In the first straw poll of 2018, Adam Putnam and Matt Caldwell captured victories among party activists.
By Sean David Hartman
In a statewide race straw poll held by the Florida Republican Women’s Network, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam defeated Ponte Verde Beach Congressman Ron DeSantis for Governor, with Judge Moody, CFO Patronis, and Representative Caldwell winning their respective polls.
Congressman DeSantis, a Tea Party favorite, was no match for the more humble Commissioner, whose Southern charm matched with conservative principles had earned him 77% of the straw poll vote, to Congressman DeSantis’ 21%, showing Commissioner Putnam broad support not just from establishment moderates but from Tea Party conservatives who would usually shun career politicians like the Commissioner.
“Grassroots win all the time,” Commissioner Putnam told the Central Florida Post. “Florida wants a Governor who knows Florida best and always puts Florida First, and that’s why you’re seeing so much energy behind my campaign.”
The conservative Congressman who is running as a Trump-style outsider has recently come under fire from his own conservative base for his vote for a massive spending compromise that raised the deficit by trillions. Congressman DeSantis justified his vote by stating the trillions of dollars of debt was necessary to increase an already bloated military budget, showing more concern with protecting the military-industrial complex than with the debt my generation will be forced to pay.
In the Attorney General straw poll, Former Tampa Judge Ashley Moody beat out all her opponents with 73% of the vote. Judge Moody has been the frontrunner, and received support from across the GOP, including a large amount County Sheriffs and State Attorneys, and the incumbent Attorney General Pam Bondi.This has put a target on her back, with the Fant campaign pulling up past association with liberal elitists, including supporters of the Clinton/Kaine campaign, though there is little evidence that Judge Moody agrees with their stances.
Pensacola State Representative Frank White, who had campaign staffer Caleb Spencer in attendance as his representation, received 23%, with Jacksonville State Representative Jay Fant and State Representative Ross Spano (who is responsible for the controversial “porn bill”) each received one vote.
The tightest race seemed to come from Commissioner of Agriculture, where North Fort Myers State Representative Matt Caldwell edged out Sebring State Senator Denise Grimsley with 50% to 46%. Representative Caldwell is considered more conservative, having been a regular at his local Tea Party Meetings, and is generally considered the most conservative member of his county delegation.
“As Rubio’s Lee County Chair in 2009, I saw firsthand how the grassroots can make all the difference,” Representative Caldwell told the Central Florida Post, “I’m honored to have won the support of the Florida Women’s Political Network today.”
To be clear, Representative Caldwell won the support in a straw poll, but has received no endorsement from the political networking group.
Sean David Hartman is a freelance reporter for the Central Florida Post, with a wide portfolio ranging from entertainment to politics. He is a centrist political operative and blogger and a student at UCF. Hartman is autistic and bipolar, and supports the neurodiversity movement.