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Florida Matters host Carson Cooper (left) and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Florida Matters Newsmaker: Adam Putnam

At age 26, he was the youngest member of Congress when he took office in 2001, but after a decade in Washington, Adam Putnam of Polk County said he wanted to leave on his own terms and come back to Florida.

“Nobody wonders now why it was that I wanted to get out of Congress.” Putnam told Florida Matters. “At the time, I said I wanted to get out with my soul and my sanity still in tack and I’m proud that I did. But the things that were frustrating me in Congress have only gotten worse. It’s just a hot, wet mess in Washington.”
Putnam, who is running for a second term as Florida Agriculture Commissioner, said he does not miss Washington. He prefers the political arena in Florida.

“You can still accomplish things. Where people work across the aisle and get things done. We solve problems and move on. The things we fight about are worth fighting about.”

Some of the topics Commissioner Putnam tackles for our Florida Matters Newsmaker Series:

The Rumor He Wants to Be Governor:

“I’m focused on running for re-election as Ag Commissioner. I love Florida. I’m a fifth generation Floridian. I’m concerned about the things I see going on in Florida, but I’m also very optimistic about the potential that Florida has and I think it’s easier to make a difference for my friends and neighbors in Florida than it is in Washington.”

On the GOP and the Tea Party:

“I’m a conservative, but I’m not angry about it. And I feel like Florida is a center-right state… The success that the conservative movement has had in the last generation has been a sunny, optimism about growth and opportunities that come in this great country.”

Florida energy policy:

“…which include cutting the sales tax that businesses pay on the purchase of electricity, which will make us more competitive with our Southeastern states and applying the remaining half to public education capital outlay.”

Drilling in the Gulf:

“There’s no need to have off-shore drilling in Florida. There’s not the necessary demand for it given the shale-gas revolution and how cheap natural gas is. The bulk of reserves that are known that are off-shore in the near-shore area of the eastern Gulf are gas reserves, not oil reserves.”

Citrus greening:

“This is as bad of situation as it could possibly be for Florida’s signature crop.”

Immigration reform:

“The bulk of the workers who participate in ag labor aren’t interested in citizenship. Many of them have come over there for the season for that short window of time when strawberries, or tomatoes, or citrus are in production and then they want to return home with a lot of money in their pocket… The United States needs a smart, modern immigration policy.”

Putnam also gives Gov. Rick Scott grades for his first term and explains his decision while in Congress to vote for the “Cash for Clunkers” program but not the Detroit car manufacturers' bailout during the global financial crisis.

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Florida Matters tackles tough issues, highlights little-known stories from our part of the world, and provides a greater perspective of what it means to live in the Sunshine State.

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