With more than $17 million in cash on hand at the end of February, GOP governor candidate Adam Putnam has used the first weeks of March to open an even larger lead over his primary challenger, Ron DeSantis, public disclosures show. With just a week left before the March reporting period ends, Putnam’s Florida Grown political committee has so far pulled in $579,000, compared to $226,900 for DeSantis. The totals put DeSantis up around the $6 million mark in cash on hand before expenditures, while Putnam is now approaching a 3-to-1 cash on hand advantage.
Both candidates are expected to post more fundraising totals before the month ends. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a DeSantis supporter, has yet to contribute to DeSantis’s campaign, but has the capability of putting a dent in Putnam’s fundraising lead. But sources close to the DeSantis camp are mum on what to expect from Adelson, or when.
Putnam supporters, meanwhile, say that Putnam isn’t finished with March fundraising. Sources close to the campaign say Putnam will likely post another half million dollars before the reporting period ends, giving him a total haul for March of over $1 million.
While Putnam still holds a slim lead over DeSantis in The Capitolist’s HorseRace Index (20.4% to 19.9%), DeSantis has hit national cable TV news shows hard to try to close that gap. The last two polls from Gravis Marketing showed the race in a statistical dead heat, with more than 60% of Republican primary voters still undecided. But unless DeSantis can close the fundraising gap with Putnam, he’ll remain at a signficant disadvantage as the race moves into summer campaign mode.
Meanwhile, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran still looms as a significant potential entrant into the race. Campaign watchers say Corcoran is expected to make a decision very soon, but sources familiar with Corcoran’s plans say not to expect any decision before the Easter weekend.
Should Corcoran enter the race, he is expected to make a strong play for many of the same voting blocks as DeSantis, especially on immigration issues. Corcoran notably led the Florida House’s charge on passing an anti-sanctuary city bill in the opening days of the 2018 Legislative Session. Meanwhile, DeSantis has openly embraced President Donald Trump’s views on immigration enforcement, even going so far to push out a text message to GOP primary voters touting a Trump “endorsement.”
The primary is set for August 28, 2018.