Poor little (rich boy) Adam Putnam! As third-ranking leader of their demoralized and defeated House caucus, he became the GOP's designated scapegoat when they tried to figure out why they were swamped in the congressional elections in November. He was quickly pushed aside, in effect, becoming a backbencher with no influence or power and not many prospects for advancement. But Putnam, whose colleagues refer to him as "that Howdy Doody-looking nimrod," has always seen himself as an up-and-comer, not as a has-been, especially not a 34-year old has-been.
Since then, it's been no secret that he's planning on switching his political ambitions away from the federal level and back to state politics. So little Doody has decided to run for Agricultural Commissioner of Florida, leaving the 12th CD open. His people claim that the Agricultural Commission job is "widely seen" as the door to the governorship-- Putnam wants it in 2014 when Charlie Crist would be termed-out-- but looking over a list of recent Florida governors, we're seeing another example of Putnam making a lame stab on creating his own facts on the ground, facts unrelated to reality. Charlie Crist was the Education Commissioner and then the state Attorney General before becoming Governor and never served as Agricultural Commissioner. Jeb Bush was just a political operative from a famous family who worked for a short time as Florida's Secretary of Commerce but never served as Agricultural Commissioner. Buddy MacKay was a congressman and extremely powerful Lt. Governor before becoming Governor and was never Agricultural Commissioner. Lawton Chiles was a state senator and a U.S. Senator before becoming Governor and was never Agricultural Commissioner. Bob Martinez was the mayor of Tampa (and a Democrat) before becoming Governor (and a Republican) and never served as Agricultural Commissioner. The closest thing to an Agricultural Commissioner-- and this is what may have mixed little Doody up-- was extreme right wing Democrat John Wayne Mixson who was a farmer and the chairman of Florida's House Agriculture Committee, though never Agricultural Commissioner, before being elected Lt. Governor (and also serving simultaneously as the state's Secretary of Commerce) and then becoming Governor for 3 days when Bob Graham became a U.S. Senator. Graham himself was a state Senator before being elected Governor and never served as the state Agricultural Commissioner. In fact, despite what Putnam claims, the job of Florida Agriculture Commissioner is not known as a stepping stone to the governor's mansion; it's known as a political graveyard, just the right place for Putnam.
Last November Putnam was startled when his underfunded Democratic opponent, Doug Tudor, did as well against him as the heavily funded Democrats in the southern parts of Florida did against less high profile incumbents. In 2006 the feeble Florida Democratic Party didn't even bother to run a candidate against Putnam, who still failed to crack 70% of the vote against unfunded independent candidates. For the 2008 cycle a grassroots campaign by Tudor garnered 42.5% of the vote. He received no support form the state or national party. Debbie Wasserman Schultz turned him down flatly (and rudely) when he asked for help from the DCCC. Now compare the numbers racked up to the numbers of the other candidates who didn't prevail but who were financed by the DCCC. According to the DCCC they made independent expenditures in 3 congressional districts lost by Democrats:
Joe Garcia- $828,638 (resulting in resulting in 47%)
Raul Martinez- $819,830 (resulting in 42%)
Tim Mahoney- $431,098 (resulting in 40%)
The DCCC also helped these candidates plus Christine Jennings raise a great deal of money. Jennings, for example, spent $2,383,471, much of it raised from Democratic PACs taking their direction from Inside the Beltway power mongers, from the poodle unions like AFSCME who do whatever Rahm Emanuel tells them to do, to the clueless demography groups like Emily's List (which endorses candidates primarily based on their plumbing) to hefty donations from conservative congressional money launderers like the Blue Dog PAC, Steny Hoyer, New Democratic coalition, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, etc. Jennings, a business oriented Democrat who was not seen as friendly to the aspirations of working families wound up with an embarrassing 38% of the vote against a weak, lunatic fringe freshman.
Meanwhile Doug Tudor managed to raise $120,000 almost all of it from small individual donations and not a dime of it through any Democratic Party channels. Local unions like the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the United Auto Workers, the Teamsters, the Sheet Metal Workers, the Communications Workers, made small donations but none of the big national unions whose political giving is controlled by the Inside the Beltway Democratic Establishment gave any help at all. And yet Doug managed to do as well or better than the candidates who spent millions of dollars.
Look at Raul Martinez for example, running in the 21st congressional district. He's a conservative Democrat who would have been looking for opportunities to cross over and vote with the GOP whenever he could. With the help of the Democratic Establishment he raised $1,886,870, which helped him to garner 97,928 votes in a district with a PVI of R+6. Tudor's $120,000 brought in 137,465 in a district with a PVI of R+5. More important, Martinez did nothing whatsoever to build a grassroots Democratic Party and, by sending confused mixed messages, wound up weakening the Democratic Party in his district. Tudor worked to build the Democratic Party and educate voters about progressive values and principles. He has built a future for the party and for his own candidacy.
And with Putnam retiring, Doug is in a good spot to turn a red seat blue. He was one of the first candidates supported by DWT who declared his intention to finish the job he started by running again in 2010. Over at DownWithTyranny we've opened an ActBlue page for his campaign. I hope you'll join me in sending another real fighting progressive to Congress. Why should you? His politics are strongly progressive across the board. He wants to end the war in Iraq. He defends a woman's right to choice. He would never support inequality for any Americans and he supports the equal rights for gay men and women. Here are a couple of answers to questions we asked Doug about issues that people who read this blog seem interested in, answers that will give you some insight into what kind of a guy Doug is:
On Bush's FISA bill authorizing warrantless wiretaps against American citizens-
"On five occasions during my Navy career, I raised my hand and affirmed 'to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.' Members of Congress take a similar oath. I believe that those members who voted in favor of HR 6304 did so in violation of their oath of office. I would have voted against this bill."
On Rush Limbaugh's anti-Obama screed during his first week in office, urging Republicans to "hope" President Obama fails-
"I think the newly elected junior senator from Minnesota said it best: Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Fat Idiot. It speaks volumes that Rush continues as the mouthpiece of the Republican Party, even as the party implodes into electoral insignificance in most parts of the country. It also reveals the true values of the GOP in that this convicted drug addict, serial racist, gay-bashing closet case, and insulter of our troops, continues to have such a messianic hold on the party rank-and-file. Screw Rush Limbaugh and the dittoheads he continues to ride in on."
Putnam was one of the biggest supporters of the irresponsible TARP plan Bush used to spread over $300 billion around among his bankster buddies. This is what Doug had to say the week of the TARP vote:
Here's what I think I understand about the proposed legislation being considered by the House and the Senate. It will give the Secretary of the Treasury authority to purchase mortgage-related assets up to $700 Billion. Additionally, the debt ceiling will be raised to $11.3 trillion. The Secretary's only requirement is that he makes a report to Congress every six months.
In military terms, we should ask Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF)?
WTF, since George W. Bush and his Republican accomplices, including 98.7% Putnam, have sunk the ship of state, why would we let them take command of the lifeboats?
WTF, since we have yet to see George Bush and his Republican accomplices make a single correct and rational executive decision in eight years, why is the Democratic leadership of the House and the Senate caving in and chiming in on a bipartisan solution?
WTF, where is the single Democratic leader who is ready to raise the BS flag? Where is the single person of power who is ready to apologize?
I guess an aspiring congressman is supposed to have a more politically correct vocabulary, but this is absolute bullshit!
It is bullshit that once again the taxpayer is going to get stiffed, while multimillionaire CEO's strap on their golden parachutes.
It is bullshit that guys like Adam Putnam can stand in front of news cameras, spout a bunch of lies, and have the news anchor "thank you for joining us, Congressman."
It is bullshit that we have troops in the field, and our elected representatives are tripping over themselves to figure out how to keep bankers from losing their banks.
If I had any hair left, I would be pulling it out. Instead, I am going to wake up tomorrow and start over yet again. I am going to knock on doors, make phone calls, and talk to anyone who will listen. I am going to do my best to explain the failures of our federal government and make the case that we the people deserve better. I am going to tell folks about my experience, my education, and my values. I am going to ... take back my country.