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Free for All: Putnam, DeSantis Take Off the Gloves

August 9, 2018 - 6:00am

In their second and final debate for the Republican nomination for governor, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis clashed Wednesday over President Donald Trump, Florida’s water crisis and campaign contributions.

Putnam, a two-term Cabinet member and former member of Congress, accused DeSantis, a three-term member of Congress, of running a campaign light on Florida issues.

Putnam mocked DeSantis --- who has appeared frequently on Fox News --- for relying heavily on his endorsement from Trump, likening the congressman’s campaign to the Seinfeld comedy show.

“The campaign is being run out of studio. They have a smattering of celebrity guest appearances. And at the end of the day, it’s all about nothing. But unlike Seinfeld, it’s not funny,” Putnam said. “Floridians deserved better than a candidate who makes it all about himself and not about the future of Florida.”

But DeSantis struck back at Putnam, noting he has spent his entire adulthood in a political office and had accused Trump of being “vile” and “obscene” for sexual comments that were reported during the 2016 presidential campaign. He also noted Putnam did not campaign for Trump.

“No one knew where he was during the campaign. Now he acts like he is this big supporter?” DeSantis said. “This is inauthentic. This is a career politician trying to tell you what you want to see, not coming from the heart. He’s already proven he will say and do anything in terms of millions of dollars in fake ads to get elected.  It’s not working. But that’s what he’s willing to do.”

Putnam shot back that DeSantis has run for three offices --- an abandoned U.S. Senate bid, a congressional election and governor --- since 2015.

“He’s run for three offices in three years. That’s a career politician with ADD,” Putnam said.

Some of the toughest exchanges were related to the water crisis that has resulted in the release of toxic algae impacting coastal communities in southwest and southeastern Florida. Many residents blame the bloom on the release of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee.

Putnam defended his response to the crisis, saying he is committed to protecting the state’s water resources, calling it the “golden goose.”

He questioned DeSantis’ knowledge of the problem.

“I think that you can put everything my opponent knows about water on your sticky note and still have room left over for your grocery list,” Putnam said.

And Putnam said Florida has taken the lead on trying to restore the vast South Florida water system, which includes Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, while support from Washington has lagged.

But DeSantis charged that Putnam’s response was shaped by his support from U.S. Sugar, which DeSantis said had pumped millions of dollars of campaign contributions into Putnam’s bid, using some of the money to finance advertising that DeSantis said distorted his congressional record.

“Adam is basically the errand boy for U.S. Sugar,” DeSantis said. “He will not do anything to offend U.S. Sugar, which is his main supporter.”

Putnam said more than 90 percent of his contributions have come from “real Floridians,” while DeSantis’ campaign has drawn support from casino owners and “pornographers on the West Coast.” The latter reference is to a $213,000 donation from Ahmad Khawaja, whose company helps collect payments for various groups, including porn websites.

DeSantis and Putnam also clashed over the congressman’s support for a “fair tax,” which would replace all federal taxes with a national sales tax.

DeSantis accused Putnam of “lying,” since his campaign is running ads accusing the Republican congressman of supporting a major tax increase on Floridians. DeSantis said the fair-tax proposal has strong support from conservatives since it would replace all other federal taxes, including the income tax. He noted the state Senate passed a memorial in support of the proposal in 2014.

Putnam defended his criticism, noting the fair-tax plan would impose a 23 percent sales tax on purchases such as prescription drugs and housing. He said the plan “may sound good in a Harvard economics classroom,” a reference to DeSantis’ law degree, but it would hurt Florida families.

DeSantis said “lefties at Harvard would hate” the fair tax since it would eliminate the federal tax code.

The two Republican candidates, in contrast to their Democratic rivals, were in agreement in opposing the expansion of Medicaid in Florida under the federal Affordable Care Act. They were also in agreement on recent state laws that have expanded the use of charter schools and other school “choice” programs.

The debate was hosted by the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute and WJXT Channel 4.

Republican voters will decide between DeSantis and Putnam in the Aug. 28 primary. The winner will face the Democratic nominee in the Nov. 6 general election. Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat, is leaving office because of term limits.


They're both clowns. A vote for either is a wasted vote.

A vote for DeSantis is a vote for Gwen Graham for Governor.

As weak as these two are, still a thousand times better than that clown car called the Democrat bench. One (Green) even espouses modeling Florida after New Jersey and Massachusetts. No thanks

I watched the whole debate:, the question of medical marijuana was not asked. Based on what I heard from this debate I would vote for Putnam because DeSantis received money from that gambling king in Nevada Sheldon Addelson, who opposed the medical marijuana amendment, he spent a lot of money to defeat that amendment.

dumb and dumber...

So, what a choice. You can either choose Butnam, who can't seem to do anything right in his own office, or anywhere else for that matter, or TreSantis, whose only platform is a Trump the Chump's endorsement (kiss of death), and a flat tax that would raise taxes on 68% of Floridians. Oh, and they both support the expansion of school vouchers and charter schools, right after 72 Charter's closed statewide after the school year after keeping about 50 million in state dollars for start up, operational and construction well spent...NOT! Vote for anyone other than these two ass clowns...

I have to add I was happy nobody asked us to remember Benghazi, to boycott French fries again, and nobody belted out "Dixie" as their closing statement.

Putnam repeatedly running false ads about his opponent. IMO if you have nothing to offer but lies about your opppnent then you have nothing to offer. Putnam has been in government- State and federal for years. As a Cabinet member he’s had the opportunity to be visible on Florida issues (particularly the Lake/River algae) but he’s been absent until election season began and still he’s offered no ideas or solutions. Just like Bill Nelson. I’ve seen a lot of Ron DeSantis on Fox and like his views on issues State and Federal. My vote goes to RON DESANTIS for Governor.

Wow, I've seen TreSantis on FoxNews and like his ideas...typical one of Spanky's

At least Lizzy took a side there...."anonymous".

A sea change in Florida politics...having the support of the sugar industry is no longer an asset. If you think sugar contributes less to the problem of water quality than humans or agriculture north of the lake, remember the only agreed remedy requires obtaining land sugar owns or controls through leases south of the lake. Both were great debaters, Putnam was feisty and is saturated with knowledge of Florida government but Desantis showed depth and seems willing to learn if and where he is lacking. Neither will get my vote, but I am thrilled because I know no matter which of the 7 major candidates makes it, we will have a far better, more honorable governor than we have now.


DeSantis is FOR ELIMINATING the (Federal Income Tax Code), and REPLACING IT with the "Fair-Tax" Plan created by former Congressman John Lindner and Neil Bortz ( read their book ) ? ! ? ! ?... THEN I AM FOR Ron DeSantis FOR GOVERNOR OF OUR GREAT STATE OF FLORIDA ! ! ! ! [THIS makes it the simple, easy, smart CHOICE for Florida and its CITIZENS..!

fair tax? where you getting your info from fat boy? Oh, probably NY. Why don't you hall ass back there and get a job tiny...

Read the book "pasture fart" (ANY book, for that matter, might serve to improve YOUR "intelligence quotient"!

But De Santis is wrong the Governor of a State has no power to eliminate the Federal tax code and it shows he is thinking like a Congressman not FOR Floridians as he does in many things

The sad thing is they are both right. ………… Pitiful really this is the best the right has, 2 lightweights...………...Sadly I use to like Putman as a decent person...………. But starting about 5 yrs ago he changed into a butthead groveler………… Exactly the opposite in Charlie Crist that stated out as a rightwing butthead but turned into a decent person. …………. So repubs drove him out of the party and many other since as many could no longer stand the corrupt stench, meanness and self dealing stealing from the people...……….Like giving Duke a $250million profit for screwing up the LevyCo nukes costing the people $3B for not 1 kwh...…...Why they were not fined instead and made to eat the costs shows the corruption and total disregard for the people of Florida.

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