- Associated Press - Thursday, November 2, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Five major candidates for Florida governor addressed a meeting of reporters and editors Thursday hosted by The Associated Press at the state Capitol. The following, in order of their appearance, are highlights of what they had to say. Each is seeking in November 2018 to succeed Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is term-limited.


Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam

On education and employment:

“We are not adequately investing in our workforce development, and it has to start earlier than just the community colleges and the state colleges. We want young people to know what they can earn in a range of professions - from nursing, to financial services, to the construction trades, to manufacturing, to logistics, to heavy equipment - before they feel pressured into $70,000 in student loan debt for a degree they don’t want and may not be able to use.”

“When I graduated from (the University of) Florida, a lot of my classmates left Florida. They went to Atlanta, they went to Charlotte, Austin, Boston. We need to reverse that talent flow, so that not only are we keeping our students and our young people here in Florida, but we become the magnet for talent from around the world.”

On protecting water resources:

“Water is our golden goose, and if we don’t take care of the golden goose, you’re not going to have tourism, you’re not going to have growth, you’re not going to have agriculture.”


Democratic Orlando-area businessman Chris King

On the Florida economy since Republicans took power in 1999:

“We have barely moved an inch in 15 years. When you simply adjust our per capita (gross domestic product) for inflation, we are literally at the same place in 2015 than we were in 2000 … Blue states and red states all around this country grew, and Florida did not.”

On higher education:

“Higher education for many has become inaccessible and unaffordable. I’m the first candidate to release a program … for free community college and trade school in the Sunshine State.”

“If you graduate with an AA degree versus a high school diploma, you make about $10,000 more … we think this is an incredible opportunity to lift up so many families.”

On guns:

“(Republicans), in their own words, have been a sellout to the NRA. I am for common sense gun safety, like a ban on assault weapons.”


Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala

On the opioid crisis:

“We have an opioid crisis that is going on right now that 14 people a day or more are dying because of overdoses … This is related to the mental health system, and a mental health system where we’re number 50 in America in spending per capita on mental health.”

On the economy:

“It’s sad to see that in the last 10 years since the recession started, we’ve actually got 36 counties in Florida - more than half the counties in the state - that have lost jobs. And where are they? They’re in our rural areas … Where’s the attention for that? Where is the emphasis on how we can help the rural areas improve their economies?”

On ethics:

“The real problem up here is … taking $250,000 checks for your PAC from groups who have an interest in front of the Legislature, and then pushing those interests. It’s being in a law firm or having a family member who is a lobbyist pushing very, very expensive, well sought after pieces of legislation.”


Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham

On education:

“Shame on the state of Florida for putting that grading of schools in place. When I’m governor, I’m going to end the grading of schools because it’s not grading; it’s degrading. It’s degrading to our kids; it’s degrading to our schools.”

On raising the minimum wage:

“No one should have to go to work and then think about, ‘Well, when I end this job, I’m going to be rushing over to my next job, and then when I end that job, I’m going to be rushing over to my next job,’ just so they can put food on the table, just so they can pay their insurance bills.”

On sexual harassment:

“The ‘me too’ movement I think is very powerful … I hope it’s a real watershed moment for our country, about how we interact with each other in a professional manner. And I’m not saying lose the humanity in it; I’m not saying we all have to walk around stilted and worried, but be respectful of one another.”


Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

On renewable energy:

“We just broke ground on the first 120-acre solar farm that is going to multiply the solar energy that we produce here … I believe there’s a blueprint there for the rest of the state of Florida. Not only is it good for our environment, it’s also good for people’s jobs.”

On Florida Democrats’ poor record in statewide elections:

“There’s a pathway to victory, and part of that pathway to victory requires that we have a Democratic nominee who has the ability to motivate, inspire and turn out about 100,000 more Democratic voters that we’re going to need in order to win. If we fail to turn out those voters, we can just hand this race over to Republicans. If we think we’re going to run for governor in this state by ignoring the issues and the values and the ideas that our base is clamoring for … we’re going forfeit an opportunity.”

On crime:

“The best crime fighting method I’ve seen is a man or a woman who has access to a job and access to a future.”

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