Putnam to quit House leadership
Athough he cruised to an easy re-election, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow told colleagues late Tuesday night that he wouldn't seek re-election to his post as chairman of the House Republican Conference, his party's No. 3 spot.
Putnam, whose role in the leadership appeared solid regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's election, said he was stepping down from the job to focus on policy, particularly on the Financial Services Committee, which oversees the insurance and banking industries.
"This is an opportunity to step off the ladder and focus on issues important to Florida, focus on issues in my committee ... and be in a position to make policy, which is why I wanted to go to Congress," Putnam told Buzz late tonight. "Sometimes when you're the chief spokesman, it makes it fairly difficult to lock arms and find that consensus."
Putnam, a prodigy of 34, has held the post for two years. Stepping down as conference chairman will take him out of the role as a chief Republican attack dog in the House -- not a bad move after a Democratic wave for a politician who is often mentioned as a candidate for statewide office.
He said his decision was not based on the shellacking House Republicans took in Tuesday's election, which had been widely predicted.
"I didn't want my decision in any way, shape or form to impact anyone's race, and the last thing that I wanted was any insinuation that people were losing confidence in the team or anything like that," Putnam said.
Below is a copy of the letter he sent fellow Republicans in the House late Tuesday night:
Dear Republican Colleague:
I have enjoyed every minute as Conference Chairman, but I believe it is time to step off the leadership ladder and return my focus to crafting public policy solutions for America’s generational challenges –- the very reason I ran for Congress in the first place. With the issues before us today come bipartisan opportunities and partisan differences. My current role obligates me to the latter and too often excludes me from the former. I want to fight the battles worth fighting and lock arms to strengthen our nation whenever possible. In the coming Congress, I look forward to focusing on the policy solutions critical to the state of Florida and the important work we face on the Financial Services Committee to hold Wall Street accountable and put our economy back on the right track.
I have come to this decision reluctantly. I am immensely proud of the work we have done as a Conference. Together Republicans stood by our Armed Forces, refused to yield to demands for their surrender and delivered the resources they need to succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We stopped last year’s reckless Democrat spending spree and stopped massive tax hikes on middle-class families. We ensured that our intelligence officials have the tools they need to stay one step ahead of foreign terrorists. We successfully made the case for an “all-of-the-above” energy policy to lower gas prices, develop the next-generation of energy sources and lessen our dependence on foreign oil. These are conservative achievements worth defending.
Upon becoming Chairman, I endeavored to make Conference an agile, expert and real-time communications and legislative arm, one that would serve our Members and drive our message both inside and outside the Beltway. I am confident that Conference will be well-positioned to win a vigorous debate with congressional Democrats under our next Chairman.
I want to offer my heartfelt gratitude to the hardworking and professional staff at the Conference. They have spent their days, nights and weekends over the last two years providing expert, objective policy analysis and communications support to Members and their staff. And I wish to thank our excellent leadership team who honorably charted a difficult course through rough seas.
Finally, it has been an honor and privilege to serve my colleagues as Conference Chairman and work with you toward our common goals. Melissa and I are grateful for your friendship and support. With confidence in our principles and optimism about our future, I look forward to joining you in the essential task before us all: to strengthen this country through common-sense conservative solutions and make our families and communities, not the government, the engines of America’s renewal.
May God bless you.
Member of Congress