October 12, 2017

Every Floridian in Congress votes for $36.5 billion hurricane relief bill

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@alextdaugherty 

All 27 Floridians in the House of Representatives voted in favor of a $36.5 billion hurricane relief bill on Thursday, a measure that funds the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other hurricane relief programs as the federal government manages a massive recovery effort in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. 

The bill now heads to the Senate, which is not in session this week, for approval. 

"In the weeks following Hurricane Irma, we are able to see the lasting effects this storm will have on our community, and it is evident that additional funding is necessary," Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said in a statement. Diaz-Balart is a leading member of the congressional committee that oversees federal spending. 

"This legislation delivers over $18 billion directly to FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, ensures the National Flood Insurance Program has the funding it needs to pay its claims, and grants food aid and loan eligibility to the storm-ravaged island of Puerto Rico," Diaz-Balart said. 

The bill passed the House by a vote of 353-69. All 69 "no" votes were Republicans, who were mainly concerned that the bill did not include federal spending offsets and did not overhaul the nation's flood insurance program. Instead, the bill included $16 billion to keep the nation's flood insurance program running as thousands of policyholders file claims after the hurricanes. 

"The NFIP urgently needs an overhaul, and until the House passes legislation that reforms this fractured program, I cannot support a $16 billion bailout that further kicks this problem to the future," said Texas Republican Roger Williams, one of the "no" votes, in a statement. 

Florida has the more national flood insurance policyholders than any other state. 

The bill also includes nearly $5 billion in low-interest loans to Puerto Rico to help the U.S. territory rebuild after Hurricane Maria. 

Thursday's bill did not include $2.5 billion in Department of Agriculture funding to help Florida's citrus industry recover from the storm. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was in Washington on Wednesday to push for the money's inclusion, but there wasn't enough time to get the provision in the bill, according to Rep. Tom Rooney's office. 

"I will fight to ensure Florida’s agricultural industry has the resources it needs to get back on their feet," Diaz-Balart said. 

A third hurricane relief bill is expected in the coming weeks, where Putnam's proposal and other Florida-specific provisions will be under consideration. 

Congress passed an initial $15 billion hurricane aid bill in September after Hurricane Harvey caused widespread flooding in Texas. Two Florida Republicans, Reps. Matt Gaetz and Ted Yoho, voted against that bill after President Donald Trump negotiated a deal with Democrats to raise the nation's debt ceiling as part of the relief package. Gaetz called that package "generational theft." 

 

August 28, 2017

How Richard Corcoran prepares for a possible 2018 run for governor

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says he won't announce whether he'll run for governor until seven months from now, after the 2018 legislative session. But the Pasco County Republican is laying the groundwork for a candidacy in a field where Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has a big head start and where Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has entered the field.

He may run and he may not, but Corcoran, 52, who began his rise through Republican ranks as a campaign strategist, has the instincts of an operative and the travel schedule of a full-time candidate. Whether dining with donors at Tampa's Capital Grillle or borrowing lobbyist friend Bill Rubin's Fort Lauderdale conference room to huddle with consultants, Corcoran keeps much of his political activity under the radar and does not publicize what he's doing.

Read more here about the four signs of a budding candidacy.

July 25, 2017

Was Adam Putnam, candidate for Florida governor, in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants?

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@amysherman1

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has largely had the Republican field for governor to himself, but the camp of one potential primary challenger has portrayed Putnam as soft on immigration and undocumented immigrants.

Tony Fabrizio, a pollster hired by Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran who may challenge Putnam in the 2018 primary, cast Putnam as not being conservative enough.

"He was for amnesty," Fabrizio told Politico July 10, while criticizing Putnam’s positions on a long list of issues.

That a-word can be a powerful weapon in a Republican primary. But we found that Putnam’s record on immigration can’t be boiled down to a soundbite.

As a member of Congress from 2001 to 2010, Putnam represented a Central Florida district that included agribusiness interests that wanted immigrant labor. Putnam supported legislation that would have benefitted undocumented farm workers, and he supported changing immigration laws which included a path to citizenship.

But he also took some stances that didn’t benefit undocumented immigrants, such as opposing the DREAM Act and increasing enforcement.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

July 18, 2017

Putnam: 'There is absolutely a pathway for Florida to get to a form of open carry'

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@ByKristenMClark

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a top Republican contender for governor next year, said he would support proposed changes in Florida law to let "law-abiding gun owners" carry firearms on college and university campuses and openly in public places.

Conservative lawmakers in the Florida Legislature have pushed for both proposals, but in the past two years, the measures died in the Senate where moderate Miami-Dade Republicans used their influence to halt the bills. The pieces of legislation -- strongly supported by the National Rifle Association -- are likely to return in the 2018 session, and Putnam told reporters Tuesday the concepts have his endorsement.

"There is absolutely a pathway for Florida to get to a form of open carry," said Putnam, the lone Republican gubernatorial candidate to date.

"We have a track record in Florida of law-abiding citizens who submit their fingerprints, undergo a background check and lawfully exercise their 2nd Amendment rights," Putnam said in reference to Florida's process of obtaining a concealed-weapons permit. "Continuing to expand their opportunities to exercise those 2nd Amendment rights is something I support."

Full story here.

Photo credit: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, speaks at a press conference Tuesday at the Florida National Guard Armory in Tallahassee. Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times

June 12, 2017

Putnam touts Florida's increased access to concealed weapons on anniversary of Pulse massacre

via @adamsmithtimes

Republican gubernatoirial candidate Adam Putnam has long touted Florida's status as the number one state for concealed weapons permits and his efforts to make that system more efficient for consumers. But doing so the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, the worst mass shooting in America's history, may raise some eyebrows.

"You can run government like a business and save money and deliver value to the people who make government possible through your hard-earned tax dollars," Putnam said in Bradenton today, as seen on this video the Democratic group American Bridge found on Putnam's Facebook page. "And we've proven that. And Florida is number one in concealed weapons license holders - people lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights."

 

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

May 23, 2017

Putnam on early campaign shakeup: 'You're always adjusting'

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via @adamsmithtimes

In a sign of unsteadiness for what had looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner for governor suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director.

Hard-charging campaign manager Kristin Davison and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join Putnam's senior political team, along with former National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Ward Baker, who remains with the campaign.

The sudden shakeup came after the completion of an ambitious, ostensibly successful and well-organized 10-day bus tour immediately after Putnam's long expected announcement for governor. The firings threaten to overshadow the strong rollout and raise doubts about the readiness of Putnam, 42, who has never faced a truly competitve campaign since his first primary for the Florida House at age 21.

The good news is he still has a veteran team of political hands at his side, including Baker and longtime Putnam adviser Mac Stevenson, among others.

"We're very grateful for her efforts to help this campaign get off to the strongest possible launch," said Putnam campaign spokeswoman Amanda Bevis. "We wish her the best."

On Tuesday, talking to reporters after Cabinet, Putnam had this to say about staff turnover: "This is a grassroots movement and I’m very excited about the team that we have and I wish the team members who’ve moved on to other things the very best. ... You’re always adjusting and modifying as you move forward."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

May 15, 2017

Adam Putnam brings his campaign for Florida governor to Broward

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@amysherman1

The tony Fort Lauderdale beachside hotel where Adam Putnam campaigned for Florida governor Monday was entirely different territory from the historic Polk County Courthouse where he debuted his candidacy last week, surrounded by crates of Florida oranges and the sounds of a marching-band fiddle.

In Broward, the most liberal county in the state, Putnam knew to offer the sort of business-friendly message that binds Republicans together.

“Whether you grow up in downtown Pompano or in a small town in the middle of the state like where I’m from we need to have a job climate in Florida that doesn’t require you to leave your town to find a decent career,” Putnam said at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.

Keep reading here.

Miami Herald photo by Emily Michot of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam speaking with Bob Swindell, with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, and Jose Basulto, with Memorial Hospital System.

May 10, 2017

Putnam says Scott shouldn't veto entire budget

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via @adamsmithtimes

After formally kicking off his campaign for governor in one of the most picturesque launches we've seen from a Florida politician in a long time, Adam Putnam breezed through a line of reporters by his campaign bus to quickly answer one question per reporter. Some he answered directly, others not so much.

On whether Gov. Rick Scott should veto the whole budget passed by the legislature: "I would take a large veto pen to the line items. I think that vetoing the whole thing throws it back into the hands of the legislature, and it's a blunt force instrument. I think that the governor can more successfully impose his views through the use of the line item veto."

On whether he might support Florida seeking a waiver, allowed under the U.S. House's American Health Care Act, from the requirement that insurance must accept people with pre-existing conditions and charge them the same as people without: "It's something that has huge impacts on Florida, and the next governor and the current governor aee going to need to make sure that whatever Washington does is not something that is going to further reduce choices and stand between patients and doctors. We have a situation in Florida now where a large number of our counties only have one (provider) option. That's not a viable solution."

On the suggestion that Putnam is a career politician, at a time when political outsiders are in favor: "Floridians want a governor who knows the state, who knows the problems facing our state and how to fix them and how to treat people along the way. My experience managing crises from managing wildfires to managing a large organization and bringing a business background to this is going to make me the most prepared candidate for governor regardless of who runs."

On whether he could face a strong primary challenge from the right; "I'm a Bartow-raised farmer, and I'm a conservative. Anyone who wants to run for governor is welcome to pack a lunch and come on."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Putnam: Florida can be 'launch pad for the American Dream'

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via @adamsmithtimes

BARTOW -- Adam Putnam, the fifth generation Florida native and Republican agriculture commissioner, has been planning and building towards his gubernatorial campaign for years if not decades. On Wednesday he offered his vision for where he next wants to lead Florida Florida.

“We’ve got to put Florida first to make sure that it isn’t only the place where people come after a life well-lived somewhere else; it’s where they come to launch their own American Dream," said Putnam, the 42-year-old former congressional leader and product of a prominent agriculture family. 

“Our state can be the launch pad for the American Dream," he said. "The state that is the fishing capital of the world can also be the state that builds the boats and trains the craftsmen. The state that trained millions of soldiers and sailors and airmen can retrain our citizens with the skills that allow them to compete in a rapidly changing world – and win. The state that put a man on the moon can build the tools for the next giant leap for mankind."

It was a setting befitting Norman Rockwell, with Putnam in front of crates of Florida oranges and the domed, 108-year-old historic Polk County Courthouse draped with the flags of Florida and America. Supporters were entertained by the Polk High marching band and the fiddle and double base of Lakeland's Brian Southerland Band.

"Some people say that this doesn't exist any more," said Putnam, noting the flags waving and prayer on the courthouse steps

Republicans have controlled the governor's office and Tallahasee for nearly two decades, and Putnam on Wednesday sounded like he saw little need for a change in direction. He spoke broadly of focusing on education, and job-training, as well as protecting gun rights and Florida's natural resources.

“American exceptionalism is real. If you ever doubt that.  Look at the grocery clerk in Lakeland who revolutionized the supermarket industry, Or the cashier on I-Drive who now owns the souvenir shop. It’s the truck driver hauling fruit who saved up to buy an orange grove, and then another. It’s the hotel maid who now runs her own bed and breakfast," Putnam said before a crowd of nearly 1,000 people. 

“Hard-working folks like these have been able to achieve their American Dream right here in Florida. I want every single Floridian to be able to tell a similar story. I want people around the country to know this is where it happens. It’s why we have more work to do. It’s why we’ve got to keep fighting to put Florida first and make our state the launch pad for the American dream. “And it’s why I am running for Governor of the great state of Florida."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Here's Putnam's team for Florida governor campaign

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via @adamsmithtimes

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who on Wednesday morning formally kicks off his campaign for governor on the steps of  the 108-year-old former Polk County Courthouse in his hometown of Bartow, has assembled an A-list campaign team. Potentially more important is his Imperial Polk County DNA, considering the political giants Polk has produced for Florida.

The operatives on Putnam's team include veterans of Putnam's two decade political career, including Mac Stevenson of Sarasota-based Political Insights, and Justin Hollis, handling fundraising. Amanda Bevis, Putnam's former deputy chief of staff at the state Department of Agriculture, is handling communications.

The Tarrance Group, which has helped elect dozens of senators and governors, including Govs. John Kasich of Ohio, Scott Walker of Wisconson, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, and Mitch Snyder of Michigan, is the pollster. Putnam's ad guy is Jim Innocenzi of Sandler-Innocenzi, which for three decades has worked with clients including Ben Carson, Govs. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, Butch Otter of Idaho, and Jim Gibbons of Nevada, and Florida U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney and John Mica.

Continue reading "Here's Putnam's team for Florida governor campaign" »