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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Insiders: We'll find out soon whether Adam Putnam has a glass jaw

Florida Insider polls are unscientific surveys of Florida political operatives, money-raisers, lobbyists, political scientists, recovering journalists, activists, and the like

Tampa Bay Tomes

Florida Insider polls are unscientific surveys of Florida political operatives, money-raisers, lobbyists, political scientists, recovering journalists, activists, and the like



This month's Florida Insider Poll questions: Who would be the strongest Democratic/Republican nominee for governor? Whom do you expect will win the Democratic/Republican gubernatorial nomination? Which party do you expect will win the Senate District 40 special election? Do you expect Rick Scott to run for president some day?

We allow anonomous opinions in this rare case to encourage honest answers from people involved in the political process. Here's are the comments we received from our Florida Insiders:

Republican: With all the discourse in DC and Tallahassee business leaders will continue to find success at the polls and that includes the only businessman in the race for Governor on the Republican side, Jack Latvala and yes Rick Scott will be POTUS after Trump.

Democrat: D: I think everyone agrees that if Morgan gets in the race he wins the dem nomination. I just don't think he gets in, he has no reason to. That said, I think Gillum has unfortunately shot himself in the foot. He won't be able to raise money and in turn will drop out of the race after his name is cleared from this FBI investigation (if he isn't cleared he's out anyways). This leaves Graham and King duking it out ( I think if Levine gets in as a dem he makes little splash then fizzles out shortly afterward). Between Graham and King, I think infrastructure will be the deciding factor. I see them both investing time and resources into that, but King beats her out as of now. Seems as though Graham is playing the endorsement game, which in the end is good for press hits but not sure in this climate it resonates with primary voters. King seems to be building grassroots support in communities of color and really has an opportunity to grab the support of the progressive wing of the party which could propel him to the nomination. Admittedly, 3 months ago this would not have been an evaluation I would have written, but it seems as though the right things are falling into place for him and he/his team seem to be taking advantage of that. Lets see what happens in the next couple months...... Latvala and Corcoran and others may get in and make a splash, but similar to Levine, they eventually get drowned out by Putnam's operation and money. What a monumental breakdown and defeat would it be for Putnam to not win the nomination, Republicans would be besides themselves and I believe thats an opportunity the dems could take advantage of.....not likely to happen though. ... Also, Rick Scott for President???? Hahaha.

R: Scott will run for President if he wins the US Senate race next year - he will stay in senate until the opportunity arises - most likely 2024

R: God help us if a guy who got rich ripping off the most vulnerable population in our Country would ever even contemplate it is possible to run for President.  As a Republican, I sincerely hope that Sen. Nelson can help us to close this unfortunate chapter in our State's history.  

R: You'll soon be able to wipe Gillum's name off of these lists.  As for the GOP nom, I have never seen a GOP gubernatorial primary be as wide open as this one is so far.  It's anyone's game at this point. If anyone thinks Putnam is a guaranteed thing, then they haven't been paying much attention to political trends lately. 

R: Republicans would do best to nominate Diaz in order to keep Senate District 40.  Diaz de la Portilla would likely lose to Annette Taddeo.    Diaz already HAS beaten Rivas-Logan and would likely beat Taddeo as well.  The Democrats are already starting to attack Diaz which is a sign they have polled and know where this is going....On the Governor's race, Gillum's problems are NOT going away.  Democrats will likely nominate Gwen Graham in a misguided attempt to remind voters of the glory days of the Florida Democratic Party but it will backfire greatly as Graham is lackluster.  Democrats will not be smart enough to nominate Levine who has a pro-business record on Miami Beach and can self fund as well as bring Democratic All-Stars to campaign.  Adam Putnam has taken a low key role for the past 8 years so people have forgotten how smart and personable he comes across as a politician.  Had he not gone to Congress, he may have been Florida Speaker instead of Johnny Byrd and had he not left Congress, he could have been Speaker instead of Ryan.  Corcoran, on the other hand, had lost two races before he closely won his current House Seat.  He became Speaker by default because of lack of better candidates.  He should be just as terrible on the stump running for Governor.  Latvala seems appealing at first because he is wiser than most people in Tallahassee, but really, can you see his face on posters for a state wide campaign?  What happens when he starts treating campaign staff like he treats staff members in Tallahassee.  Seriously, we can just picture him in a verbal altercation with voters, can't we?

D: Unfortunately, I could not answer "God, I hope not" to the last question. ... Maybe Rick Scott will run for President.  When you become a multizillionaire by stealing from taxpayers, and get rewarded for it, instead of being sent to federal prison, maybe you think you are invincible. ... With regard to the Gov race, the question should be whether John Morgan runs.  I think his ego will ultimately lead him to run.  If so, I think he wins.  If he doesn't run, no Democrat beats Putnam, Corcoran, or Latvala....With regard to the R primary, I think Putnam becomes the next Bill McCollum.  The Denny Hastert stuff will sink him.  Corcoran, backed by the Koch Brothers, will have plenty of money.  Latvala does not have the physical stamina to run a lengthy statewide race....The Gov. race is up for grabs.  If Putnam is the nominee, we will lose the mansion.  Maybe that would be a good thing though, so that our party can take a look in the mirror and get back on track.

R: Corcoran should demand his paid Fabrizio goonjust shut his mouth bashing the rivals. It hurts Richard in this phase yet sure helps Fabrizio raise his own name. Good job T. Winter is Coming, Richard. Don't make it come earlier.

R: Rick Scott needs to figure out how to win a US Senate race long before he thinks about running for President. 

R: As is the case with most things, timing is everything, but if Scott gets into the Senate and Trump either doesn't run in 2020 or Scott still has the same drive he does now, he'll run in one of the next two cycles.

R: The rep gov race is building to be special. While Putnam has been in office for 20 years and run statewide twice, I'm not sure he's ever been punched in the jaw. We're going to see if it's glass....thanks to Jack and Richard.     I don't think Adam's hand is as strong as conventional wisdom indicated. 

D: Rick Scott won't ever run for president because of the ass-whuppin' Bill Nelson is going to deliver in 2018.

NPA/Other: The day of (reckoning) will soon come for the Florida Republican Party, if it continues to embrace and support the extreme and unsustainable positions of a Trump administration. 

R: The Democrats need someone to fire up their base and appeal to new voters - John Morgan would be the candidate that could accomplish that.  We are talking only one point margins of victory in the last two gubernatorial races.  The question is whether he'll run.  If it's a milk toast race between Putnam and Graham, it will likely be a Putnam victory since Dems typically stay home in the off-years.  But I still think some multi-millionaire might parachute in out of nowhere like Rick Scott and take the Republican nomination.  Since Scott didn't appear until April 2010, we've still got a ways to go.  And it seems like Putnam is playing the McCollum role this year inviting some gazillionaire to swoop in at the last minute if Putnam is looking like the nominee. .... Expect Rick Scott to run for Senate, and if he wins then a presidential race could happen later...but I don't think he has the charisma for the national stage.  Some have it (Trump, Rubio, George W., Reagan on the R side, and Bill Clinton, Obama JFK on the D side) and some just don't (McCain was never someone that people projected their hopes and dreams upon, and the same could be said for Hillary).  Will Scott win?  Unsure if he can pull his typically one percent victory.  Funny thing is that Trump backlash might be what does him in... In the Republican gubernatorial primary as of now, Putnam is the front-runner, but has a McCollum feel to him...Latvala could be a spoiler but I don't see him going the distance as a moderate in the party.  Corcoran is making an effort to travel statewide already, and is definitely a contender and I'd expect him to come at Putnam from the right.  DeSantis has a great bio but not as great of a fundraising base.  

R: The democrats have the best field of gubernatorial candidates in decades. This is both a blessing and a curse. Graham has the best chance to distinguish herself as being center left and maybe moderate on some issues. Chris King and John Morgan somewhat compete against each other as two white rich men both from Central Florida who claim to be advocates for the poor and downtrodden.  Gillum had the best chance of channeling Barack Obama's energy and charisma.  If he was able to get an endorsement from BHO that would be a game changer.  Levine is a non starter and I don't see where and how he gets oxygen outside of Miami. 

R: Scott has been working his way to the White House long before he became Governor and ever since. Being Governor was for him an inconvenience just to have any chance to living on Pennsylvania Ave. Unfortunately, the people of Florida are having to pay the consequences along the way.

NPA/Other: Rick Scott is an abysmal governor; his victories say more about the pathetic state of the Florida Democratic Party than the deficit of political skill displayed by Scott time and time again. When he finally faces a high quality opponent in Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate, it will thankfully mark the end of Scott's failed tenure in political office.

D: Maybe the no on Rick Scott for President is more wishful thinking, but I think the disaster we are currently living through is more than enough... I like Latvala for the GOP for governor--he's a real Republican not one of these anti-middle class far-right Republicans who are only out for themselves. 

D: Don't look now, but the Republican gubernatorial primary may end up being the more fiercely contested of the party nomination races. What once seemed like smooth sailing for Adam Putnam could well turn into a pitched battle that divides the Tampa Bay media market and drags the GOP even more to the right. In that event, the big winner of the Republican primary will be Democratic nominee Gwen Graham.

D: I think we're in uncharted political territory. That makes it hard to predict what's going to happen from one day to the next, let alone in the fall of 2018. We may not even have a country by then!

D: Comparing Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primaries is comparing apples to oranges. The scale of money Republicans will raise reflects over 20 years of institutional government power and control. Democrats have been almost entirely out of power for over 20 years and so do not have the benefit of institutional influence to turn on the money tap. Long story short, the Republican primary will have much more money spent than the Democratic primary, but expecting both sides to raise comparable money ignores decades of political reality.

NPA/Other: I don't think he'll be a legitimate contender, but sure, Scott could run, assuming either one Senate term and two Trump Presidential terms aligned OR Trump gets impeached and Pence proves unable to solidify an incumbent advantage. ... But isn't the bigger question right now "What the hell does it mean to be a Republican?" Because even with national and state hegemony, it's awful hard to tell what the policy core is they share, beyond liking to be on a winning team.

D: I don't expect John Morgan to run for Governor, but If he does then it's a game changer :)

D: It's popular to slam Democrats for grabbing defeat out of the jaws of victory. Fortunately for Democrats, the Republicans may very do the same. They have a winner in Putnam but the extremes of the party might just screw it up. Graham will clean anyone but Putnam's clock.

R: Rick Scott running for President is certainly in the realm of possibility.  The uncertainty is timing.  He would be 70 years old when starting a campaign for 2024 and 72 when taking office.  He's young enough and healthy enough for that, but it's fair to imagine that he wouldn't do it at 76 years old, in 2028.  I'm saying that his window of opportunity is narrow.

R: Rick Scott will probably run someday but he will not be a top tier candidate.  He lacks the charisma or the debating skills to be a viable candidate on the national level. 

D: Still very early re governor's race. Most folks are not yet engaged and all the horses are not even yet in the race. Remember this time two years ago when no one imagined someone named Donald Trump would win the following year's election.... From everything I see going on, Democrats are really motivated and organizing like never before. I think people are going to be surprised by turnout.

R: Putnam's a conservative, but people aren't too fond of career politicians these days. Hammer him enough on being literally a lifelong politician and run to the right of him - and you have Governor Corcoran.... John Morgan is the Democratic Trump. If I thought there was a chance the Democrats would nominate him, I'd be worried. Right now, not so much.

R: I'm all out of witty comments at the moment. ... If Andrew Gillum weren't currently being steeped in a pot of corruption and under multiple investigations he'd be the man to beat. But I just keep counting the days until he finally folds. Gwen Graham should walk away with the D nomination. ... IF Ron Desantis actually gets in the race (which I expect) he'll dominate the discussion coming in as a firebrand hard right conservative.

R: If Rick Scott emerges from the battle of the aliens Senate race next year...he will someday run for President. 

D: These answers could change by tomorrow depending on whether or not a candidate impales himself on his tongue.

NPA/Other: As the only women in the Democratic primary field, Gwen Graham's odds improve exponentially to the number of men that enter the race.

R: If we had a stronger state party, like we had in the 90s and early 2000s, the field would be cleared and Putnam would win easily. As it is, he'll have to work hard but is smart enough to put in the sweat equity he needs to. 

D: Both the (R) and (D) gubernatorial fields are beginning to look similar - both too crowded and lacking strength of message. ... I do commend John Morgan, whether he runs or not, for speaking at Tiger Bay Clubs. They are tough, bipartisan audiences, and other candidates/presumed candidates on both sides clearly to gun shy to speak at them.

NPA/Other: Andrew Gilliam is the only Democrat (besides John Morgan) who can deliver an inspiring message that can motivate people to vote for him. He's also the only person currently running who can pull together and activate the elements of the Obama coalition that didn't show up for Hillary. A race between him and Gwen Graham is a replay of Obama vs. Clinton. Advantage Gillum.

D: it is questionable to say Gillum is running a credible State Senate campaign, let alone one for Governor.  ... Scott will run for President one day, and I can't wait.  I'll be ordering popcorn for that moment. ... SD 40 isn't as Democratic as my Democratic friends think, and I don't see Taddeo beating Diaz.  Her best hope is DLP winning the primary.  Until they prove they can win these kind of seats, it is advantage GOP.

D: The problem for Democrats in the SD40 Special is that the electorate that will show up will be disproportionally older Cuban compared to normal midterms or presidential cycles.  This is a group that still votes GOP down ballot and has no trouble splitting their ticket. 

D: Free from traditional constraints, John Morgan would take on Adam Putnam like Trump did Jeb Bush.

R: Competency is no longer a top priority for voters.  The Mavericks and newcomers are in; the establishment is out.  Voters prefer a candidate with no experience to one with years of experiment.  That's not how they would pick a surgeon, but that is how they pick their candidates

D: underwhelming season

D: The 800 pound "wild card" gorilla looming over this whole race for Florida Governor is John Democrats and Republicans. He is truly the wild card. ... Jack Latvala, while not possessing "TV charisma", is the only Republican candidate with the most experience who philosophically can attract Independents and Democrats and has the moderate reputation of working "across the isle" and therefore can project the broadest base and the best chance of winning statewide vs Corcoran or Putnam who are strictly "core right-wing Republicans". ... Obviously Rick Scott's run for President is predicated on several wild card happenings: Scott's winning the Senate race against Bill Nelson...and Donald Trump's popularity and Donald Trump having a second term. All these are "straight flush" options at this point in time.

R: The Governor will be much too old before the country is ready for another Trumpet!

R: God help us all, Rick Scott run for President!?!? 

D: That last question left me stunned. Not because the thought of Rick Scott being President is crazy (it is, though), but because I'd rather have him than our current President. We've reach that point.

R: Watch Gwen Graham. Very smart. Congenial. 

D: Nice of you to include a joke question (Scott for prez) at the bottom.

D: Democrats need someone who can excite the base. That is Andrew Gillum. The idea that we have to play to moderate republicans or independents is as stale as Gwen Graham's stump speech. You never hear Republicans trying to win over democrats, yet we are always looking for love in all the wrong places!

R: The administration's, or day care's (take your pick), moment of reckoning is upon us as the trust fund boys-son and son in law (both with impeccable hair) mosey on up to the Hill for some real answers or real fibbing but certainly with daddy's highly annoying legal eagles. FINALLY we get to hear Jared speak!

D: It was hard to pick a Democratic nominee.  The drunk guy (Morgan) is the strongest Democratic candidate because of name recognition, money, and speaking ability.  He's no more of a Democrat than Trump is a Republican.  If he doesn't run, Graham is the strongest in a General, but her votes in Congress because of her District will hurt her in a Primary, and the Republicans will fund against her in a primary.  Gillum is a disaster, King is unknown, and I just think that Levine has too many problems....Putnam is by far the strongest Republican in a General, although Latvala would also be strong.  Both are reasonable, which could hurt them in the Primary.

R: If John Morgan runs, I think he has a good chance of being the Democrat nominee.  He's loud, well funded, and frankly, on the issues, appeals to the Democrat base.   On the Republican side, while I believe Adam Putnam has the advantage, I think Richard Corcoran may fare stronger than most people think, particularly given the overall mood.  Republicans will be incensed with the establishment if Obamacare is not repealed, and Latvala and Corcoran will hang that on Putnam.  Corcoran will have the money he needs to define Putnam in that way, and the effort to paint him as a moderate won't be all that hard if they effectively use his voting record in DC.  Book it, Fabrizio is already working on that.    Latvala's entire strategy will be to run in the moderate lane while Corcoran and Putnam try to shore up the base.  Will be interesting, as Putnam will likely need to have one foot in each lane, as I think Corcoran will naturally be seen as the most conservative.  So, for the time being, I think Putnam has the edge, but Corcoran has a real shot.

R: The scariest thing I've read this year, is the theoretical question about Rick Scott running for President.  And I'm a Republican. God help us all.

R: Comparisons of Putnam to McCollum are misguided.   The Tea Party was in full force in 2010 and Scott capitalized, as well as having a candidate named "McCalister" take 130,000 votes, which was more than 3x the vote differential between Scott/McCollum.  Putnam is not taking the race for granted, and is campaigning hard, as Scott did in 2010.  McCollum didn't push as hard on the trail, and ultimately cost him.

R: Don't take your eye off Jack. With a crowded field and a Pinellas base he becomes a serious player.

R: Not quite certain what Richard Corcoran really stands for.

R: Morgan probably will not run, which is a shame on many levels.  In a crowded field, he could get 28% and take the nomination and then almost by definition, have a 50-50 chance to be governor.   Putnam may or may not have a glass jaw - that is an unknown unknown.  He is a perfectly fine guy and is a Republican version of guys like Graham and Nelson who are plain vanilla, will never rock the boat, are good public servants and could be there decades and never have a scandal or whiff of corruption. ... However, that may or may not be the zeitgeist of our era - look at elections in both parties all across the nation.  I'm a Republican so I sort of like it that after 153 straight years of Dem rule (1845-1998), we have a chance; but I am also a realist - we ain't that different than any party in power - we make enemies, mistakes and the clock is always ticking.  That's why (in addition to the last 4 election cycles) i think the Dem nominee has a 50-50 chance at winning the election.  It depends on the match up.

D: Independent wealth equals the inside track of a race! 

D: This is John Morgan's race to lose. All he has to do is decide to run, and unlike everyone else he can afford to wait. There is no other candidate, D or R, who can energize a room the way Morgan can, and his appeal crosses party lines. Putnam is the safe choice for Republicans, but he is too much in the Jeb! mold (and doesn't even get an exclamation point). Richard Corcoran would be a stronger nominee but doesn't have the name recognition, which will worry R's.

R: Republicans will retain the the E.O.G. In 2018....One can hope the next Republican governor will make education a top priority by working with the FL legislature to eradicate the academic disaster in Florida's  K-12 by exterminating the monopoly of Common Core curriculum (deceptively referred to as the "Florida Standards,") and the illegal (for profit) data mining of student's private information...Florida schools must return to the basics of reading (w/phonics) writing, (including cursive), teaching authentic arithmetic, reading classic literature, and restoring factual American and World History to our schools. Students in the state of Florida deserve only the best.
R: Florida Republican primary voters await the self-funding millionaire. Come out, make yourself known already.

R: Rick Scott must beat Bill Nelson and Bill Nelson will be very hard to un seat. Besides that, if anyone can win the White House in 24' from Florida his name is Adam.

Ths month's Florida Insiders:

Christian Camara, Joe Gruters, Aubrey Jewett, Fred Karlinsky, Alex Sink, Brian Hughes, Cory Tilley, Matthew Corrigan, Kathy Mears, Eric Zichella, Rich Heffley, Jim Rimes, Trey Traviesa, Omar Khan, Dave Aronberg, Ashley Bauman, Zachariah Zachariah, Kristy Campbell, Gus Corbella, Stephen Shiver, John Wehrung, JC Planas, Eric Eikenberg, Mel Sembler, Bernie Campbell, Stephanie McClung, Kelly Cohen, Greg Blair, Tom Alte, Pat Neal, Fred Cunningham, David Johnson, Pablo Diaz, Kevin Cate, Brian Burgess, Christian Ulvert, Kartik Krishnaiyer, Lourdes Diaz, Jon Costello, Alex Patton, Eric Jotkoff, Sean Phillippi, Joshua Karp, Frank Tsamoutales, Pete Dunbar, Al Maloof, Richard DeNapoli, Jackie Lee, John French, John Stemberger, Mike Fasano, Seth Mckee, Patrick Slevin, Chris Hartline, Wayne Bertsch, Gregory Wilson, Bill Bunkley, Andy Ford, Evelyn Perez-Verdia, Sarag Rumpf, Alan Becker, Roly Marante, Kirk Pepper, Alex Heckler, Jim Horne, Charles Dudley, Chris Hand, Dan McLaughlin, George Riley, Fred Piccolo, Karen Unger, Susie Wiles, Susan Smith, Zach Learner, Jeff Johnson, Doug Kaplan, Stephanie Grutman, Mike Hamby, Jason Unger, Joseph Thomas, Ashley Walker, Dominic M. Calabro, Steve Uhlfelder, Darrick D. McGhee, Mark Foley, Stafford Jones, Abel Harding, Jon Woodard, Anthony Bonna, Mark Ferrulo, Thomas Grigsby, Mike Hanna, Chip LaMarca, Chris Korge, Mitchell Berger, Jim Davis, Marion Hammer, Bill Lee, Maurizio Passariello, Brad Coker, Joseph Thomas, Towson Fraser, Franco Ripple, Dean Cannon, Ron Sachs, Peter Feaman, Katie Bohnett, Ryan Banfill, Christina Barker, Barry Edwards, Apryl Marie Fogel, Ron Gunzburger, Paula Dockery, Peter Antonacci, Steve Schale, Matthew Isbell, Jeff Kottkamp, Geoffrey Baker, Ron Piece, Susan Glickman, Richard Swann, Darryl Paulson, Jon Ausman, Monica Russo, Nikki Lowrey, Christina Johnson, Tom Lewis, David Rancourt, Tom Scarritt, Javier Manjerres, Husein Cumber, Greg C. Truax, Richard Gentry, Jason Roth, Don Hinkle, Lucy Morgan, Jason Altmire, Matt Bryan, Allan Bense, Bud Shorstein, Nancy Texeira, Alan Stonecipher, Rodney Barreto, Stephanie Owens, Leslie Wimes, Nan Rich, Meredith Orourke, Erik Kirk, Steve Geller, Kirk Fordham, Paul Mitchell, Donna Arduin, Marty Fiorentino, Steven Vancore, April Schiff, Edie Ousley, Gerald Wester, Andrew Weinstein, Kathleen Shanahan, Alan Levine, Jack Furnari, Henry Kelley, Reggie Cardozo, Greg Turbeville, Jack Hebert, Gretchen Picotte, Stepanie Smith, Damien Filer, Rich Ramos, Betty Castor, Scott Arceneaux, Jim Cherry, Jason Roth, Jamie Miller, Roger Austin, Van Poole, Tom Scherberger, Nancy McGowan, Mike Williams, Victor DiMaio, Ron Bilbao, Christian Ziegler, Scott Barnhart, David Mica, Tony DiMatteo, Amber Stoner, Bob Graham, Clarence McKee, Chris Cate, Wayne Garcia, Jason Rosenberg, Julia Gill Woodward, Stephanie Kunkel, John Falconetti, Josh Geise, Tom Gaitens, Cindy Graves, Alan Clendenin, Terrie Rizzo, Ana Navarro, Gayle Andews


[Last modified: Sunday, July 23, 2017 1:12pm]


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