With 20 days remaining until the Aug. 28 primary election, the two candidates running for the Republican nomination for governor will clash in their final debate of the campaign. Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis will square-off at 8 p.m. Wednesday night in Jacksonville.
For DeSantis, it’s been a tale of two campaigns. In mid June, his campaign was struggling. Polls showed him trailing Putnam by double-digits. Then came June 22 and a Twitter post by President Donald Trump announcing his “full endorsement” of DeSantis for governor.
Since then, the tide has turned for DeSantis. His campaign now appears to have the momentum in the race. Real Clear Politics, which averages the polls conducted in various political contests, shows DeSantis with an 11-point lead over Putnam.
The campaign appears confident. When Putnam’s political committee launched an attack ad against DeSantis on Friday the portrayed DeSantis as “a creature of the D.C. swamp who betrayed Floridians,” DeSantis spokesman responded to the ad by asking: “Adam who?”
“We’re sprinting down the final stretch of the primary with events all over the state and we’re looking forward to tonight’s debate,” said David Vasquez, DeSantis’ spokesman. “Throughout this campaign we’ve seen a lot of support from Floridians who are excited about backing an Iraq veteran with a proven conservative record, who has the support of our President, and that’s Ron DeSantis.”
For Putnam, the debate will be critical if he has any hope of winning the primary in three weeks.
“We are looking forward to discussing Florida issues at (tonight’s) debate,” said Meredith Beatrice, spokeswoman for Putnam.
It will be Putnam’s last chance on-stage with his opponent standing beside him. It’s his last chance to go after DeSantis and his record.
On Monday, Putnam gave us a preview of what will likely be one of the major issues of tonight’s debate, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Putnam accused his opponent of betraying President Donald Trump by siding with “liberal Democrats” in last month’s Stand Your Ground case that occurred in Pinellas County.
Markeis McGlockton was shot and killed on July 19 by Michael Drejka in a dispute over a parking place that a dispute that developed over a handicapped parking space outside a convenience store.
DeSantis believes the shooting was not a Stand Your Ground case, which drew criticism from Putnam.
“The state attorney and Pinellas Sheriff (Bob) Gualtieri have far more information on what took place in Clearwater. I trust our law enforcement will make the right decision and uphold the law,” Putnam said said Monday. “Congressman DeSantis, on the other hand, ought to be ashamed of siding with Al Sharpton and liberal Democrats instead of standing for Floridians’ constitutional rights.”
Putnam followed up with a Twitter post showing DeSantis siding with Democrats on the issue.
— Adam Putnam (@adamputnam) August 7, 2018
“Adam Putnam is the only candidate for Governor who has a vision, a plan and the knowledge of Florida to be able to implement a conservative, pro-business agenda,” Beatrice said. “His opponent, D.C. DeSantis, has no plan for the future of our state and just (Monday) betrayed law-abiding citizens by siding with Al Sharpton and liberal Democrats to tear down Stand Your Ground.”
Wednesday night’s debate is Putnam’s last big chance if he is to have any hope of continuing his 22 years in public service. But, with DeSantis now appearing to have the wind at his back and benefiting from the political clout of Trump’s endorsement, the odds for Putnam might be to great to overcome..