U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., rolled to an easy victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary, racking up almost a 20-point victory over state Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam. DeSantis thanked the crowd of supporters gathered at the ballroom of the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando, admitting he would never have made it to the stage that night without his wife Casey by his side.
After declaring victory, DeSantis told the media that he felt confident about his chances in November.
“We had worked very hard,” he said. “I felt good coming in to the night, and it was great to see that our strategy paid off. We won really all across the state, and I think that’s what you need to do. We were running up margins everywhere from Miami to the Panhandle, and I think it was a great victory. I am looking forward to taking the fight to November.”
That strategy of appearing early and often on Fox News out of Washington D.C, drew a lot of criticism from Putnam but DeSantis says it was essential to couple President Donald Trump’s support with appearances where people all around the state would listen.
“In a big state with divergent media markets, I can make news in Daytona Beach where my district is and Orlando TV stations will put it on, and that’s great, but people in Pensacola don’t see that,” he said. “People in Miami don’t see that…Fox News, given that a lot of Republican primary voters watch it, that’s one fell swoop. You can reach the whole state giving one interview.”
DeSantis said he heard from Trump who congratulated him on his victory, saying he thinks the president will visit the Sunshine State to campaign for him before November.
In his speech, DeSantis tackled state issues, emphasizing water quality. He called water the “backbone of Florida’s economy” and promised he will make sure the water is cleaned up from the Treasure Coast to Southwest Florida.
“I’m the only candidate who is actually standing up and actually stood up to some of these interests, and I had a lot of negative against me. I think voters will know if this guy says something, he is going to do it, and I think we have a good story to tell,” he said.
DeSantis said he will look for a lieutenant governor that can be actively involved in issues, saying he wants someone who will be “value added”. DeSantis will face off against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in November who won the Democratic primary in an upset on Tuesday night.
DeSantis called Gillum “way too liberal” for Florida, decrying his stances on health-care and taxes and said he is looking forward to taking it to him in November.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.