Putnam’s ‘best month yet’ pushes cash on hand toward $20M

Agriculture commissioner maintains fund-raising advantage in GOP race for governor
Adam Putnam
Adam Putnam
Published April 11, 2018|Updated April 11, 2018

Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam is touting his best month yet of fund-raising with $2.28 million, bringing his cash-on-hand total to $19.3 million between his Florida Grown political committee and his campaign account as of March 31.

Putnam faces U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Aug. 28 primary for the GOP nomination for governor. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, is expected to enter the race, but it appears that a planned announcement next week has been postponed.

Polls show that none of the three is well-known by Florida voters, making TV advertising — which is very expensive — critical to the outcome of the race.

Political committees can accept unlimited donations. A candidate's campaign account can accept donations of up to $3,000.

The two-term agriculture commissioner took in $150,000 in March from Associated Industries of Florida and an affiliated PAC, the Voice of Florida Business; $200,000 from Disney Worldwide Services; $50,000 from Publix Supermarkets and $25,000 each from Publix executive Hoyt Barnett and his wife Carol.

Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, another AIF committee, gave Putnam $150,000 in March. That fund is heavily supported by Florida Power & Light, U.S. Sugar and HCA, the hospital chain.

Putnam's committee received $25,000 each in March from Comcast, the Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC and Bradenton developer Pat Neal. He received $10,000 each from Tampa lawyer Rhea Law, the William Edwards Revocable Trust of St. Petersburg and the Brent Sembler Family Trust of St. Petersburg, among many others.

All told, AIF's PAC has contributed about $1.1 million to Putnam's political committee, and the Voice of Florida Business PAC has given $1.2 million. Disney Worldwide has donated $749,000 and Publix has contributed $310,000.

The largest donors to Voice of Florida Business PAC in recent months were Florida Power & Light ($300,000); U.S. Sugar ($200,000); Anheuser-Busch ($147,000); HCA hospitals ($125,000); Disney Worldwide ($100,000) and TECO Energy ($100,000).

Putnam's Florida Grown began raising money three years ago, in March 2015. Over a three-year period from March 2011 through March 2014, Gov. Rick Scott's political committee, Let's Get to Work, collected about $30 million, but Scott was a very safe bet for Republicans as an incumbent facing no serious primary opposition.