Trump-backed Rep. Ron DeSantis has defeated Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam in the Republican gubernatorial primary, delivering yet another sign of Trump’s hold over the GOP base.
With 56 percent of precincts reporting, DeSantis led by 229,880 votes of almost 1.3 million cast in the GOP primary.
DeSantis ran a campaign focused almost solely on his support for the president, releasing a memorable tongue-in-cheek ad in which he read “The Art of the Deal” to his infant son and built a model of the border wall with his daughter. He asked the president for his support and won it in a phone call in late July, with Trump tweeting his “Full and Total Endorsement” and appearing alongside him at a rally in Tampa on July 31.
“Bing bing,” said Trump, describing his effect on DeSantis’s poll numbers, as he edged ahead of Putnam, who started the race as front-runner and outspent his opponent two-to-one. Putnam backed Trump’s agenda but paid the price for losing out on his endorsement, later saying the Sunshine State deserved more than “a puppet.”
The race to succeed Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for the Senate, is a tossup and will be one of the defining contests this November. The two Republican and five Democratic candidates have poured $150 million a contest whose winner will have implications for decades to come: congressional redistricting is scheduled for Florida in 2020 and the state governor wields veto power.