With the election to replace Florida Governor Rick Scott still almost 18 months away, the Republican Party is getting their first official candidate for the top spot.
Adam Putnam, who has been the state’s Agriculture Commissioner since 2011, will formally announce his bid at an event Wednesday in his hometown of Bartow, located just south of Lakeland.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, the 42-year-old Putnam said he thinks Florida "can be the launchpad for the American Dream."
Putnam says he wants to encourage young people to come to Florida for high-tech agribusiness and science jobs.
Putnam, a married father of four, has always eyed the Governor's mansion, and his political career - which spans his entire adult life - is something that his critics point to as a potential downside. At 21, he ran for the Florida Legislature. From 2001 to 2011, he was a congressman. He's been agriculture commissioner since 2011, overseeing everything from credit-card skimmers to wildfires to a deadly insect that's crippled Florida's citrus industry.
But Putnam is relying on his down-home style and his fifth-generation roots to boost his credibility among regular voters.
Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum – both who grew up in Miami – and Winter Park businessman Chris King have all announced to run for the Democratic nomination. Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is considering a run and said he will decide whether to run for the Republican nomination after the 2018 Legislative session ends.
The deadline to qualify for the ballot is more than a year away, in June 2018.