Adam Putnam Archives - Florida Politics

Jack Latvala vows more mental health, substance abuse money, rips Richard Corcoran

Speaking before a crowd of mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala promised more money for their causes and lashed out at Speaker Richard Corcoran and House Republicans for neglecting them.

Latvala, the Republican state Senator from Clearwater who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said Florida has neglected mental health and substance abuse funding because the House is too interested in cutting taxes to consider funding necessary services.

Speaking to the Florida Behavioral Health Conference at Walt Disney World, Latvala vowed he’d do a better job of getting money for those programs.

“Since 2000 we’ve cut $2.7 billion in recurring taxes. That’s $2.7 billion more each year that could be spent on mental health, substance abuse, education, environment, all of the things that we have to provide as a state for our citizens,” Latvala said.

“This area that you work in has not been properly death with, has been actually neglected,” he added.

At one point Latvala recognized Republican state Rep. Jason Brodeur of Sanford, the chairman of the House Health Care Appropriations Committee, and said the lack of funding for mental health and substance abuse programs was not Brodeur’s fault, but his boss’s. And then he ripped into Corcoran, who may announce a campaign to run for governor himself.

For now, Latvala’s rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“Richard Corcoran, what he knows about real-life problems like you deal with every day, he reads in a book. He also reads in that same book, the Koch brothers’ manifesto, about how you first cut taxes, and how people should help themselves, and the government should not people,” Latvala said.

Latvala accepted some of the blame for limited funding for mental health and substance abuse programs, confessing he was new at appropriations and “maybe we dropped the ball a little” in dealing with the House budget proposals this year. But he said it would not happen again.

“I will guarantee you Senate support for any budget amendment that calls for increases in substance abuse funding,” he said, drawing thunderous applause.

He then spoke of the heroin and opioid epidemic and said “This is not satisfactory to have 20 or so Floridians dying every day from opioid overdoses.”

Firefighters in Orlando, Miami back Jack Latvala for governor

Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala has picked up endorsements of two major firefighters unions in his quest for the Republican nomination to run for governor next year, his campaign announced Thursday.

The endorsements come less than 24 hours after Latvala formally kicked off his campaign Wednesday in Hialeah, Clearwater and Panama City.

Latvala received the endorsements of the Miami Association of Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 589; and of the Orlando Professional Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1365.

“Local 1365 is grateful for the support that you have given to firefighters and other first responders during your time in the Florida Legislature,” Orlando Professional Firefighters President Ron Glass stated in a letter to Latvala quoted in a news release from Latvala’s campaign. “Your ability to reach consensus with members of both parties was instrumental in providing firefighters from across the state of Florida with stable careers, better working conditions and a pension that allows them to retire with dignity.”

Latvala faces Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam for the Republican nomination. Democrats running include former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Winter Park developer Chris King, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

“The firefighters of this state have forged a very strong bond with you and you have proven capable of making the difficult decisions to ensure that your firefighters are afforded equitable safety condition and benefit levels,” Miami Association of Firefighters President Freddy Delgado stated in a separate letter quoted by the campaign. “Some of those decisions have included protection of our current defined benefit retirement and fighting for firefighter cancer presumption in the State of Florida.”

Latvala kicked off his campaign outside Fire Station #7 in Hialeah.

“I stood with more than 100 first responders when I kicked off my campaign outside Fire Station #7 in Hialeah yesterday to show my continued support for the men and women who work so tirelessly to protect all Floridians,” Latvala stated in the release. “I am humbled and honored to have their support and thank the Miami Association of Firefighters Local 587 of the International Association of Fire Fighters and Orlando Professional Firefighters Local 1365 for joining me in my campaign to be the state’s next governor.”

Matt Caldwell endorsed by five Southwest Florida representatives

Agriculture Commissioner candidate and Lehigh Acres Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell rolled out a string of endorsements  from his Republican colleagues in the state house.

Caldwell earned the support of five Republican representatives: Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle, Heather Fitzenhagen, Bob Rommel and Ray Rodrigues.

“I am proud to have unanimous support from House members in Southwest Florida, a tight-knit and dynamic group who share conservative principles and have been effective in shaping policy and ensuring prosperity for the Sunshine State. Floridians deserve a Commissioner who is a true conservative that can lead in Tallahassee on day one and, with hard work and God’s blessing, our campaign will be successful,” Caldwell said.

Rodrigues, Donalds and Eagle praised Caldwell as a conservative leader, Fitzenhagen lauded him for for his “understanding and experience, while Rommel described the Lee County Republican as the candidate who best embodied his ideals for the next commissioner: “resilient, hardworking and knowledgeable about the issues our farmers deal with on a daily basis.”

“Matt Caldwell’s proven record of leadership and success in the Florida House make him the most qualified person for this important office,” Fitzenhagen said. “I am thrilled to support Matt and I urge you to join me in voting for him.”

The Southwest Florida quintet chose the fourth-term HD 79 representative over his major primary opponent, Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley, who on Tuesday was gifted the opportunity for some on-the-job training when Senate President Joe Negron named her chair of  the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The pair are looking to take over for Adam Putnam, who is termed out of the job and is running to be governor in 2018, and both of them have found quite a bit of fundraising success.

Grimsley announced last week that she had raised a total of $1.1 million through her campaign and “Saving Florida’s Heartland” committee. Caldwell’s total fundraising through his campaign account and “Friends of Matt Caldwell” committee crossed the $1 million mark at the end of July. He has $878,000 of that money on hand.

Also running in the Republican Primary are former Rep. Baxter Troutman and Paul Paulson, both of whom have dumped large sums of their own money into their campaigns. Troutman filed in mid-June and added $2.5 million into his bid, while Paulson has put nearly $400,000 of his own money into the race.

Jack Latvala says he’ll capture more Trump voters than GOP opponents

While President Trump is being disparaged this week even by some Republicans following his controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them, Jack Latvala showed no qualms about the commander in chief when he said Wednesday that Trump voters in Florida may look more favorably upon his candidacy for governor than his opponents.

“I’m looking at a field that’s made up of people who have been in government their entire lives—either in elective office or as a staff member—and don’t have any business experience and have never really had those challenges that those of us that have businesses have, and I just think that the party who nominated Donald Trump (is) not going to be comfortable with nominating somebody like that,” Latvala told Tampa 820 AM host Dan Maduri on Wednesday.

Trump easily defeated Marco Rubio in the Florida Republican presidential primary more than a year ago, before capturing the Sunshine State narrowly over Hillary Clinton in last fall’s presidential election.

The 63-year-old Clearwater state senator was referring to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and House Speaker Richard Corcoran when he said that, unlike his opponents, he has no desire to run for higher office than governor, saying that leading Florida would be his ultimate destination.

“It’s a never ending ladder and I’m at the end of the ladder,” he said. “I’m old enough that this is my last race for anything, and I just want to get in and do what’s got to be done to solve some of these problems and straighten things out.”

Putnam declared his candidacy back in March, and remains the presumptive favorite in the race, thanks in part to his prodigious fundraising and simply the fact that he’s so well known after serving in politics for nearly half of his 43-year-old life. Corcoran has not declared for office, though he is expected to early in 2018.

Latvala announced last month that he would pledge to raise $50,000 over the next six months for the Republican Party of Florida. He told Maduri that someone has to do it, since Rick Scott and other high profile Republicans are raising money for their own political committees.

“The governor doesn’t participate with the party, the Cabinet members haven’t done that, and the leadership of the party is all out raising money for themselves, for their own PACS and own campaigns, and it’s taking it’s toll on the party,” he said. “We’ve got to remember the party.”

Latvala spoke to him the Tampa radio station en route to the Panhandle, where he was scheduled to make his third and final appearance around the state as he officially kicked off his run for governor on Wednesday.

(Photo credit: Kim DeFalco)

Sometime surly senator enters Florida’s governor’s race

Jack Latvala — a powerful, sometimes surly state senator seen as a moderate Republican voice — entered the race for Florida Governor Wednesday, taking on a better-known, more conservative and better-funded primary opponent Adam Putnam for the GOP nomination to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

Latvala publicly announced his candidacy at a fire station in a Hialeah, a Hispanic-majority city that borders Miami. In the crowd were groups of senior citizens, police officers and state employee union members. He also was joined by his son Chris, who is a state representative. He later planned to stop at a Tampa Bay-area aquarium in his hometown of Clearwater before ending the tour at a Panama City marina.

Latvala is considered a moderate Republican and told the group he is proud to have friends on both sides of the political aisle.

Republican challenger Putnam is the incumbent agriculture commissioner. Democrats seeking the seat Scott must leave due to term limits include former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Leading up to his announcement, Latvala has spent time talking about the need to make sure rural Florida is also benefiting from the state’s economic rebound, and he’s spoken out about the need to treat opioid abuse as a crisis.

Latvala, 65, has served two stints in the Florida Senate, the first from 1994 to 2002, when he left because of term limits. He returned to the Senate in 2010 and will again be term-limited next year. He is the current Senate budget chairman and has previously led the chamber’s efforts to tighten ethics in state government and require political candidates to be more transparent about fundraising and campaign spending.

“He fights very hard for the issues he cares about, and sometimes that puts him at odds with some fellow party members, but he cares passionately,” said Evan Power, chairman of the Leon County GOP.

He’s not afraid to buck his party’s leadership and has taken more moderate views on issues such as immigration. He helped fight back an effort to change the state’s pension system that was supported by top Republicans and opposed by state workers, and helped kill a bill that would have opened Florida to fracking, an effort that was supported by many in the GOP.

But he will be entering the race as an underdog to Putnam, 43, who first ran for office 22 years ago and has seemingly spent his entire adult life building toward a run for governor.

“Commissioner Putnam has positioned himself well for this race and he’s been working for it, and I think he has the infrastructure at the early end to have that place as the front-runner,” said Power, whose group hosted Putnam Tuesday night.

Putnam was asked Tuesday night about Latvala’s entry into the race, and he chose not to discuss the new challenger.

“I’m focused on the race that I’m running. If you ain’t the lead dog in the fight, the view never changes,” Putnam said. “I’m just going to be working grass roots, pig-pullings and fish fries from Key West to Chumukla.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is also considering running for governor, wouldn’t say a word when asked about Latvala getting in the race, simply shaking his head “no” as the Leon County GOP barbecue wrapped up

Latvala, however, hasn’t been shy about poking Putnam, using Twitter to jab him even before submitting paperwork to get in the race last week.

After Putnam attended a Possum Festival, an annual event in a small Panhandle town that’s popular with politicians, Latvala tweeted, “While there will be a time to pose with possums, I am more focused on jobs in NW FL.”

And when Putnam said he was a proud “sellout” to the National Rifle Association, Latvala tweeted a political cartoon mocking Putnam, adding his own message, “I will never sell out to anyone, anytime.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Adam Putnam: Fight hatred, but don’t fight over statues

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the leading Republican candidate for governor, said Tuesday that Americans don’t need to fight about Confederate statues and should instead focus on fighting the country’s 21st-century enemies.

Putnam condemned white supremacists and the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, but said the country should not be fighting over the U.S. Civil War and erasing the nation’s history.

“What’s going on in Charlottesville is just awful and it’s hate and it’s violent and it’s dark and it’s got no place in our society,” Putnam told about 160 people gathered for a Leon County Republican barbecue dinner. “And we ought to be focused more on eradicating hate today than eradicating yesteryear’s history.”

Putnam’s family arrived in Florida in the mid-1800s and he is the fifth generation of ranchers and farmers. He’s also a former congressman who rose to become the fourth most powerful Republican in the U.S. House before returning to Florida, where he is serving his second term as agriculture commissioner.

Putnam said students need to be taught the history of the Civil War, in addition to the country’s involvement in fighting both Nazi Germany as well as more present-day enemies, such as those that planned the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Those are the lessons of history that we have to eternalize, and not have a big fight over something that happened 150 years ago, but have a fight about how to make America stronger and more united today against the enemies today – the people who want to eradicate capitalism and free enterprise and democracy,” he said. Those battles, he said, are preferable to “having a fight about a statue that most people just walk past and assume it’s just a pigeon roost anyway.”

Apparently that also includes a Confederate monument on the grounds of the Florida Capitol, where Putnam has worked the last seven years and where he previously served as a state legislator. Some people are calling for its removal.

“As much as I love history, I’ve never noticed it. Where is it? What is it?” Putnam said when asked about the monument, which honors Confederate soldiers from Leon County who died in the Civil War. It has been on the Capitol grounds since 1882.

Putnam is seeking the seat being vacated by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who will leave office in January 2019 due to term limits.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Chris King calls for removal of all Confederate monuments

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King called Tuesday for the removal of all Confederate memorials in Florida.

Taking to Facebook, King posted, “It’s time to remove all the Confederate monuments in Florida. These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people.

“And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day,” he added.

King faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee in seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018. The Republican field has Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam of Bartow and state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater who’ve filed, with Latvala planning to make an official announcement Wednesday. Others, including Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran are raising money but have made no commitments.

Gillum also called for action on the monuments, but first called for conversation on them. Last week he also informed Walton County he would not be visiting their community until they took down the Confederate flag in front of the courthouse.

“Like many people, I want local governments to take action to remove these monuments. But more than just the necessary step of removing them, we need a real conversation in Florida about inclusion and building community,” Gillum said in a statement. “I created the Longest Table initiative in Tallahassee so neighbors could sit at a table together and discuss the most pressing issues facing them and their communities. Tough but honest conversations will help heal this state and country.”

King was more succinct.

“It’s time for Florida to put its fealty and energy not toward monuments to a divided past, but toward a vision of the future that provides for common growth. Florida values diversity, but simply saying so understates the case,” King continued. “Florida’s economic engine is built on diversity. We are a state of many races, faiths and languages, each making our state a great place to live in, and each underpinning our economy. But our economic engine has been held back for far too long by the ghosts of the past.”

Confederate memorials have been sources of racial tension for generations, but recently their presence has evoked public demonstrations and demands for their removal, notably in Orlando, Gainesville, Tampa, and now in Jacksonville, while supporters of the monuments contend they are part of the state’s history. Last weekend efforts seeking removal of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Va., led to a protest march of white supremacists and the killing of an opposition protester, setting the heat even higher.

On Monday Gov. Rick Scott said the time will come for conversations on Confederate monuments. King said in his Facebook post the time is now.

“Removing Confederate monuments is not just the right thing to do for Florida values and its citizens, but the smart thing to do for Florida’s economy,” King continued. “In order to unleash Florida’s economic potential, and attract the jobs and investment we need to grow into the national leader we should be, it’s time to position Florida as a state with eyes set on the future.”

Adam Putnam: Nobody knows Florida better than I

Adam Putnam assured the 200 or so delegates to his breakfast at the Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting in Orlando Saturday that he knows their towns, he knows their roads, he knows their barbecue places, and he knows their hopes, dreams, and struggles of living somewhere that’s not on an Interstate exit.

The Florida agriculture commissioner and former state lawmaker and former U.S. Congressman running for governor spun his theme of Florida being the greatest state, where everyone wants to visit or live, while pressing conservatism, urging that Florida must be “the launching pad of the American dream,” and warning of liberal uprisings, with “The left is coming for us!”

And, most of all, the candidate turned on his folksy side, reminded everyone he’s a fifth-generation Floridian with a ranch outside of Bartow, and strove to connect with Republicans in too-often-ignored rural areas and small towns from the Keys to the western panhandle.

Putnam, alone in the Republican race for governor until Friday, now has serious competition for the Republican primary nomination. State Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater filed to run Friday and addressed the Republican convention Friday night. Potential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach was to address the crowd Saturday afternoon. House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O’ Lakes also is a real prospect.

On Saturday morning, Putnam was positioning himself as the grassroots candidate.

He spoke of how two-thirds of Floridians don’t have college degrees so the state must put more emphasis on technical training and less on trying to get everyone to go to college. He spoke of making sure everyone has the chance to start their own businesses, and don’t dismiss someone starting out with a lawn-care business.

“I know our state,” Putnam said. “I know every corner of our state. I’ve been down every four-lane, every dirt road. I know all the barbecue restaurants. If you need a tip I can tell you where the best pulled-pork meal is, where the best brisket is, who’s got the best chicken. I know our state like the back of my hand. I am dedicated to the future of our state.”

From there, he appeared to respond to Latvala’s comments Friday night, when the House Appropriations Committee chairman lashed out at other candidates, whom he didn’t name, whom he accused of forgetting the needs of the Republican Party of Florida while they pursued their own careers, and of raising money for their own causes, without contributing to the party.

“We’re going to bring this state together. And this party is a part of that. It’s an integral part of that,” Putnam said to the party loyalists at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. “It’s not us against them. It’s not Bradford versus Highlands. It’s not the party versus the electeds. You have seen me at your meetings and in your Lincoln Days…. I can’t succeed as a governor if we don’t succeed as a party.”

 

It’s official: Jack Latvala opens up campaign account to run for Florida governor

As if we should be surprised, state Sen. Jack Latvala on Friday opened a new campaign account and filed paperwork with the state’s Division of Elections to run for Florida governor.

“My papers were filed by 5-year-old Rays fan Cooper Bishop!” the newly minted candidate tweeted shortly after noon, including a picture of a smiling boy wearing a Tampa Bay Rays uniform holding Latvala’s paperwork.

Latvala still plans to make an official announcement about his 2018 plans next Wednesday. Still, these filings are necessary first steps under Florida law for him to launch a gubernatorial campaign.

The Clearwater Republican, who chairs the Senate’s influential Appropriations Committee, had said he would announce his future political plans on Aug. 16. He’s term-limited in his Senate District 16 seat next year; Latvala was previously in the Senate 1994-2002.

“As a small-business owner and public servant, I have a track record of getting things done and solving problems,” Latvala has said. “One thing you can always expect from me too is when I give you my word, I will keep it.”

The announcement was certainly expected. A clear signal of a gubernatorial run came when FloridaPolitics.com reported that Latvala’s “Florida Leadership Committee” retained prominent GOP ad maker Fred Davis.

Last week, Latvala sharply criticized House Speaker Richard Corcoran, particularly over the House’s efforts to overhaul VISIT Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm, say9ing it was “all about making political points, all about trying to make headlines, trying to raise your name identification, whatever.”

Corcoran defended the legislation as an effort to bring “more transparency and accountability” to the marketing program.

Although Latvala is a fixture in Tampa Bay politics, he has never run a statewide race, and first must overcome a relative lack of name recognition throughout Florida.

Moreover, Latvala’s “Florida Leadership Committee,” has about $3.85 million on hand for the same period. But since he wasn’t actively running for office in 2018, Latvala had no on-hand campaign funds.

The only major Republican now officially running for governor is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Between his campaign account and fundraising committee “Florida Grown,” Putnam finished July with a little under $12 million on hand.

Also considering a gubernatorial run are Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has a supporting committee that raised nearly $1.3 million through the end of July.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post, with permission.

Jack Latvala adds two stops for Aug. 16 announcement

To outline his future political plans, Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala added two more stops to his Aug. 16 announcement – turning what was to be a single event into something of a tour.

Last week, the Pinellas County Republican said he would publicly announce whether he will enter the race for governor with a news conference at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. While that stop is still on the docket, attendees at the event will not be the first to hear of Latvala’s plans.

Preceding the 1 p.m. Aquarium appearance is a 9 a.m. announcement outside Fire Station 7 on 24th Avenue in Hialeah. Then, at 5 p.m. Panama City time (6 p.m. Eastern), Latvala is hosting another event at the Sun Harbor Arena.

“As a small-business owner and public servant, I have a track record of getting things done and solving problems,” Latvala said. “One thing you can always expect from me too is when I give you my word, I will keep it.”

“And on Wednesday, I give you my word, you will know what my future plans entail.”

As for which other public officials will be at each event, Latvala said more details will be released in the coming days.

A three-stop tour — covering more than 600 miles by car — would normally be quite an unusual production, particularly if the longtime lawmaker does not announce a bid for governor.

And if he declares another statewide seat, it would come as a shock to many.

Another clear signal of a gubernatorial run came Wednesday when FloridaPolitics.com reported that Latvala’s “Florida Leadership Committee” retained prominent GOP ad maker Fred Davis.

Currently, the only major Republican running for governor is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Between his campaign account and fundraising committee “Florida Grown,” Putnam finished July with a little under $12 million on hand.

Comparatively, Latvala’s “Florida Leadership Committee,” has about $3.85 million on hand for the same period. But since he is not (yet) running for office in 2018, Latvala has no on-hand campaign funds.

 

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons