Florida governor money chase: Putnam PAC tops $300,000 in April; Gillum, King near $100,000

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam talks with Republican activists in West Palm Beach in 2014.

A political committee supporting Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s Republican bid for governor collected more than $300,000 last month and has raised $4.5 million since November.

A committee supporting Democrat Andrew Gillum‘s gubernatorial bid, Forward Florida, raised $92,000 during the month. A committee backing Democrat Chris King for governor, Rise And Lead, Florida, collected $97,500. A committee supporting Democrat Gwen Graham for governor isn’t due to file until Wednesday.

Putnam formally declared his candidacy for governor last week and has a kickoff rally and barbecue scheduled for Wednesday in his hometown of Bartow. But he’s been widely expected to seek the job for years. His Florida Grown PC, formed in 2015 shortly after Putnam began his second term as agriculture commissioner, has received more than $10.5 million in contributions over three years.

Florida Grown began April with $7.7 million in cash on hand.

The committee has until Wednesday to file a report with the Florida Division of Elections covering its April activity. The Florida Grown website reports more than $300,000 in contributions and about $165,000 in expenditures for the month.

Biggest contributors to Florida Grown since 2015 include Juno Beach-based Florida Power & Light, which has given $585,785. Committees linked to Associated Industries of Florida have given $1.2 million and committees affiliated with to the Florida Chamber of Commerce have given $930,000.

Republican Adam Putnam enters governor race; Dem Gwen Graham tomorrow?

Time to re-wrap the campaign bus: Adam Putnam in 2010 when he first ran for agriculture commissioner. He’s now a 2018 candidate for governor.

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.


Gwen Graham with her father, former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham, at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

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.




George Soros, Jane Fonda, Norman Lear help Dem Andrew Gillum governor bid

Hedge fund billionaire George Soros and his son gave a combined $150,000 to a committee supporting Democrat Andrew Gillum for governor. (Soros photo by Kevin Wolf/AP)

With significant help from some of the biggest names in American liberalism, Tallahasee Mayor Andrew Gillum raised $765,000 in his first month as a Democratic candidate for governor, his campaign says.


Gillum announced  his candidacy last month. His Gillum for Governor committee raised $243,000 and his Forward Florida political committee raised $522,000, a Gillum spokesman said.


Billionaire George Soros gave $100,000 last week to Gillum’s Forward Florida committee and son Alex Soros chipped in another $50,000. TV producer and People For The American Way founder Norman Lear gave $50,000 to the committee and actress Jane Fonda contributed $7,000, according to a report filed by Forward Florida.


Gillum’s campaign says it also has grass roots support, including more than 3,500 online contributions averaging about $60 and donors from 56 of Florida’s 67 counties.


The other Democrat who has opened a campaign, Orlando-area businessman Chris King,  has raised more than $500,000 from contributors and added $1 million of his own money, according to his campaign. King’s fundraising figure includes $181,000 raised by his campaign itself and $325,000 raised by his Rise and Lead, Florida, a committee set up last month.


Gillum and King are among several Democrats who could run in 2018, when Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces term limits (and is expected to run for the seat of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson).


Neither Gillum nor King is well-known statewide, so raising early money is crucial to build recognition across America’s third-largest state.