A six-county Whistle Stop tour through the Panhandle on Saturday showcased a number of lesser know Republican candidates fighting for attention amid the Marco Rubio-Charlie Crist showdown and gubernatorial hopeful Rick Scott's big-money campaign.
With sweat soaking through shirts and campaign fliers doubling as hand fans, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, an agriculture commissioner candidate, and Holly Benson, a former state lawmaker running for attorney general, showed that retail politicking still holds a place in a state known for its media-market campaigns.
Observations from the campaign trail:
--The details: The tour began at 9 a.m. central time in Chipley before stopping in Bonifay, DeFuniak Springs, Ft. Walton Beach, Gulf Breeze and finally ending in Pensacola at 6 p.m. The crowds varied from the 25 people under a park pavilion in Gulf Breeze to the 200 awaiting the statewide and local candidates in Ft. Walton. The oppressive heat, with temperatures topping 100 degrees, kept enthusiasm to a minimum. In fact, in DeFuniak Springs, a tense auction for a two-layer patriotic cake drew more participant attention than most candidates.