A day after Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam kicked off his Republican bid for governor with a large rally that underscored his front runner status, state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said he’s “leaning” toward entering the race for governor but won’t make a final decision until June or July.
“We’re still a month or two away” from a decision, Latvala said today. “I’m leaning in the direction of doing it but I just got out of a very intense job for the last 10 weeks.”
Latvala, the Senate Appropriations chairman, was a key figure in the legislature’s crafting of an $83 billion budget that was approved Monday night. He faces term limits in 2018.
If he decides to run for governor, Latvala’s Florida Leadership political committee has about $3 million in cash on hand.
As the owner and CEO of a Largo-based printing business, Latvala says he has business experience that declared Putnam and another potential candidate for governor, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the speaker of the House, don’t have.
“I still run a business. That distinguishes me from the other two guys,” Latvala said. “Business experience is very important. The governor makes that case on a regular basis and I agree with him.”
Gov. Rick Scott, a former health care executive, won the governorship in 2010 with no prior political experience.
While both Corcoran and Putnam tout their conservatism, Latvala characterizes himself as a problem-solver.
“I’ve tried to be a guy who’s focused on getting things done and I think that’s what we need in a governor…not so much about following a particular political dogma or talking points from one side or the other. It’s about seeing problems and solving them.”