The boy lawmaker from the family farm grows up — into a sellout

Photo credit reddit user runswithtoast
Diane Roberts

It’s shocking how Adam Putnam doesn’t get the respect he so richly deserves. The man has something like $37 million in his campaign account. As Commissioner of Agriculture, he’s got name recognition less accomplished politicos can only dream of, what with “Adam H. Putnam” emblazoned on every gas pump from Chumuckla to Miami Beach. He made Blue Key at the University of Florida and was elected to Congress at the age of ten. Plus, he’s tight with all the best people: Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Power and Light, Publix, Disney, the NRA, Big Phosphate, Big Ag, Big Sugar.

He’s in the 4-H Hall of Fame, too, damn it! Becoming governor of Florida should be as easy as shooting a bear cub in hibernation season.

Adam Putnam has dreamed of being governor ever since he was messing around with cows down on the old family farm there in Polk County. But certain people seem determined to ruin everything. First there’s this congressman, this Ron DeSantis from Jacksonville, running against him. DeSantis may be a square-jawed, Jesus-loving, Harvard-trained Navy SEAL lawyer and loud-mouth Freedom Caucus-Tea Party dude, but nobody had ever heard of him till Donald Trump endorsed him.

Honestly, when you think how sweet Adam Putnam has been to President Trump, posting cute pictures of himself at Mar-a-Lago with Don Jr.  Mark Foley, that former US representative who was forced to resign for sending dirty messages to teenaged boys, photo-bombed Adam and Don Jr., but that wasn’t Adam’s fault. And what about Adam’s campaign slogan “Florida First”? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Plus, Adam stands with the president when it comes to lying weasel journos, even starting an anti-CNN petition on his Twitter feed, saying “Aren’t you tired of the liberals taking fake news to new extremes? I am!”

Yet Trump gushed over DeSantis, calling him “strong on Borders and tough on Crime.” That’s gratitude for you. Bet DeSantis doesn’t know jack about citrus canker.

Then there’s that silly gun background checks thing. Everybody acts like OMG! gazillions of shady characters got concealed carry permits! Calm down, y’all: it was only 365 people. The lady who was supposed to review the FBI criminal database didn’t have the right password. Yeah, she was brand new at her job, hired from the Department of Agriculture mail room with almost no training, and yeah, ultimately it’s the Commissioner’s responsibility and all that, but come on: she was one of those “negligent and deceptive” (not to mention grossly overpaid) state workers. She deserved to get fired.

Heat-packing patriots of Florida: you know Adam Putnam loves you. Former NRA president Marion “The Hammer” Hammer is his BFF. There are a scant 1.8 million concealed carry permit holders in Florida. Adam Putnam knows the state can do better. He calls himself a “proud NRA sellout.” And he is! Totally an NRA sellout!

But Adam Putnam isn’t merely an NRA sellout, he’s a sugar sellout, too. Sweet! US Sugar has given him at least $560,000, and that’s only the part they have to report. As of late May this year, Florida Crystals has kicked in a paltry $65,000, but they’ll no doubt up their total later. And so they should: Adam Putnam is their best friend, standing firm against radical environmentalist ideas such as regulating how much cow poop, sewage, and fertilizer runoff ends up in Florida’s waters. He’s fought the granola-eating, climate change-wrestling, evolution-believing, solar-digging, book-reading pinko Greens of the EPA since he was knee-high to a Nile monitor lizard–except for that time in early 2017 when he wrote an eloquent defense in the Orlando Sentinel of his friend Scott Pruitt, proudly declaring that Scott Pruitt would be the best EPA head honcho, like, ever, and “unravel the mess of the EPA” under Obama which, as you know, had gone all crazy over data and science and whatnot.

Adam Putnam knows that Big Sugar has Florida’s best interests at heart. And Big Shug knows that Adam Putnam has its best interests at heart. When enviro lawsuits forced the EPA to measure the noisome crap in Florida’s waters, he fought back like a ferret on crystal meth. He hates the idea of buying up the land Big Shug farms and turning it into a reservoir. Jeez, don’t we have enough water around here?  There’s nothing wrong with the Everglades that a few hard rains, some Miracle-Gro, and a little digging by the Army Corps of Engineers won’t fix. Florida knows best how to take care of Florida water, not some eggheads with fancy degrees in hydrology, wetlands biology and nonsense like that.

Thing is, some people are getting kind of weirded out by the toxic algae. You know, that stuff that looks like convenience store guacamole currently floating on top of Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie, the Caloosahatchee, the St. Johns, and the Santa Fe, the stuff oozing up on beaches from Sarasota to the bottom of Collier County with an aroma reminiscent of an exploding septic tank. Maybe it’s the way fish, sea turtles and manatees keep dying. Maybe it’s the way that if you swim in it, you could suffer kidney failure, respiratory distress, and nasty skin rashes.

Suck it up, snowflake. Florida’s $70 billion tourist industry might suffer a little, but surely the sacrifice is worth it if Florida’s farmers can dump what they need to dump into Florida’s waters. Isn’t it what all those lakes and rivers are there for? Adam Putnam stands with the cows. And the fertilizer. Don’t worry: you’ll get used to the smell.


Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.


  1. Love the Putnam column! He should resign from office not run for another. Have you checked out the money he got for his family’s ranch from the government?

  2. Only the HAB blue green algae cynobacteria isn’t “ON” the waterways, it’s “IN” them…. and most probably within the Florida Aquifer public trust water supply for millions….. The public have been trying to get access to toxicity monitoring through public records and FDACS / FDOH ….. and are roadblocked, how? > On the tax payers’ dime:

  3. This is a major hit job on Adam Putnam but I have to compliment Diane Roberts on her writing skills . So witty, funny and brilliant. I haven’t read anything as entertaining and informative as this in a longtime . Kudos Diane! As a Republican voting in the Primary Adam is the better choice.. Charles Koch was quoted as saying in 2016 the choice between Clinton or Trump was ” If I had to vote for cancer or heart attack,”. There you go.

  4. I agree with George above about your writing Diane, it is incredibly enjoyable and informative! you are indeed a talented writer that makes it easy to read long stories on not-so fun content AND have a smile all the way through. Thank you!

  5. What a blast to read this from Diane “Rockin'” Roberts. I was holding on to my seat the whold read and enjoying the ride. You rock lady !!

  6. Excuse the typo…Diane “Rockin'” Roberts (holding on to my seat the WHOLE read…). Why no edit button for the Comments?

  7. Forget the high falutin resume. Everyone knows your best writing was done for the Apalachee Tortoise back in the day when Tally had a Progressive Center and Gaines street had the best bars!

  8. I have voted for him in the past, BUT the background check on gun purchases debacle makes me rethink that. Many state “we do not need more gun laws”, and if I agree can we at least agree we enforce the laws we have. NO he didn’t actually bypass the laws BUT he was responsible for his employees, was he not?. The people need to hold all politicians accountable for the jobs they do/do not do. No promotion for him!

    Great article, thank you!

  9. Diane, I’m a conservative Hispanic Activist from Oregon so the environment is also important to folks regardless of political affiliation, but be mindful the economy needs to thrive as well. Although very funny and well written. I too not a huge fan of Putnam or Nelson and rather see anybody but Putnam in office. The biggest Algae Bloom in History hundreds of tons of fish being cleared from our shores on an Eve of an election. Oh whose to blame, who was the head of the dep. of Ag? Adam Putnam. Hello. With all the Money he has it doesn’t buy him a seat when he has a lousy record. Oh yes and friend of Jeb Bush too, And used the same A team as Jeb. Whoopie do. Like we all really care.


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