The leading Republican candidate for governor and two would-be rivals converged on Bonita Springs this week for the summer conference of Florida sheriffs.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam addressed the group Monday as did House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, is there Tuesday. So is Gov. Rick Scott as he plots a run for U.S. Senate.
Corcoran is one of 21 lawmakers given a "Friend of the Sheriff" award for his support of their agenda. Latvala was one of five "champions" for his support for a prolific juvenile offender law aimed at reducing Pinellas' epidemic of car thefts.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Putnam spoke in support of law enforcement and "it was what you would expect from somebody in his position." Alachua Sheriff Sadie Darnell said Putnam "talked about the grandeur of Florida" in a luncheon speech, and recalled Putnam saying he doesn't want Florida to become like Colorado and California with their tolerance of recreational marijuana use.
Both sheriffs said Putnam did not discuss guns, and that the issues of campus carry and open carry didn't come up. The sheriffs' group has opposed open carry and campus carry bills in Tallahassee, though some individual sheriffs are supportive. Putnam last week described "absolutely a pathway" to a form of open carry in Florida, which has the support of the National Rifle Association. For the second straight year, an open carry bill wasa blocked by moderate Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Florida Sheriffs Association cannot endorse candidates, but individual sheriffs can, and in many parts of Florida, sheriffs are the most prominent elected countywide officials.