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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Daniel Ruth column: Adam Putnam proves refreshingly sane

Times columnist Daniel Ruth weighs the political future of "the Opie of the Apalachee Parkway."

It's difficult to pinpoint the precise moment that Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had his political epiphany. It wasn't quite a Saul-falling-off-his-horse-on-the-way-to-Damascus revelation that led the then-congressman to decide he had better things to do than hang around Washington dealing with a pelt of Flat Earth Society demagogues.

But perhaps this comes close enough.

Putnam, who was first elected to the Florida Legislature at the age of 12 (or so it seemed), had ascended to the U.S. House of Representatives, where by 2006 he became the third most powerful member of his party's caucus as the Republican conference chairman.

As it turned out this was like being the third most powerful member of a psych ward. Good times, good times.

He was 32 years old. By any standard Putnam had a long and successful political pathway ahead of him. With a safe seat in Congress well into infinity, for the Bartow pol it was not far-fetched to see him as a future Speaker, or perhaps senator. Maybe he'd even gain — dare it even be thought — a better Washington housing arrangement at some point down the road.

Instead Putnam walked away from it all, an almost unheard-of career choice for someone as young and as fast-tracked as he was. Keep reading the column.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 10:19am]


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