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Politics

Putnam Sets Pace as Candidates Seek Campaign Cash

July 11, 2017 - 6:45pm

While Adam Putnam raised another $2 million in June for his gubernatorial campaign, the three leading Democratic contenders hoping to succeed Gov. Rick Scott could not even match half of that total.

Putnam, the Republican agriculture commissioner, raised more than $1.3 million for his “Florida Grown” political committee last month, while he collected another $795,000 for his regular campaign account, new financial reports show.

His Democratic opponents raised a combined $690,000 last month, according to the state Division of Elections.

Putnam, a two-term Cabinet member and former congressional leader, had raised a total of $15.7 million for his campaign account and committee through June 30, with $11.6 million in cash on hand.

His largest contributions in June were $250,000 from political committees linked to Associated Industries of Florida, a major business lobbying group, and $100,000 from a Texas investment firm headed by William Farish, ambassador to the United Kingdom under President George W. Bush. Heritage Insurance Holdings of Clearwater also gave $100,000 last month.

While the Democrats struggled to keep pace with Putnam, the June reports suggested an ongoing FBI investigation of the city of Tallahassee might be causing a slowdown in Mayor Andrew Gillum's efforts to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign.

Gillum, who has said he has been told he is not a target of the federal investigation, raised only $25,000 for his political committee, “Forward Florida,” from three donors. The largest was $15,000 from GMHETC, a Miami company.

With $98,000 in contributions to his regular campaign account, Gillum raised $123,000 last month. He had raised a total of $1.3 million for the campaign account and committee through June 30, with $732,000 in unspent cash.

Last week, Gillum's campaign announced the departure of his campaign manager and finance director.

But despite those challenges, Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan said the campaign is building support with “small-dollar contributions” and by organizing supporters.

“The mayor entered this race because he fundamentally believes regular people must take this state back from the special interests and the powerful who have made this state their personal playground,” Burgan said.

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee had the strongest fund-raising month among the Democrat candidates, collecting $363,000 including $137,000 for her “Our Florida” political committee. She also raised about $226,000 for her regular campaign account.

Her largest contributions included $50,000 from Stephen Graham, a New York investor, and $25,000 from Lawrence Dubow of Jacksonville. Emily's List, which has endorsed Graham, gave $5,000.

Graham has raised a total of $2.6 million for her campaign account and committee, with about $2.1 million in unspent cash.

Chris King, a Winter Park businessman, raised $202,000 last month to support his Democratic gubernatorial bid, including $146,000 for his “Rise and Lead” political committee. He raised $56,000 for his campaign account.

King's June contributors included $50,000 from ABS Capital Partners in Miami and $25,000 from Morg Personal Holdings of Altamonte Springs.

King had raised a total of $2.2 million for his campaign account and committee through June 30, with $1.7 million in unspent cash.

“For a first-time candidate, we're pleased we're able to keep pace with politicians who have 20 years of relationships with political donors,” said Zach Learner, King's campaign manager.

But the June campaign reports also showed the 2018 governor's race is far from settled, with other potential candidates for both parties raising money for possible bids.

A political committee linked to House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, brought in more than $2 million in June, although the speaker has yet to declare his candidacy.

The largest contributions to Corcoran's newly formed “Watchdog PAC” were $250,000 each from political committees headed by House Rules & Policy Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, and House Judiciary Chairman Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor.

Corcoran's committee also received a $100,000 contribution from a committee led by House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami. Miami auto dealer Norman Braman and the Fontainebleau resort in Miami Beach also gave Corcoran $100,000 each, according to the report.

On the Democratic side, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine reported raising nearly $2.1 million last month for his political committee.

Levine, who has said he will make a decision on the race by the fall, has raised more than $4 million for his “All About Florida” committee since March, while spending only $62,000, the report showed.

His major June contributors included $250,000 from Robert Kotick, a California gaming company executive and $200,000 from Access Industries, a New York conglomerate run by Len Blavatnik.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, another potential GOP contender, raised more than $410,000 in June for his political committee. His “Florida Leadership Committee” had nearly $3.55 million on hand as of June 30.

A committee created by political supporters of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, another potential Republican candidate, raised $408,000 in June for a total of $943,000. The “Fund for Florida's Future” committee had only spent $16,000, with DeSantis saying he will make a decision by fall on the governor's race.


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Comments

Putnam is a joke. Being in charge of the Department of Agriculture does not qualify you to be a Chief Executive. Let the record show the size of his budget each year, for his money management skills. Then look at the Florida Agriculture output and you will see that the more he put in the less he got. Spending is not a measure of success but a measure of failure.

Some folks count pennies. Some count values. Long term planning depends on both.

Money no longer substitutes for responsible ideas, sound policy, good faith, and concern for the well being of all Floridians. We have had enough.

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