Apparently there is no escape. Everything must be politicized. Even going to the grocery store.

This week, Publix Super Markets’ executives found themselves on the defensive after the Tampa Bay Times reported on the company’s sizeable financial support for Adam Putnam’s gubernatorial bid.

According to the Times, many current and former executives of the Lakeland-based firm as well as members of founder George Jenkins’ family had over the past three years contributed a combined $670,000 to Putnam, a Republican who now serves as the state’s agriculture commissioner.

Those of us in Polk County are not — or should not be — surprised. A Bartow native, Putnam, like Publix, is a homegrown product. And as the Times reported, the company has backed Putnam since 1996, when the then-cherub-faced 22-year-old first ran for the Florida House.

"As the hometown candidate,” Publix spokesman Brian West explained to the Times, “Publix has had a long-standing relationship with Commissioner Putnam.”

"We support pro-business candidates, and believe Commissioner Putnam will make a great governor."

None of this, again, should be a surprise. In fact, it would be really odd, and even bigger news, if Publix failed to contribute to someone who grew up on its same turf and shared much of its political vision.

Nonetheless, led by anti-gun advocates, including some survivors from the Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School massacre, many turned to social media to show their displeasure with the company that claims to make shopping a pleasure.

At issue was Putnam’s support for the National Rifle Association, the irredeemable villain to many gun-control proponents.

Seven months before the Douglas High shooting, Putnam had declared himself on Twitter a “proud NRA sellout.” After the shooting, which killed 17 students and faculty, critics revisited that comment and slammed Putnam for it.

That still resonated this week, as the Times’ article demonstrated.

Miami filmmaker Billy Corben, for instance, tweeted for a boycott of Publix because it backed Putnam. When some customers tweeted likewise, Publix responded that it supported Putnam for a “number of factors,” and had not donated to the NRA.

Voters, of course, are entitled to their views, even if one-dimensional, and since the emotions wrought by the massacre in South Florida still run raw, guns will rouse many of them more than anything else during this election cycle. If that leads some voters to look elsewhere for groceries, that certainly is their right.

Similar to individual voters, however, Publix, as a private company, is free to evaluate and support whatever candidates it wants. Since its support will be recorded in publicly disclosed campaign finance reforms, it runs the risk of generating a reaction like this.

Yet it’s difficult to square the criticism with reality.

As its spokesman noted, Publix gravitates toward candidates who will promote economic growth, primarily by holding the line on taxes and myriad regulations that affect its bottom line. Putnam fits that mold. Publix likely won’t find such tendencies among the Democrats in the governor’s contest. As for the Republicans, the company would clearly prefer Putnam over U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Jacksonville native who didn’t get into politics until 2012. The ag commissioner grew up in the shadow of its headquarters, and Publix's top leaders are intimately familiar with Putnam's personality and record over the course of his two decades in state and federal government.

Guns and the NRA likely were never part of the calculus for Publix’s top brass in making that decision.

Which makes the attempt by some to slime Publix over Putnam’s upholding Second Amendment rights a real shame.

Let’s not forget that Florida’s largest private employer is also one of its leading corporate citizens, contributing millions of dollars each year to house the homeless, feed the hungry, support the developmentally disabled as well as promote literacy, the arts and youth sports. And so those who choose to boycott would ultimately hurt some apolitical cause they care about.

We truly live in a silly season when each new dawn brings some fresh political controversy to outrage and divide us. Today, it’s Publix, guns and groceries. Who knows what it will be tomorrow. But for us, the end cannot come soon enough.