Adam Putnam's large blue and red tour bus pulled into the Angie's Subs parking lot in Jacksonville Beach at 6 p.m. on May 17. Currently Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture, Putnam announced that he was running for governor from the steps of the Polk County Courthouse earlier this month. The first high-profile Republican to declare his candidacy for the 2018 governor's race is in the midst of a 10-day, 22-stop bus tour of the state to introduce himself as a candidate. This meet and greet, or "meat and greet," hosted by the owner of Angie's Subs, Ed Malin, was the second stop Putnam made that day, the first being his hometown of Bartow.
A jam-packed restaurant greeted Putnam in Jax Beach. Attendees included local politicians, such as Vice Mayor Scott Wiley of Neptune Beach, former Congressman Ander Crenshaw, state Rep. Cord Byrd and Atlantic Beach Mayor Mitch Reeves. As he made his way around the room, he shook some hands and exchanged a few words with potential constituents. Crenshaw introduced Putnam as he made his way to the small stage, which could or could not be evidence of the grassroots nature of his campaign.
Putnam, a fifth generation Floridian and father of four, began his political career in the state House of Representatives at the young age of 22, later going on to the U.S. Congress before being appointed the Commissioner of Agriculture.
Putnam spoke to the gathering at Angie's Subs about the platform of his campaign featuring the state of Florida as a springboard for the "American dream." He also talked about what he saw as worthy causes and how he, as the "next governor of Florida," plans to prioritize what matters to him and what he believes should matter to the people of the Sunshine State. He promised to invest in education and said that he intends to "put students first and empower parents to make the decision on where to put their kids in school." He spoke openly about the school system and used a personal example about his own son, Adam Jr., as leverage for his point about how there are "stupid rules" in place, like how students are not able to receive the answers to the test questions they miss so that they can improve.
Helping individuals find their piece of the American dream, not stigmatizing hard work, keeping taxes low, standing behind law enforcement and appreciating military veterans were all on the list of his concerns. In his dialogue, he reiterated that "Florida needs a governor who knows state's differences and what brings them together." He ended his speech by reminding everyone that the veterans and law enforcers will "have no better friend than Adam Putnam as the governor of Florida."
In the remaining days of his bus tour, Putnam will continue traveling across Florida discussing politics and meeting with locals.