The 2018 midterm cycle is sure to feel like a full blown election year in Florida, thanks in large part due to the entire cabinet being termed out. The first cabinet member to announce their intentions for next year was Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. Earlier this month, Putnam officially announced he was running for Governor. For many politicos in the sunshine state this had been the worst kept political secret of 2018, and since launching his campaign, Putnam has wasted no time hitting the campaign trail.
Since Putnam’s reelection in 2014, he has worked quietly to lay groundwork for his gubernatorial campaign. Currently, Putnam is the only major Republican running to serve as Governor Rick Scott’s successor, but there may be a GOP primary brewing against fellow cabinet member Pam Bondi.
Bondi, who will also term out in 2018, had a notably good April, according to her political committee, Justice for All. In 30 days, Bondi raised $72,500, which at first glance is not a lot of money, except for the fact Justice for All has been pretty dormant for well over a year. Based on committee reports, the last time Justice for All raised any money was back in January 2016.
It is important to note, Bondi has said she will not run for governor, but the sudden surge in fundraising tells a different story. In the past, the Attorney General post has served as a springboard into a race for Governor. While history is often an indicator of future patterns, the potential for Bondi to jump in and primary Putnam is not something to be dismissed.
According to a survey conducted by Associated Industries of Florida, 54 percent of Republicans approve of the job Bondi is doing as attorney general. Couple her approval ratings with a new consumer protection initiative, Military and Veterans Assistance Program, serving military and veteran communities it is hard to say she is ruling out a run.
While 2018 still feels light years away, the reality is, announcements, intentions, and campaigns will all need to be made in the next couple of months if Bondi wants to be a formidable opponent to Putnam in the primary.
Bondi may have a strong likeability factor, but Putnam has already proven he has the grit it takes and is determined to campaign harder than anyone. From mobilizing a strong grassroots effort to bringing his campaign to the voters with his 10 day, 22 stop tour of Florida.
As rumors circulate about Bondi’s next move, there is one truth everyone can agree on, Bondi better make up her mind quickly or run the risk of getting lost in the shuffle. According to my magic 8ball the outlook on Bondi opting to get in on the fun of a gubernatorial campaign is hazy, but we do know her actions tell a story of someone preparing for a run.