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Some Florida gubernatorial candidates return to the campaign trail; some can’t

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Agricultural Commissioner and GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam was scheduled to appear this coming Monday night at a meet and greet event at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, but now he won’t.

The Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee announced Friday that the event has been canceled until further notice. Although no reason was given, it’s highly likely that as a Cabinet member, Putnam needs to focus on his day job while the state deals with the aftershocks of Hurricane Irma ripping through the state last weekend.

“As our Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam is involved in hurricane response efforts, ranging from search and rescue to food and water distribution,” read a press release issued out by Putnam on Friday.

The Ag Commissioner says the storm stripped 80 percent of fruit from trees in Southwest Florida, another blow to an industry already decimated by citrus greening.

“A 70 percent crop loss on a crop that is 70 percent smaller than it was 20 years ago presents a unique and existential threat to the industry and the processing capacity of the state,” Putnam said Thursday.

Two of the leading Democrats running for the top job in the state, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, will be in Tampa Saturday.

Actually, Gillum was in the Bay area on Friday, helping serve meals to those affected by the storm at the South Pinellas Food Bank at the Enoch Davis Center in St. Petersburg. On Saturday, he’ll appear at a meet and greet at 7eventh Sun Brewery in Seminole Heights between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. (6809 N. Nebraska Avenue in Tampa).

He’ll also make an appearance at the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Kennedy-King dinner reception at the Hilton Tampa Downtown later in the afternoon. That’s where Graham is scheduled to give the keynote speech at the annual fundraiser for Hillsborough Democrats later in the evening.

In the lead-up to Irma’s arrival, Graham and her husband Steve helped set up and supervised a shelter for three days in Tallahassee. She also volunteered a full shift with Feeding Northeast Florida and at Jacksonville City Rescue.

 

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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