5/25/2018: Protests Against Publix, Congressional Candidate Sees Political Backlash

May 25, 2018

Publix SuperMarkets is known more for its subs than its political activism, but the grocery chain’s support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is generating controversy. And one candidate says Puerto Ricans shouldn’t be allowed to vote in Florida- even though they’re U.S. citizens.

The hashtag Boycott Publix campaign started trending this week on Twitter. That’s because Publix has given Adam Putnam 670-thousand-dollars over the last three years. Putnam is Florida’s agriculture commissioner and a Republican candidate for governor.

Publix - and Putnam - both hail from Polk County. Publix says the company is supporting Putnam’s candidacy because he’s from Polk and he’s a pro-business candidate.

But Putnam is also a pro-NRA candidate. He called himself a “proud NRA sellout” last summer on Twitter. He also joined the NRA in opposing gun control measures passed in Florida after the shooting in Parkland last February.

Publix was quick to issue a statement saying the company supports Putnam the candidate - not the NRA. Now, Publix says it will evaluate its process for campaign donations and regrets that the Putnam donation has caused a “customer divide."

Friday afternoon Publix spokesoman Maria Brous said in an email to The Florida Roundup, "At Publix, we respect the students and members of the community who have chosen to express their voices on these issues. We regret that our contributions have led to a divide in our community. We did not intend to put our associates and the customers they serve in the middle of a political debate.   At the same time, we remain committed to maintaining a welcoming shopping environment for our customers."

She went onto to say, "We would never knowingly disappoint our customers or the communities we serve. As a result, we decided earlier this week to suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we reevaluate our giving processes." Gary Fineout, a reporter with the Associated Press and Dan Sweeney, who writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel joined us to discuss private business and politics.

Congressional Candidate Questions Whether Puerto Ricans In Florida Should Be Able To Vote

Ron DeSantis’ bid for governor has opened up his seat in Congress. And this week, a Republican who wants to succeed him --- John Ward -- told the Mount Dora Republican Club, he doesn’t think Puerto Ricans who came to Florida after Hurricane Maria should be able to sign up to vote.

“First of all, I don’t think they should be allowed to register to vote. And you know it’s not lost on me that I think the Democrat Party is really hoping that they can change kind of the voting registers in a lot of counties and districts. And I don’t think they should be allowed to do that,” said Ward.

After a widespread backlash, Ward later clarified that he welcomes Puerto Ricans registering to vote here if they move to Florida *permanently.*

Republican State Representative Bob Cortes, of Altamonte Springs, endorsed a different Republican in the race. Rep. Cortes joined us via Skype.