Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s long-anticipated campaign for governor became official when he filed paperwork this afternoon in Tallahassee to open a 2018 campaign.
Republican Putnam will likely be joined on the campaign trail by Democrat Gwen Graham, who has scheduled a “major announcement” for Tuesday morning in Miami Lakes. Graham is a former congresswoman whose father, Bob Graham, was a Democratic senator and governor.
Putnam, a former U.S. House member who was twice elected agriculture commissioner, faces term limits in his current job. The governor’s mansion will be open because Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces term limits and is expected to run for the seat of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018.
Said Putnam: “I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I get to call Florida home. It’s our responsibility as Floridians to keep our economy at work, to increase access to high quality education, to fiercely protect our personal freedoms, to keep our state safe, and to welcome our veterans home with open arms. I hope everyone will join me on May 10 at 11:00 a.m. on the old county courthouse steps in Bartow, where I’ll share my vision for Florida’s future.”
While Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign begins today, his Florida Grown political committee began April with more than $8 million in the bank.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-o’-Lakes, could join Putnam in seeking the GOP nomination.
Graham is expected to enter a Democratic race that already includes Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando-area businessman Chris King. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and trial lawyer John Morgan are also potential Democratic candidates for governor.
Although Florida is a perennial swing state in presidential elections, Republicans have won the last five governor’s races. The last Democrat to win a gubernatorial election was the late Lawton Chiles in 1994.
Crank up the 2020 speculation: Former Vice President Joe Biden will be the keynote speaker for the Florida Democratic Party’s biggest annual fundraising dinner in June, the party announced this morning.
“Guys, I’m not running,” Biden declared over the weekend — a present-tense formulation that was made in New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Biden, who’ll be nearly 78 on election day of 2020, flirted with a 2016 run for president but opted against it in 2015. In hindsight, Biden might have done a better job of connecting with working-class Rust Belt voters than Hillary Clinton, who lost the previously blue states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin to Donald Trump.
Biden will speak at the Florida Democratic Party’s “Leadership Blue” gala — formerly the Jefferson-Jackson dinner — at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood on June 17.
“We are thrilled to announce the former Vice President as our keynote speaker. Joe Biden has spent his life in public service and has fought tirelessly for the Democratic belief that all Americans deserve an equal shot in our economy, not just those at the top. We are excited to welcome him back to Florida for our Leadership Blue Gala,” said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel.