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Here's why Adam Putnam starts his campaign for governor as a front runner

Putnamkickoff

@JeremySWallace

There is a big reason Adam Putnam begins his campaign for governor as an early front runner.

Make that 11 million reasons.

Even before he stepped to the microphone in downtown Bartow to announce he was running for governor, Putnam has spent the last three years socking campaign donations away into a political committee that can help him in his run for the state’s highest office in 2018.

Since 2014, Putnam has raised $11.4 million for the political committee he calls Florida Grown. He has spent about $3.1 million, leaving him with $8.3 million in the committee.

No other declared candidates can match those numbers. Neither can any of the candidates who are expected to consider running.

State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, told The Buzz today he’s still considering making a run but won’t make a decision until later this summer. Latvala has raised $8.2 million in his political committee, called the Florida Leadership Committee, since 2013. He has spent $5 million of that, leaving him with more than $3 million in the committee.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, could also be in the mix as conservative groups in D.C. have been pushing him to make another statewide run. He dropped out of the 2016 U.S. Senate race after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio re-joined the contest. DeSantis is sitting on $1.7 million in his federal campaign account, which could be moved into a state political committee. There is also another $750,000 remaining in a super PAC that organized to support his U.S. Senate campaign that could ultimately support him.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, said he won’t make a decision until next year. In his political committee called Florida Roundtable, he has raised almost $2.6 million since 2013 but spent nearly $2.4 million. He has less than $200,000 in cash on hand in that committee.

On the Democratic side, Orlando businessman Chris King has already raised $1.4 million in his main campaign account and spent $207,000. Besides that $1.2 million left over, he also has $350,000 in a political action committee he runs called Rise and Lead, Florida.

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat, has said she’s up to $1.6 million after transferring $1.2 million from her former congressional campaign account. That also includes $429,000 she has raised in a political committee she has called Our Florida.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has raised more than $400,000 in his main campaign account for governor and spent about $95,000 of that according to state records. He also has another nearly $470,000 in a political committee he runs called Forward Florida.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has not filed to run for governor, but has begun building up a political committee that could help on that front. He has put $2 million into a committee called All About Florida.

Attorney John Morgan has also said he’s considering get into the race. Morgan said he does he would “largely self-fund any campaign.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam held a rally in Polk County on Wednesday to kick off his campaign for governor in 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES/Tampa Bay Times)

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