In a victory as much for President Donald Trump as for the congressman himself, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis -- Trump's hand-picked man -- trounced state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, winning the GOP gubernatorial primary for governor by nearly a 20-point margin by the time the race was called.
TV networks called the race just before 9 p.m. ET, with 90 percent of Florida's 5,968 precincts reporting, when the contest stood at 56.4 percent to Putnam's 36.7 percent.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia congratulated DeSantis in a written statement after the result was confirmed:
"Republican primary voters have once again chosen an outstanding candidate who will contrast well with what the opposition is offering in November,” Ingoglia said. “Ron DeSantis, and the Republican Party of Florida, are primed and ready to bring the message of smaller, accountable government, economic prosperity and problem solving to the voters of Florida. The message will be clear: results matters and Republicans have been delivering results for decades, while Democrats have been delivering nothing but unkept promises.”
The chairman concluded, “The Republican Party of Florida congratulates DeSantis on running a positive campaign that resulted in a hard-fought victory. We look forward to showcasing our Republican nominee for governor over the next couple of months, while delivering a stunning blow to the hopes of a ‘blue wave.’”
The Tampa Bay Times -- as most of the mainstream Florida press -- recommended against DeSantis.
"... DeSantis “has won Trump’s endorsement for his full-throated support of the president on Fox News," wrote the Times. "[But] DeSantis shows little understanding of state policy or of the challenges facing this state, and Florida Republicans should look beyond the president’s tweets as they choose between the familiar conservative and the newest flavor of firebrand.”
Republican voters apparently didn't agree.
"We want a real partner for our president," enthused Maryann Clark, a celebrant at DeSantis' Tuesday night victory party at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. "Everybody here is going crazy, I don't think we're going home tonight. We're on Cloud 9," she told Sunshine State News.
Putnam -- even with a strong "Florida First" campaign and showing strong support for the president himself -- never could overcome the surge Trump's endorsement gave his opponent.
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