Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the gubernatorial front-runner for 2018, addressed reporters and editors at the annual AP planning session on Thursday, immediately after Senate President Joe Negron fielded a barrage of questions about sexual harassment in the Legislature.
“It’s hard to compete with sex, but I’ll do my best to keep it interesting, quipped Putnam, a much funnier fellow than most people realize.

He went on to talk about about the woes facing Florida's citrus and vegetable industries, outdoor veterans programs, the school lunch program, land conservation and assorted other topics.

Looking forward, Putnam vowed that a top priority in a Gov. Putnam administration would be promoting vocational and technical education.

"Everybody's for universities, everybody's for higher education, it's like being against crime," Putnam said. "It's not been as glamorous to invest in career and technical education. … A service tech in a Ford dealership is making $60,000 to $70,000 after a few years, and they can't find enough of them."

Putnam has raised vast sums from industries seeking to influence state government, notably utilities, sugar and other agriculture industries.

His campaign is focused on grassroots support, he insisted, but statewide campaigns can't "run on car washes and bake sales. … Anyone who contributes to my campaign is investing in my vision, my philosophy, my plan to take Florida to a stronger, better place."

Asked whether Florida still needs an elected agriculture commissioner considering that the agriculture industry has declined under his tenure, Putnam didn't miss a beat:

"After your tenure as political editor of the Times, it's hard to say that the newspaper industry is in better shape than when you began," he joked, going on to say that the ag industry remains so important to Florida that it requires a Cabinet-level official focused on it.

“Agriculture is not some quaint, charming relic of the past. It’s an important pillar of our economy today and will be in the future,” he said, noting that he tackled issues like the New World Screw Worm and threatened Key Deer.
Couldn’t a governor do that?
“I would argue that it would be one of a thousand challenges on their plate, that the loss of emphasis, that the delays could cost us an entire industry or in the case of the Key Deer, an entire species.”