Republicans Bondi, Atwater and Putnam sweep Florida Cabinet races for second time



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GAINESVILLE, Florida — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam all easily defeated their Democratic opponents Tuesday, positioning them for possible runs for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018.

All three of them massively outspent their Democratic opponents and have much higher public profiles.

With almost 95 percent of precincts reported, Bondi led George Sheldon 55 percent to 42 percent, with Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer getting about 3 percent. Bondi outspent Sheldon, a former legislator and Department of Children and Families head, by almost a 3-to-1 margin.

A former prosecutor, Bondi told supporters that she will fight to check federal incursions on individual and the state's rights.

"Over the next four years, I will remain committed to securing the safety and well-being of every Floridian," Bondi said in a statement.

Putnam led Thaddeus Hamilton 59 percent to 41 percent. Putnam outraised Hamilton, a retired U.S. Department of Agriculture employee, by a 100-to-1 margin.

The agriculture secretary praised "conservative leadership" in Florida, saying he and other members of the state's cabinet have set to solving big problems like unemployment and debt.

"Florida can be the model for fighting the big problems that need solving for our children, grandchildren and all the generations who deserve a better version of the Florida we already love," Putnam said in a statement.

Atwater led William Rankin 59 percent to 41 percent. Atwater outraised Rankin, a magazine publisher and Army veteran, by more than 100-to-1.

"I am grateful and humbled by the confidence that Floridians have placed in me for the second time in four years. There is still more that needs to be done, and together we will continue to grow Florida's economy," Atwater said in the statement.

Because of term limits, Bondi, Atwater and Putnam will have to leave office after their second terms end in January 2019 leading to speculation that each might consider a run for governor four years from now. If Republican Gov. Rick Scott is re-elected, state law would bar him from seeking a third consecutive term. If Democrat Charlie Crist defeats Scott, they could seek to challenge him.

Beyond running their respective departments, the attorney general CFO and agriculture commissioner vote on pardons and serve on various boards and commissions with the governor.

The cabinet members are paid $128,972 annually.

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