Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

District 12 voters have clear options

BARTOW — After 12 years in politics, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam knows how to get a crowd going. At a debate in Bartow on Tuesday, many in the audience applauded the Republican candidate for District 12 when he spoke about Social Security, which he says needs reform.

"Where is your plan, sir?" he asked his opponent without making eye contact, his voice raising.

His opponent, Democratic candidate Doug Tudor, just retired after 20 years in the military and doesn't have a background in politics. He may still get nervous while speaking, but he says the ethics and the integrity he gained in the military would help him in Washington.

By many standards, Putnam has the advantage. He's running for a fifth term. He's the third highest-ranking Republican in the House. And he has raised about $1.5-million more than Tudor.

But Tudor thinks Putnam's party and past might work against him this election. People are fed up with Republican leadership, Tudor said. He points out that Putnam has voted in line with his party about 98 percent of the time.

"Adam's bought and paid for," Tudor, of Riverview, said.

Tudor says that although he's running on the Democratic ticket, "nobody owns me." He said he'll vote independent of his party when needed.

At Lakeland's "Politics in the Park" event last week, Putnam said he's not worried about taking on someone "who openly runs as an unabashed liberal Democrat."

"I believe that my experience and my conservative values appeal to people in District 12," he said.

Tudor prefers the term "progressive Democrat," and he said he's not afraid to take some progressive stances, including advocating for a single-payer health care system, which he says is like a super-Medicare. He figures his conservative military background will appeal to moderates.

Statistics show the party-line division in District 12 is close, even leaning Democratic. There are about 160,000 Republicans and about 180,000 Democrats registered in District 12, according to July data from Florida's Division of Elections.

District 12 includes Polk County, part of Osceola County, and part of Hillsborough County, including the South Shore area, Brandon and Thonotosassa.

Putnam has a relatively easy time getting support in Polk County. He grew up in Bartow, where his family owns a large cattle and orange grove business. There's a lot of agriculture in Polk, and he's received thousands of donations from local farmers.

Putnam won the straw vote at the Politics in the Park event, with 62 percent of the 589 votes.

Tudor, who lives in Riverview, says he has better luck in Hillsborough.

Tudor decided to run for office because he said he was fed up with Putnam. He felt he didn't have a say, and he's vowing to represent everyone, not just Democrats.

He knows it's tough running against an incumbent, who also served four years in Florida's Legislature.

On Nov. 4, it may come down to the issues and the two candidates have divergent views. Putnam wants states to have the right to drill for oil within 100 miles of the coastline while Tudor wants to ban drilling within 225 miles. Putnam wants small businesses to be able to pool their employees to negotiate for health care while Tudor wants a single-payer health care system.

But it seems the two largely agree on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They want to pull some troops from Iraq and send more to Afghanistan.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at or (813) 661-2443.

District 12 voters have clear options 10/23/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 26, 2008 12:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Unemployed with a pre-existing condition, Republican David Jolly came to see Obamacare as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108