TALLAHASSEE (AP) - Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam filed paperwork to run for governor on Monday and will formally announce his candidacy during an event in his hometown next week.
The decision comes nearly 20 years after Putnam was elected to the Florida House at age 22. He was elected to Congress at 26 and quickly climbed the GOP leadership ladder, becoming the fourth most powerful House Republican before leaving office to run for Agriculture Commissioner in 2010.
He will make a formal announcement in Bartow on May 10. He is a fifth generation Floridian from a Polk County family of ranchers and citrus growers.
"I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I get to call Florida home. It's our responsibility as Floridians to keep our economy at work, to increase access to high quality education, to fiercely protect our personal freedoms, to keep our state safe, and to welcome our veterans home with open arms," Putnam said in a statement emailed by a spokeswoman.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott must leave office because of term limits and Putnam has been mentioned as a possible candidate for several years. His political committee, Florida Grown, has raised more than $10.5 million in two years and has $7.7 million in unspent money. Major donors have included utility companies, Publix supermarkets, Disney World, U.S. Sugar Corp. and Associated Industries of Florida.
As Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services commissioner, Putnam, 42, has promoted Florida produce, meat and seafood and is in charge of investigating consumer complaints. The department also manages 1 million acres of forest and fights wildfires.
Among his priorities in recent years has been protecting the state's water supply, cracking down on credit card skimmers illegally placed in gas pumps and fighting citrus greening, a bacterial disease that kills citrus trees and has been blamed for a steep loss orange production.
He is the first major Republican to enter the race.
Democrats running include Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who has said she wants to run for governor, plans an announcement in Miami on Tuesday.
AP reporter Gary Fineout contributed to this report.