Jack Latvala

She’s baaaack! Hugs for Hukill

HukillSen. Dorothy Hukill received a round of applause yesterday from her colleagues during roll call in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

The Port Orange Republican, who missed the entire 2017 legislative session due to cancer treatments, even seemed delighted to hear the input of Brian Pitts, the ubiquitous Capitol gadfly.

Pitts, a.k.a. Justice to Jesus, was commenting provided on a bill that would designate $50 million a year for beach renourishment.

“I missed it,” Hukill said, to the disbelief of Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala.

“At the first committee meeting of the final year of my 16 years up here, and I listen to the speaker,” Latvala, the bill’s sponsor, said, “and I think about the things that I’m going to miss in the process, and the things that I’m not going to miss, that’s definitely going to be on one of those lists.”

Hukill, a 71-year-old attorney who admittedly can be “pretty insistent,” spent the 2017 session watching the session on a pair of screens — a home computer and an iPad — at her Port Orange home while recovering from surgery for cervical cancer.

“It’s very exciting to be in the (committee) room,” Hukill said after Monday’s meeting. “It’s lovely to watch it on the wonderful Florida Channel, which I was very, very happy to have. But I’d rather be here.”

Hukill noted she often got “verbal” at the screens while watching the 2017 session and that a number of people “got tired of me calling them.”

She expects the welcome-backs and hugs to quickly give way to legislative normalcy.

“It’s exciting to be back. People are giving give me a breather for a day or two,” she noted. “It’s tough not being here.”

Hukill, the chair of the Education Committee, had been diagnosed as she was running for re-election in 2016.

Radiation treatments ended just as the 2017 regular session was coming to a close.

Hukill, who represents parts of Brevard and Volusia counties, has been in the state Legislature since 2004, the Senate since 2012.

By Jim Turner.

Latvala defends Dreamers: “We must lead with a compassionate heart”

State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is running for governor, weighed in today on President Donald Trump’s decision regarding “dreamers,” the children of undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them into the country.

Trump is reportedly going to announce tomorrow that he intends to put an end to DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy established by former President Barack Obama.

Latvala, a moderate, is in a GOP primary match-up against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who’s been leaning more and more to the right after he jumped into the governor’s race.

Latvala has long been an advocate for children of undocumented immigrants. In 2014, he sponsored legislation that approved giving in-state tuition to Dreamers. Gov. Rick Scott, who last week said he does “not favor signed punishing children for the actions of their parents,” signed the measure into law.

In a Facebook post today, Latvala said lawmakers “must lead with a compassionate heart.” The statement comes in a state where Hispanic voters play a critical role not only in primaries, but in the general election.

“We must lead with a compassionate heart, not by punishing children. Florida is a diverse state and our economic success depends on a strong diverse workforce. If DACA ends in 6 months it will have a disastrous impact not only on hundreds of thousands of bright, promising young people but also on our business climate.

Congress has dropped the ball on this issue like so many others. It’s time for Congress to pass a law protecting Dreamers. I call on other leaders of the Republican Party in Florida to join me in supporting these children so they can come out of the shadows and legally secure jobs.”

 

Putnam’s 100 days on the trail: Busy Bee, shootouts and cortaditos

IMG_2034Eight visits to a North Florida Busy Bee, 2 “shotgun shootouts,” and downing 12 cortaditos in Miami are among the highlights of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s first 100 days on the campaign trail, according to a press release issued by his campaign staff.

Putnam, a Republican, jumped into the race for governor in May.

Since then, he’s been a busy bee, according to the numbers in the at-times tongue-in-cheek release, which include:

  • 12 “Up & Adam” Breakfasts
  • 11 County Republican functions
  • 2 Shotgun Shootouts
  • 8 stops to the Busy Bee, where I-10 meets I-75
  • 12 cortaditos downed by Adam in Miami
  • 1 oil change for Adam’s white pickup truck
  • 1 A/C repair visit to the Bartow headquarters
  • 100 glasses of Florida orange juice consumed by Adam
  • 343 cans of Coke Zero consumed by staff at Bartow headquarters
  • 3,044 popsicles distributed to young Floridians at parades
  • 1,700 volunteers signed up
  • 1 school field trip, 1 fifth grade graduation, 1 school play, 1 high school awards ceremony and 4 summer reading lists accomplished in the Putnam family

Putnam’s had the field to himself until recently — state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Republican from Clearwater, rolled out his campaign for governor with a three-city flyaround that kicked off in Hialeah on Wednesday.

No word yet on how many cortaditos Latvala consumed down South.

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.

Sheriffs shed some love on lawmakers

The Florida Sheriffs Association bestowed kudos on lawmakers “for their significant contributions to and support of good public safety policies” during the 2017 session.

“These legislators have demonstrated a commitment to protecting the best interests of Florida citizens through their diligent legislative efforts and support of FSA initiatives,” the association said in a press release Thursday announcing its top-rated lawmakers.

Here’s the list of this year’s “legislative champions,” and the rationale:

Representative Jim Boyd (sponsored HB 477 – heroin/Fentanyl bill)
Representative James Grant (sponsored HB 7059 – prolific juvenile offender bill)
Representative Chris Sprowls (supported public safety throughout session)
Senator Jack Latvala (sponsored SB 7059 – prolific juvenile offender bill)
Senator Greg Steube (sponsored SB 150 – heroin/Fentanyl bill)