Adam Putnam says Florida’s sugar industry isn’t the culprit it’s often made out to be in degrading the state’s environment, particularly Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Cleanup of the lake and restoration of the Everglades won’t happen magically, Putnam said this week during an appearance at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches. “There is no pixie dust,” he said, later adding, “We all have to I think get out of this habit [of thinking] there’s black hats and white hats.” Putnam, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor and currently state agriculture commissioner, is a champion of the industry. In the last three years, Putnam’s political committee, Florida Grown, has received $560,000 from U.S. Sugar, $90,000 from Florida Crystals, and $150,000 from South Central Florida Express, a railroad run by U.S. Sugar. Congressman Ron DeSantis, who is competing with Putnam for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, isn’t a fan of the industry — and the industry isn’t a fan of DeSantis, who has supported efforts that would pare government support for the industry. Before the Forum Club audience of 650 people, Putnam was interviewed by WPTV-Ch. 5 anchor Michael Williams, who asked Putnam to address the critique that “you’re not willing to press sugar and other agricultural interests because, as one writer put it, you’re in Big Sugar’s pocket.” Putnam’s response: “I am proud to stand up for our businesses in Florida, for our farmers, for our lineman, for our business leaders, the people who build jet engines and boats and grow the food that we need. We all have to lock arms and move forward together if we’re going to save our Everglades and keep Florida special. “Now there are those who think, some of them who even live in entire cities that were built on the Everglades and don’t realize it, I guess they don’t know why there’s 12 foot berm on each side of the road when the drive to work every day. But all of us have had an impact on our environment by being on a state that was once 60 percent wetlands. “And I support our Glades communities. I support giving them the opportunities to have good jobs and … and not have to leave and be able to find a good job. And I think they’re a viable, vibrant part of our economy, and the water that leaves sugar farms is cleaner than the water that comes on to them. And somebody’s got to let science back into this conversation. You can be for cleaning up Lake Okeechobee. You can be for saving the Everglades. You can be for a strong economy. But all of us have to get out of the habit of thinking that there’s just some simple answer of just you know take out the bad guys. And everything else is going to be fine.”
Adam Putnam released his first ad Monday in the GOP race for governor, a message designed to show his rural Polk County roots. “I’m Adam Putnam,” the state agriculture commissioner says in the ad, a 60-second version of which was available online Monday. “For me, it’s always been Florida first.” A variation of the ad is scheduled to run on broadcast, cable and satellite TV over the next week in eight markets including Orlando, Smart Media Group reported. The Putnam campaign did not release details of the ad buy, but Smart Media reported the total is about $627,000. In the ad, Putnam is seen walking through a stable, talking about growing up in Bartow and being a fifth-generation Floridian. “It was here that I learned my faith, responsibility, perseverance and hard work,” Putnam says. “Today, those values are missing. Even looked down on by liberal elites.” The ad also includes scenes from the rally where he announced his run for governor last year. “I’ve spent my life fighting back,” Putnam says. “And as your governor, I won’t back down. Together, we will put ‘Florida First’ and make Florida the launch pad for the American Dream.” Putnam is running for the GOP nomination for governor against U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast. GOP House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, is considering a bid as well. The winner of the Aug. 28 primary will face the Democratic candidate who emerges out of a field of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Winter Park businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. Republican Rick Scott, who is term-limited and cannot run again for governor, is challenging Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat.