State FOP endorses Jack Latvala for governor

A big boost for Jack Latvala’s campaign. The Florida State Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Jack Latvala’s campaign for governor earlier this week after his support for more substantial retirement benefits for those on the force.

Tia Mitchell, Jacksonville.com

The Florida State Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Jack Latvala’s campaign for governor today during a statewide meeting in Jacksonville.

Latvala is planning to attend a noon press conference with FOP leadership to announce the endorsement.

“They know that I believe that they need retirement benefits commiserate with the dangers they face every day on the job,” Latvala, 65, told the Times-Union.

Latvala, a Republican state senator from Clearwater, is considered an underdog to better financed GOP opponent Adam Putnam, the state’s agriculture commissioner. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is also expected to run in the GOP primary.

Latvala’s campaign relies heavily on the support of public employees and first responders, like the FOP, whose causes he has championed during 15 years in the Legislature. He announced his candidacy for governor in August at a fire station surrounded by leaders of police and fire groups.

“The (FOP has) 22,000 members and 104 chapters,” Latvala, 65, said Saturday. “So this is really the first major league endorsement in this race.”

Putnam’s biggest endorsements to date has been the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida and the Palm Beach County firefighters, each with about 2,500 members. But he has been a candidate much longer and has raised more money than Latvala.

Putnam’s Florida Grown political committee had over $11 million in cash on hand as of the end of August, the News Service of Florida reported, compared to Latvala’s Florida Leadership Committee’s roughly $4 million.

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