2018 governor’s race

Tear down that monument!

Chris King, a Democrat who’s running for governor, left no doubt where he stands on the issue of Confederate monuments on public property.

King, a Winter Park businessman, wants them all gone.

“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,” King said in a statement. “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.”

King issued the statement after a deadly clash in Charlottesville, Va., that left one person dead after a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters following a “Unite the Right” rally.

There’s a Confederate monument outside the state Capitol in Tallahassee, erected “to rescue from oblivion and perpetuate in the memory of succeeding generations the heroic patriotism of the men of Leon County who perished in the Civil War of 1861-1865,” according to the inscription.
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A number of Florida cities, including Jacksonville, are now grappling with what to do with the Confederate statues. Workers in Gainesville began tearing down a monument Monday outside the Alachua County Courthouse.

That’s the same city where white nationalist Richard Spencer, who participated in the Charlottesville event, may speak at the University of Florida next month.

Here’s King’s full statement:

“It’s time for the orderly removal 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.

“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. 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.

“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. 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.”

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.

They’ll pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye

 Florida has “glory days” ahead for space exploration, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — and GOP governor’s mansion wannabe — predicted Tuesday.

Putnam made the rosy pitch to a space-friendly crowd at the Florida Chamber of Commerce‘s Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit.

“The golden age for space for Florida, (not) because of our legacy in space, but because of the private sector investment, our golden age is in front of us, not behind us,” Putnam said at the event, held at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld.

Pointing to an emerging billionaires’ space race between Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, Putnam said residents on Florida’s Space Coast should expect hear the regular rumble of up to 60 launches a year.

More than that, Putnam says Florida will need skilled workers to handle the supply chain for businesses like Blue Origin, which plans to open a 750,000-square-foot rocket production facility south of Cape Canaveral by the end of the year. The company plans to start test launches from space leased at the cape (ouch!) by the end of the decade.

That’s where Florida’s military-friendly approach comes in, according to Putnam.

“It didn’t have to be in Florida,” Putnam said. “It could have been on the eastern shore of Maryland. It could have been Alaska. It could have been Texas. It could have been a lot of places. But Florida fought for it and won that increased investment. Military and defense spending in Florida is force multiplier for the private sector investments we’re seeing now.”

By Jim Turner.

Putnam hauls in cash but eats on the cheap ‘cuz he’s packing heat

20155766_10159004818580371_549381760493572209_nHow did Adam Putnam spend his July?

Apparently, doing the things you would expect from a candidate trying to position himself as a conservative GOP candidate running for governor, including a discount meal in the Panhandle because he’s got a license to carry a concealed weapon.

The result?

Putnam’s campaign reported Thursday that he’s raised $16.98 million through the end of last month, including nearly $1.3 million collected in July. The state agriculture commissioner has $12.3 million cash on hand through July, his campaign said.

Putnam’s fund-raising far outpaces his potential primary rivals, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, state Sen. Jack Latvala and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who — along with their supporters — are stepping up their efforts.

Amanda Bevis, a spokeswoman for Putnam’s campaign, said the new report shows Putnam’s “finance operation continues to gain strength.”

“But, more importantly, our grassroots momentum is gaining speed,” Bevis said. “Floridians are passionate about Adam Putnam’s willingness to fight for our freedoms and his ability to bring common sense, business smarts to our state’s capital.”

Putnam’s July campaign itinerary included fairly typical events, including attending the state’s “largest Independence Day” parade in Brandon, two GOP barbecues, two “Up and Adam” breakfasts, three fire house visits, two stops at Florida National Guard facilities and a clay shoot.

And as a sign he is not shying away from the criticism he invoked after declaring himself a “proud NRA sellout,” Putnam highlighted the fact that he had “concealed carry Wednesday” luncheon at the “Just the Cook” restaurant in Panama City, where concealed weapons licensees get a 25 percent discount.

“You pack the heat/We cook the meat,” a sign at the rustic facility, which is located in a marina, says. In a Facebook along with a photo of the sign, Putnam wrote: “My kind of place.”

Putnam is in charge of Florida’s concealed weapons licensing program, which has blossomed under his leadership.

Other July highlights cited by his campaign include Putnam’s visit to the Kennedy Space Center with Vice President Mike Pence. He was also endorsed by the Florida Associated Builders and Contractors, who represent some 2,500 small businesses in the state.

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Putnam draws fire for ‘pandering’ to the right over guns & ‘fake news’

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam continued a pivot to the right over the weekend, channeling what appeared to be the GOP gubernatorial candidate’s inner Trump even as Putnam drew fire from fellow Republicans for what one called “pandering to the NRA.”

Putnam tweeted a link Saturday to an online petition, launched by his campaign, condemning CNN for “fake news.”

“Aren’t you tired of the liberals taking fake news to new extremes? I am. Sign the petition to stop CNN,” Putnam tweeted on Saturday.

There’s no evidence that the news network has aired anything specifically about Putnam or the Florida Republican governor’s primary that could have raised Putnam’s ire.

Instead, the slam on CNN appears to be an attempt by Putnam to endear himself with Republican base voters and supporters of President Donald Trump, who collectively have been harsh and frequent critics of the news network.

It’s also a sign that Putnam, who has the highest name recognition in the gubernatorial field and has some $11 million in unspent campaign cash, is attempting to boost his conservative creds in anticipation of potential attacks next year from other GOP candidates who are almost certain to question Putnam’s record in Congress and as a two-term Cabinet member.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, two prominent conservative Republicans, are raising money and have expressed an interest in joining the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who is leaving office because of term limits.

Moderate Republicans — including Sen. Jack Latvala, who’s mulling a run for governor — piled onto Putnam over the weekend.

The criticism came in reaction to a tweet from Putnam last week, who was responding to a column by Daniel Ruth of The Tampa Bay Times.

“The liberal media recently called me a sellout to the NRA. I’m a proud #NRASellout!” —Putnam (@adamputnam), tweeted.

Latvala, the powerful Senate budget chief who’s expected to make an announcement on Aug. 16 regarding a bid for governor, on Sunday took a Twitter shot at Putnam.

“I will never sell out to anyone, anytime,” Latvala tweeted, who posted a link to a Pensacola News Journal editorial critical of Putnam.

“This may be perfectly predictable behavior from a Republican vying to become Florida’s next governor. But it’s hardly a declaration of leadership or individualism,” the editorial stated.

Former Rep. Ray Pilon, a Sarasota Republican, joined in the Twitter chorus Monday morning.

“@adamputnam can’t tell you how shocked and disappointed I am in your pandering to the NRA and I am a lifetime member,” Pilon (@PilonForFlorida) tweeted.

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger and Jim Turner.

Motion in the ocean — Putnam, DeSantis at Lobsterfest

More than claws may be cracked when two potential Republican gubernatorial rivals show up at the Lobsterfest Dinner hosted by the Palm Beach County Republican Party next month.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, an announced candidate, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Flagler County congressman who is considering a run, are scheduled to appear at the Aug. 17 event, which will be held at the tony Polo Club in Boca Raton. The GOP club is billing the dinner as the “premiere political event” of the summer.

lobsterfest

Putnam is the frontrunner in the race to succeed Gov. Rick Scott, having amassed more than $11.6 million in unspent money through the end of last month. But supporters of DeSantis have started a political committee that could aid his bid, reporting $943,000 in cash.

Although billed by the Palm Beach Republicans as the “premiere political event” of the summer, several other potential GOP contenders for governor are not listed as attendees at this point, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate budget chief Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is supposed to announce whether he intends to join the gubernatorial fray on Aug. 16 (the day before the lobster event).

But with conservative political activist James O’Keefe, head of the Project Veritas group, as the guest speaker, the lobster dinner presents a perfectly pitched backdrop for a potential DeSantis-Putnam showdown, with the candidates maneuvering to win the backing of the most conservative voters in their party.

Also scheduled to appear at the event are two other prominent Republican leaders, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast. The $145 tickets can be obtained at www.lobsterfest.gop.

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Andrew Gillum’s campaign manager, finance director gone

In what could be a sign of a rocky road ahead for the Tallahassee mayor, it’s splitsville for Andrew Gillum and both his campaign manager and finance director.

Gillum, a Democrat running for governor in what could be a heated primary against former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, has already faced some unwelcome headlines after federal officials subpoenaed records related to the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

On Friday, Gillum’s political staff issued a press release announcing the departure of campaign manager Phillip Thompson as well as deputy campaign manager and finance director Brice Barnes.

The announcement, issued by Gillum campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan, attempts to put a positive spin on the staff turnover.

“Both have been instrumental to our campaign’s early success, including raising $1.2 million in the first three months, earning more than two dozen endorsements around the state, and putting Mayor Gillum on the path to success. We wish them both the best in their next pursuits,” Burgan said.

Levine hits the road — with an audio crew

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In a new take on a “listening” tour, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat toying with a run for governor, will hit the road for a five-day spin through the state.

After the bus tour’s all said and done, SiriusXM subscribers will be the one’s doing the listening.

Levine’s takeaways from his chats with Floridians will wind up as a five-part audio documentary, dubbed “A Day in the Sun,” to be aired on SiriusXM, according to a press release issued by Christian Ulvert, an advisor to Levine.

From the press release:

“During this 5-part audio documentary, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine will take to the road for a week long bus tour of the different regions of Florida. Along the way he’ll speak with Floridians of diverse backgrounds and interests – from alligator wranglers to farmers to NASA engineers – exploring the rich tapestry of everyday people who help make the state unique.”

The bus tour starts on July 10, and the five-part series will run on SiriusXM Insight Channel 121 beginning Aug. 1, according to the release.

Levine hosts a weekly show on the same channel.