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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Insider Poll: 'Adam Putnam is better situated than anyone in history to be elected'

Nearly 150 smart veterans of Florida politics weighed in on our May Florida Insider Poll, and here are their comments, which we allow they to make without attribution to encourage frank assessments.

The topics included the 2018 gubernatorial contenders and (83 percent predicted Adam Putnam will be GOP nominee, and 68 percent said he would be the strongest candidate, while 68 percent predicted Gwen Graham would be the Democratic nominee, and 54 percent said she would be the strongest Democrat), as well as the strongest vice presidential picks from Florida (16 percent said Hillary Clinton would be wise to pick Bill Nelson, while 31 percent said Marco Rubio would be the strongest Republican candidate to help carry Florida, rather than Rick Scott or Pam Bondi, while 53 percent said "None of the above" would be the better to help Donald Trump carry Florida):

Republican: Putnam wins the 2018 Governors race unless a Rick Scott type candidate puts in a hundred million to win.

Democrat: Nelson will NOT be chosen to be VP since his replacement for two years is appointed by a Republican Governor....Even though some Floridians are being promoted for the VP position it is mainly self-promotion by sychophants to keep their sinecures.

Dem: clinton won't pick nelson because she will need him in the senate

Rep: Philip is one of the more talented political communicators in the state, and he can (and will) put his money where his mouth is.  He is staking out progressive issues that will make him stand out in a Democratic primary, but he has a background that will appeal to a lot of Bush-like R's.   He will be formidable. 

Dem: If this is the best Democratic field we have, say hello to Governor Putnam.  Atwater or Putnam are the only two major Republican candidates, but I expect Atwater to run against Scott for US Senate.

Dem: Watch out for Corcoran.  He wants to run, and has the raw ambition and ego to do it...Rubio would be the best VP, but he would be an idiot to do it, which is why he won't. He's young, has game, no reason to sink his career with Trump....I pray to Baby Jesus every day he picks Rick Scott. Scott makes Admiral Stockdale look exciting and nimble...Putnam will be their guy, but in this political environment, he is the ultimate career politician.  Atwater has a better life story.  And we don't know yet what tycoon Scott will recruit to run.   On D side, Gwen knows how to raise money, has proven she can navigate tough political terrain, and is as good, if not better than Putnam in retail settings.  She is the complete package. 

Dem: Florida is not a purple state in the Governors cycle. It is deep red and all of the democratic candidates start off in a deep hole.It will be difficult for a south Florida liberal to win north of Palm Beach. Adam Putnam is better situated then anyone in history to be elected.

Dem: Hillary can carry Florida without Bill Nelson.  Most Democrats like him but don't believe he is a strong candidate; he's just been blessed with weak opponents. 

Dem: Levine will push debate to the left.

Dem: Republicans have a model to follow for 2018; Democrats have an opportunity to shake thinga up by going with a South Florida Democrat and mayor who offers a narrative that can excite Democrats. A progressive on policy items with a business background. 

Rep: One mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist - I think this slogan works well with both presidential candidates.  Probably the most polarizing election since Goldwater ran.

Rep: You may want to start an "outsiders" poll since insiders are pretty out of the loop this year lol :) 

Rep: Trump should look for the following in a VP: 1) someone from a swing state, 2) a political operator with Washington experience who can get legislation passed and appease the establishment types, 3) someone who can make the ticket look a little more like America.  I'm thinking Kasich fits the bill best (except for part 3).  Rubio checks these boxes, but not so much in the ability of getting legislation passed.  Susanna Martinez fits most of these, but has no Washington experience.  I don't think an outsider ticket (Ben Carson) would be a good idea.  Also, someone like Trump (Christie) also wouldn't bring anyone new onboard the Trump train.  As for Hillary, I'm thinking a minority VP (Julian Castro, for example) will be who she picks because the Democratic party has to rely on high-minority turnout to win.  In the end, however, most people vote for the top of the ticket.  The bottom of the ticket is really a "first, do no harm" selection (one McCain didn't listen to when Palin was his pick). 

Rep: Conventional wisdom says Clinton should crush Trump in Florida, but conventional wisdom also predicted the GOP wouldn't nominate a clown. Trump's strength is his ability to excite - although many of us would say it's for the wrong reasons - and Clinton's weakness is her failure to inspire anyone outside of Clinton World. It could create the perfect storm. She needs a bold VP as much as he needs a same one and even then, it's still a wild guess to predict November's outcome. 

Rep: There's a lot of discussion about "can Donald Trump unite the Republican Party?"  It's also the responsibility of the Party, leaders and elected officials, to unite around its candidate. 

Somehow over the years, as a lifelong conservative, I've become part of the establishment to some. A label I find amusing. Be that as it may, this "establishment Republican" can find no just cause to vote for Clinton. And I see it as a dereliction of duty not to vote. So, the Donald it is. 

Rep: If Hillary Clinton picks Bill Nelson, we can just cal, it the geriatric wing of the Democratic Party.

Rep: This election and the coming elections are so up in the air based on a new voting audience. The big question is whether the angry masses remain engaged.

Rep: You're welcome, Democrats.  My fellow Republicans couldn't get their sh*t together, so President Hilary Clinton is our gift to you. 

As for gubernatorial politics, can we get through this nightmare of a presidential race before we start picking horses?  Wake me up when it's over, please.  Thanks.

Rep: Marco Rubio probably won't help Trump win Florida, since he could not win his own home state in the primary.  What Rubio can do is puncture the never Trump movement. The movement started when Rubio went after Trump. 

Rep: Trump needs a VP that atones for his many sins and unethical corporate bad boy image & reputation and one that contrasts with his aggressive and super offensive personality.  He also needs someone with the temperament to submit to his erratic behavior and leadership. I think Ben Carson does this the best of anyone around the country.  Rubio does that best in Florida.  Rubio also brings favorability with the three key swing voters, Latinos, Millennial, and women groups which Trump is sorely lacking support from in the polls.

Rep: Really torn on Weatherford v Putnam, as all Republicans would be.

NPA: I don't think Trump could pick anyone that would allow him to win Florida - I don't think it will be close (Hillary by at least 5 points). Scott is still unpopular and never would have won if he had to run during a presidential year with higher Democratic turnout. Trump ran ahead of Rubio in the Florida GOP primary so I see no boost their. Pam Bondi is pretty much unknown by the average voter. I would bet money on a Putnam - Graham match up for Governor in 2018. They are clearly the best two for their respective parties.

Rep: This is the most delightfully unexpected election cycle ever. Trump will go after Hillary on issues that have previously been only fodder for email chains and obscure blogs. The Clintons will be exposed. Whether Trump can pull it out? I have been wrong about him every time so I now just join him.

Dem: Putnam has the institutional support to be the GOP nominee. Even though Graham has angered progressives with her Congressional votes, she's a great campaigner and will win the Democratic nomination.

Dem: In year that our party took a shellacking Gwen Graham was one of only two Democrats to beat an incumbent member of Congress. Even more remarkable it was in a conservative area of the state....

If there is one thing we all now know it's Donald Trump's thought process is unpredictable and irrational. I think the only thing that would surprise me is a traditional safe pick. I suspect he will come to the table with a go big or go home name....Newt Gingrich. Newt will appeal to the rust belt states and solidify most of the conservative base. ... Nikki Haley would be a smart conservative move, and we all know he loves women, nobody loves women more than the Donald, or so he says.

Rep: Trump's yuge personality makes his VP pick irrelevant.  Hillary will strategize her choice (hispanic/black) most likely.  HRC will run her campaign like Dems do, cull and cater together enough demographic groups to win. She and her team still fail to see the bigger picture. Without a change in strategy,  she will face same fate as Alex Sink.

Rep: Nelson is an interesting VP choice since his focus would be on the job and not running for president.  However, I don't think having two old people on the ticket is good marketing.  Also, with Nelson on the ticket it would be like the bland leading the bland.  Not too exciting.

Rep: No  questions about the impact of Hillary's indictment?

Dem: Gwen Graham likely to have appeal across Florida.

Rep: The suggestion that Pam Bondi should be considered for VP is laughable. No current office holder is popular enough to make a difference.  Trump has to win Florida on his own.  As for 2018----Gwen Graham will be a strong candidate. 

Dem: Hard to tell where Gwen graham will wind up, depends on how she builds a campaign

Rep: Marco could damage his future ambitions if he hitches his wagon to Trump. He is young and has plenty of time. He would be wise to run for Governor,  get some executive experience, then run again for president in 2020. He will be a future POTUS, just a matter of time. Jeb, on the other hand, should not attempt another run, because another Bush will never be elected least in this generation.

Rep: Dems will expand on Hilliary's big win in November 2016 for a nail-biter with Gwen Graham beating Jedf Atwater

Rep: I'm done betting against Trump. Hillary is such a bad candidate, Mac's vote won't save her. ...Get ready for Gwen Graham.

Dem: It's still a long way to November, but with 9 out of 10 Florida Hispanic voters representing 14% of the electorate viewing Trump unfavorably, it's hard to see how he wins our state regardless of his VP pick.

Dem: Gwen Graham would by far be the Democrats best choice for Governor in 2018.  Her family name recognition and centrist voting record make her a uniquely appealing candidate for Governor. 

Rep: The only viable Florida candidate for Vice President would be Marco Rubio, but he's not stupid enough to take it, if offered. Trump is a losing candidate, and not many want that stench associated with them. I seriously doubt Trump unifies the Republican Party. I think Trump already knows who he wants, someone with DC experience and who has respect from Conservatives. I'd bet my last dollar that it's Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama.

Rep: Say your prayers - this country is in deep trouble.

Rep: The race is Adam's to lose.

Dem: Trump's mind-boggling negatives will be the path to victory for Clinton and every competitive Democratic race in I-4 to Miami.

NPA: Although Marco Rubio's ambition is trained on the Oval Office,  an utterly  fascinating GOP gubernatorial primary would pit Rubio vs Adam Putnum. 

The month's Florida Insiders included:

Mike Hanna, Jim Cherry, Eric Zichella, Ben Pollara, Steve Geller, Ann Herberger, Kristy Campbell, Scott Arceneaux, Peter Antonacci, John Konkus, Gretchen Picotte, Mac Stipanovich, Jason Unger, Rich Heffley, Steve Schale, Kevin Cate, Eric Jotkoff, Barry Edwards, Stacy Ritter, Christina Johnson, Tim Baker, Screven Watson, Erik Kirk, Mike Hightower, Cynthia Henderson, Monica Russo, Marc Reichelderfer, Christian Ulvert, Scott Barnhart, Dan McLaughlin, Cory Tilley, Alex Patton, Jeff Johnson, Richard DeNapoli, Abel Harding, Jamie Wilson, Peter Wallace, Seth McKee, Rodney Barreto, Sarah Rumpf, Tom Scarritt, Darrick D. McGhee, Kathy Mears, Jack Seiler, Susan Glickman, Pablo Diaz, Mike Fasano, Ana Navarro, Mark Ferrulo, Eric Eikenberg, Rich Ramos Gus Corbella, Doug Kaplan, Bob Poe, John Stemberger, Husein Cumber, David Johnson, Aubrey Jewett, Mike Hamby, Cindy Graves, Susan Smith, Brad Coker, Nikki Lowrey, Geoffrey Becker, Alan Clendenin, Ryan Duffy, Jim Rimes, Mary Ann Carter, Darryl Paulson, Bill Lee, Trey Stapleton, Jason Altmire, Richard Gentry, Towson Fraser, Susan MacManus, Fred Karlinsky, Nancy McGowan, John Wehrung, David Rancourt, John Morgan, Matt Bryan, Ron Sachs, Alex Sink, Nelson Diaz, Kevin King, Fred Cunningham, Robert Coker, Bob Graham, Dan Smith, Jon Woodard, Wayne Bertsch, Ron Gunzberger, Al Cardenas, Jeff Kottkamp, Lucy Morgan, Ralph Arza, Susan Goldstein, Bob Sparks, Tom Lewis, Joe-Ann Reid, Brian Crowley, Andrew Weinstein, Dave Aronberg, Paula Dockery, Jackie Lee, Matthew Isbell, Jill Chamberlin, April Schiff, Mark Zubaly, Nels Kingston, David Bishop, Tom Tillison, Bud Shorstein, Richard Swann, Greg Turbeville, Chris Hand, Stephen Shiver, Pete Mitchell, Ron Klein, Alan Stonecipher, Chip Case, Clarence McKee, Jack Furnari, Don Hinkle, Scott Peelen, Amber Stoner, Stephanie Kunkel, Marty Fiorentino, Betty Castor, Justin Day, Stafford Jones, Frank Tsamatoules, Karen Thurman, Paul Mitchell, Joshua Karp, Greg C. Truax, Dean Cannon, Roly Marante, Chip LaMarca,Brian May, Jason Rosenberg, Van Poole

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 8:59am]


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