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Politics

AIF Backs Atwater and Putnam

May 31, 2010 - 6:00pm

On Tuesday, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) endorsed Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, for state CFO and Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam to serve as commissioner of agriculture and consumer services--but did not endorse any candidates for governor or attorney general.

These candidates have a longstanding relationship with AIF and their leadership is exactly what we need as we elect a new Cabinet, said AIF President and CEO Barney Bishop whose group has represented businesses in Florida since 1920. Congressman Putnam and Sen. Atwater both understand the important role business plays in creating a vibrant economy and both have consistently championed sound fiscal policies.

The candidates, both of whom have been ranked highly through AIFs voting records, expressed their gratitude to the organization and mulled over Floridas continuing economic troubles.

I have had the opportunity to work with AIF for many years and I appreciate AIFPACs support, said Atwater. In my role as Chairman of the Finance and Tax Committee, I was able to fight against calls for new taxes and secure billions of dollars in tax relief for Floridians. I pledge to follow the same fiscally-conservative principles as CFO so Florida can rebound from the current economic crisis.

I am pleased to be supported by Associated Industries of Florida PAC and the business community, said Putnam. As a farmer and rancher I know the challenges Florida faces in emerging from these tough times. I'm committed to leading a focused, efficient Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for the benefit of all Floridians and putting my experiences in agriculture and public policy to work on Florida's Cabinet to create a magnet for job creation, research and development, and retaining our existing industries.

Putnam campaign manager Trey McCarley said the AIF endorsement was important since it showed the group had confidence in his candidates ability to continue with Floridas continuing economic problems. They represent the folks trying to put people back to work, said McCarley. They want somebody who will help bring jobs to Florida.

Atwater faces Rep. Pat Patterson, R-DeLand, for the Republican nomination. The leading Democratic candidate is former Rep. Loranne Ausley who scored some big endorsements of her own in late May when her candidacy was backed by the Florida AFL-CIO and the Florida Education Association (FEA).

Putnam faces no opposition for the Republican nomination. Former Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox, who also has won the endorsements of the AFL-CIO, is the leading candidate in the Democratic primary field which also includes former Suwannee County Commissioner Randy Hatch, former state representative Rick Minton and Thad Hamilton, who serves on the Broward Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

While they backed Republicans for two Cabinet posts, AIF did not back a candidate for governor or for attorney general--the two Cabinet races where there are contested Republican primaries. Attorney General Bill McCollum faces health-care executive Rick Scott for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi and former Agency for Health Care Administration Holly Benson are locked in a tight battle for the GOP attorney general nomination.

Michelle Mattox, political director of AIF, said that the gubernatorial and attorney general candidates have received a questionnaire and that the association may unveil endorsements in those races later on.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859

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