to any and all gun law changes.

“Nobody is vilifying gun owners,” Smith said.

‘Do not call’ Dana Young with unwanted sales voicemails

Dana Young wants to hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign for automated sales voicemails. 

The Republican state senator from Tampa has filed a bill to define such voicemails as “telephonic sales calls” that Floridians could ask not to receive.

Her legislation (SB 568) would include voicemails “made by or on behalf of (a) seller whose goods or services are being offered, or (by) a charitable organization for which a charitable contribution is being solicited.”

The problem has been “ever clever telemarketers” who keep trying to create loopholes, Young said.

For example, she referred to a request by one marketing company for the Federal Communications Commission to declare voicemails OK under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

“We know the federal government can take a lifetime to act, but in Florida, we can do this fairly nimbly,” Young said.

The state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services maintains the “Florida Do Not Call List” for residents “who do not wish to receive sales calls or texts.”

The list has “grown to include more than 1 million phone numbers since Commissioner Adam Putnam worked with the Legislature in 2012 to remove the fee to join,” his website says.

Young’s bill does not address “robocalls” by of for political candidates.

The FCC says, “Political campaign-related prerecorded voice or autodialed calls (including autodialed live calls, prerecorded voice messages, and text messages already) are … prohibited to cell phones, pagers, or other mobile devices without the called party’s prior express consent,” but are OK “when made to landline telephones, even without prior express consent.”

Campaign cash from utilities? ‘I’ll accept it,’ Richard Corcoran says

While GOP gubernatorial rivals Jack Latvala and Adam Putnam feud over campaign contributions from investor-owned utilities, Richard Corcoran is watching from the sidelines.

As reported by FloridaPolitics last week, Agriculture Commissioner Putnam’s political committee has received nearly $800,000 from the utilities, and another $1.8 million to political committees that may have been re-directed to him.

Latvala, a Clearwater state senator, last month said he would no longer accept political contributions from the power companies, saying they should spend their money on improving power grid infrastructure following the outages after Hurricane Irma barreled through the state.

Corcoran, the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, said Wednesday that he has accepted campaign contributions from the investor-owned utilities in the past, and he hopes to in the future.

“I’ve accepted in the past, as has Senator Latvala, and I’ll accept it in the future,” he said to reporters following a news conference in Tampa. “And my record speaks for itself in fighting for consumers in utility fights.”

Corcoran added that he’ll take contributions from virtually any group.

“My point to anybody is, anybody can donate to my campaign for the most part. I’m Richard Corcoran, this is what I stand for, and that’s what I’m going to fight for. And if you don’t like it, don’t donate.”

On another issue, the speaker said Gov. Rick Scott won’t have to worry about a bill funding an airplane for the next governor.

Scott, who is term-limited next year, ended the practice when he became governor in 2011, saying that it was a waste of taxpayer money as he had the funds to afford his own personal plane. Scott sidestepped reporters’ questions about it after this week’s Cabinet meeting.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a plane in the House budget, I can assure you of that,” said Corcoran, who also is term-limited next year—and may declare his own run for governor after the 2018 Legislative Session.

Cabinet approves protecting Okeechobee ranch land

Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet agreed Tuesday to spend about $5.7 million to conserve more than 2,500 acres of ranch land in a deal that nearly depletes this year’s funding for a program used to keep agricultural property from development.

The deal — known as purchasing a conservation easement — allows the owners of the Corona Ranch in Okeechobee County to continue using the land for cattle, but it prevents future development of the property, which drains into the Kissimmee River.

Owned by the Corona family, the land, which is less than five miles south of Kissimmee Prairie State Park, houses species such as gopher tortoises, fox squirrels, and burrowing owls and has had three recent Florida Panther sightings, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

About 34 percent of the land is considered wetlands. The Corona family, which started in the cattle business in the mid-1800s in Cuba, has been ranching in Florida since 1961, including since the 1980s on the Okeechobee property.

Money for the deal comes from the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which has been championed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. The program has been used 31 times by the current Cabinet since 2011 to preserve 35,644 acres.

“With more than 1,000 people moving to Florida every day, we must continue to prioritize the conservation of our agricultural lands and world-renowned natural spaces,” Putnam said.

In the 2017-2018 budget, $10 million was set aside for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.

Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida, said after Tuesday’s meeting the deal uses the remaining funding from the program.

“We’re going to go back the Legislature and ask them to put more money in the program,” Draper said. “It’s been so successful it’s already generated 38,000 acres of land that has been conserved (since the program’s start).”

Farmers may get loans to help with Irma damage

Florida farmers in 44 counties may be eligible for federal loans to help cover damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced.

Still, Florida might have to wait months for broader federal assistance to the agriculture industry, which sustained more than $2.5 billion in losses from the storm.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue notified Gov. Rick Scott on Friday that the federal agency determined that Florida had sufficient production loss to warrant a “secretarial natural disaster designation” for most of the peninsula.

The designation makes farmers eligible to be considered for Farm Service Agency programs, including emergency loans, Perdue wrote in a letter to Scott. Farmers have eight months to apply for the loans.

“FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator,” Perdue wrote.

The federal designation names 19 counties as “primary” natural disaster areas and 25 as being in “contiguous” counties. Farmers in primary and contiguous counties are eligible to apply for loans.

The state on Sept. 28 had requested the primary designation for 19 counties. Irma made landfall in Monroe and Collier counties on Sept. 10 and then barreled up the state.

Under Perdue’s designations, the primary counties are Alachua, Bradford, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Gilchrist, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Osceola, Palm Beach and Sumter.

The “contiguous” counties are Baker, Brevard, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Hardee, Hernando, Lafayette, Levy, Manatee, Martin, Okeechobee, Orange, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, St. Lucie, Sarasota, Seminole, Suwannee, Union and Volusia.

A preliminary report from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released Oct. 4 estimated that citrus industry losses from the storm approached $761 million. The state’s vegetable, nursery, cattle, dairy, sugar, non-citrus fruit and timber crops all were impacted by the massive storm.

In a statement Friday about the federal designations, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said, “it’s important to recognize that the damage is still unfolding.

“By making more federal help available, combined with our Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program, we are giving farmers a way to immediately address the losses they incurred during Hurricane Irma,” Scott said in a prepared statement.

Scott has authorized a $25 million interest-free loan program for citrus farmers.

The federal designation also came as Florida officials have turned their attention to the U.S. Senate, which this week is expected to take up a $36.5 billion disaster-relief package directed at hurricane damage in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the ongoing wildfires in California. The money doesn’t include agricultural assistance for Florida.

The House on Thursday did not attach a measure to its relief package to cover losses incurred across Florida’s agricultural landscape. The measure was proposed by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, a Republican whose district covers rural lands northwest of Lake Okeechobee.

Putnam, a former congressman who is running for governor, told reporters Thursday that the federal assistance may not be available until early next year if the Florida agricultural funding isn’t added to the current relief package.

“If we’re not in that one, it could be as late as mid-December before the next one moves,” Putnam said “And then when you back that up from how long it would take to implement a program to get assistance out the door you’re looking at well into the first quarter of next year before growers are seeing any relief.”

Putnam, expressing concerns that foreign growers could make inroads into Florida, criticized the “traditional” disaster relief programs as “wholly inadequate.”

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Adam Putnam warns agriculture loss is ‘still unfolding’

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Thursday said he worried that the feds’ citrus forecast wouldn’t accurately reflect the devastation to the state’s citrus crop after Hurricane Irma.

“I am concerned about what that forecast may be, given that so many of the circumstances that are fundamental to having an accurate forecast have changed,” Putnam said in a news conference.

Groves are still underwater and fruit is falling to the ground weeks after Irma plowed up the peninsula.

Later Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a forecast showing a 16 percent decrease in U.S. orange production from last year and a 21 percent reduction in Florida orange production.

The numbers might be worse in reality, Putnam said, before they came out: “It’s important that we continue to recognize the damage done to Florida agriculture is still unfolding.”

A request for comment is pending with Putnam’s office on the USDA’s forecast.

Putnam and Gov. Rick Scott spent Wednesday in Washington, reaffirming Florida’s desire for Congress to include provisions for farmer relief assistance in the $29 billion emergency funding bill taken up by the House this week.

He explained that farmers are taking the brunt of the damage because, by the time Irma struck, they had already invested most of their yearly expenses into their crops, expecting a bountiful return.

“As with so many natural disasters, those who have the least have been hurt the most,” Putnam told reporters.

After the 2004 hurricane season, the USDA authorized a $500 million relief fund for farmers. Today, a fund like that would have to be authorized by Congress.

Putnam says it’s likely too late to include farmer assistance in the House bill, but he is working with U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson to lump that provision into an accompanying Senate bill next week.

If it’s not brought into the Senate bill, Putnam says a farmer assistance provision could be delayed to mid-December, meaning farmers would not receive any actual help until well into 2018.

Crops across the board were hit hard. Putnam expects prices to rise as a result of what he called the “winter vegetable capital of America” being out of production.

The only way prices don’t spike is as damaging to Florida’s economy, he suggested: A flood of imports from foreign countries.

Mike Pence to keynote Republicans’ conference in Orlando

Vice President Mike Pence is slated to be the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Florida’s annual Statesman Diner during their November state conference in Orlando.

Pence – with “special guest” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio –  is to highlight the dinner set for Thursday, Nov. 2 at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, kicking off the two-day conference.

Also billed for the kickoff dinner to the quarterly party meeting are three of the four members of the Florida Cabinet, though not Gov. Rick Scott. The other advertised guests include Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Attorney General Pam Bondi,  Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Florida Senate President Joe Negron, and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

General tickets are $200 for the dinner, with executive committee members and College Republicans getting discounts.

Adam Putnam says Hurricane Irma was ‘lethal’ for Florida agriculture

Telling them that their committee will be more important than they ever could have imagined but for all the wrong reasons, Adam Putnam offered a sobering assessment to the Senate Committee on Agriculture about the impact that Hurricane Irma left on the state’s agriculture industry Thursday.

Florida suffered at least $2.5 billion in osses from the storm, the path of which “could not have been more lethal for Florida agriculture,” Putnam said.

“When you think about the pride that we have in Florida about the fresh winter vegetables that are on people’s Thanksgiving table, (they) won’t be there because of Hurricane Irma,” he added.

Florida’s citrus industry got the worst of the storm, with preliminary estimates finding that Irma devastated the state’s largest agricultural industry with nearly $761 million worth of damage. An estimated 70 percent loss of the state’s orange trees.

On Wednesday, Putnam joined Governor Rick Scott in Washington D.C , where they met with most of the state’s congressional delegation to request additional disaster relief. As part of the emergency supplemental funding, they want to have congress move that $2.5 billion need to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to design a program that would take into consideration people who had crop insurance and the level of losses, based on the seven hurricanes that swept through Florida in 2004-2005.

“There’s a proven model out there that has worked in the past that we’re asking Congress to fund,” he said.

Boca Raton Democrat Kevin Radar said that a lot of Florida farmers were in Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), which means that they may not be compensated for as many as nine months from now. He asked Putnam, a former congressman, if there was anything that could be done to speed up that process?

“That’s why we have to go get sort of a special category of disaster relief from USDA,” Putnam responded, adding that the department previously had the flexibility to administer those programs internally, but after the last Farm Bill was passed that power now is up to Congress.

Putnam said he and Scott asked that Florida’s needs be inserted in the current disaster relief bill from FEMA that the House will vote on Thursday and the Senate next week. He said the odds of that happening weren’t great, however, meaning that it may not be until the next replenishment for FEMA may not come before Congress until Christmas.

“Specialty crop states like Florida are not adequately protected from risk management tools that the crop insurance was designed to provide,” Putnam said, adding that it’s been long time problem which has yet to be addressed.

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