DeSantis wins Republican nomination for governor

With Trump's endorsement, congressman cruises to victory in primary

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

ORLANDO, Fla. - President Donald Trump's darling pick for governor is now the Republican nominee.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis defeated challenger Adam Putnam in Tuesday's primary election and will face Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum in November.

DeSantis was endorsed by Trump, who heaped high-praise on the conservative congressman. Trump took to Twitter in June to pledge his "full endorsement" to DeSantis, calling him strong on borders and tough on crime. He reiterated his "full and total endorsement" for DeSantis in a tweet Monday.

Trump's endorsement was the centerpiece of DeSantis' campaign, and it didn't take long for him to reference the president after winning the nomination.

"In Washington, you know, I'm out there fighting for term limits, I'm fighting for things like when Congress has this slush fund for sexual harassment settlements, I blow the whistle on that stuff, so I'm not always the most popular guy in DC, but I did have support from someone in Washington," DeSantis told supporters during his victory speech in Orlando. "If you walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, he lives in the White House with the pillars in front of it."

Putnam, who is Florida's agriculture commissioner, previously criticized DeSantis for being so beholden to Trump's support, saying during a debate earlier this month that "the Trump card is the only card you have -- and it's a big one -- but it still means you're not playing with a full deck."

Clearly, the deck was stacked against Putnam.

Trump's first tweet after the polls closed in Florida was to congratulate DeSantis.

DeSantis said Putnam "offered his support going forward" and commended Putnam for running a hard-fought campaign. 

"I don't believe that any other candidate in the country had to run against a tougher opponent in a primary than Adam Putnam," DeSantis said.

Putnam reiterated his support for DeSantis during his concession speech.

Adam Putnam thanks his supporters and offers to help Ron DeSantis after losing the Republican primary election, Aug. 28, 2018, in Lakeland, Florida.

"I also let him know that I will be happy to help him do any and everything we can do to rally behind his campaign to be successful in November," Putnam said.

DeSantis, a former U.S. Naval officer and federal prosecutor, was elected to the U.S. House in 2012 and quickly ascended up the GOP political ladder, announcing his intention to run for Senate after Marco Rubio sought the presidency in 2016. When Rubio decided to seek re-election, DeSantis withdrew from the race and instead turned his attention to the governor's mansion.

Gov. Rick Scott, who is stepping down because of term limits, is running for Senate.

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