Why would a Republican congressman potentially on track to be speaker of the House leave Washington for one of the lowest-profile posts in Tallahassee?
Ask Adam Putnam, a political wunderkind elected in 2001 at the age of 26 who stepped off the leadership path and launched a bid this month for state agriculture commissioner.
The son of Central Florida citrus and cattle farmers says farming is in his blood, though he acknowledged the frustrations of toiling in the minority on Capitol Hill.
''Clearly, it's a consideration,'' Putnam said. ``You don't even know until you land on Monday afternoon what bills will be up for consideration that week. . . . If you're going to knock on doors and stand on street corners and stuff a bunch of envelopes for a campaign, you want to have an impact.''
Although President Barack Obama has promised a new era of bipartisanship, Putnam is among four Florida Republicans who are looking to leave Washington or get promotions in 2010.
Sen. Mel Martinez is quitting after only one term, a rare short-timer in a chamber that often serves as a lifetime perch. With only six years of seniority between them, U.S. Reps. Connie Mack and Vern Buchanan are prepared to risk losing their Southwest Florida districts for the chance to wield more power from Martinez's Senate seat.
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