Putnam wins agriculture commissioner race
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Rising GOP star Adam Putnam was elected as the state’s agriculture commissioner Tuesday, easily beating Democrat Scott Maddox.
Putnam, who was a congressman, will head the powerful agriculture and consumer services department, one of three Cabinet-level positions in state government. The job involves overseeing food safety, helping farmers produce and promote their crops, managing public lands, reducing wildfires and regulating consumer services. The Republican incumbent, Charles Bronson, couldn’t run for re-election because of term limits.
“It’s just a huge honor to have been selected in a state as large and diverse as Florida,” Putnam said.
About 500 people attended Putnam’s victory party in his hometown of Bartow, located in Central Florida.
Although neither Putnam, 36, nor Maddox, 42, were household names statewide, Putnam was widely known along central Florida’s I-4 corridor. He raised $4.1 million dollars, even hiring a campaign bus and blanketing rural areas with large signs.
Putnam is a fifth-generation Florida citrus and cattle farmer.
He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives when he was 22 and eventually became chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. When he was 27, he was elected to Congress.
Putnam announced that he would not seek re-election to the House and would instead run for state agriculture commissioner. His enthusiasm and popularity at Republican rallies around the state even made some question whether Putnam would someday make a run at the governor’s office.
When Maddox was 24, he was elected the youngest city commissioner in Tallahassee’s history. In 2003, he was elected Democratic Party chairman.
Maddox was briefly a candidate for governor in 2005.