Adam Putnam may have some competition for the Republican nomination for Florida Governor after all.
Sources very familiar with the thinking of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis note that he is looking at a run for the state’s top job, with a decision to be made late in the summer.
Were he to run, he would be a very serious candidate for the job — posing an existential threat to Putnam, as DeSantis could very quickly own the space to Putnam’s right.
DeSantis, who was far and away the strongest fundraiser in the GOP primary race for Senate in 2016 (ended when Marco Rubio decided to run for re-election), has some advantages that others lack.
Among them: name identification, as Team DeSantis asserts that the nationally-known Northeast Florida Congressman has better name id than either Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran or State Sen. Jack Latvala.
As well, DeSantis has $3M at his disposal already; were he to enter the race, that war chest would grow quickly.
However, no decision is imminent — yet. DeSantis is still working on the federal level, with a number of issues he wants to push forward ahead of the August recess.
DeSantis, unlike presumptive GOP Senate nominee Rick Scott, has not secured or even asked for the blessing of President Donald Trump. However, given DeSantis’ national profile, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Trump does not support the nationally-known conservative.
Conversations DeSantis is having about the race are the kind of stakeholder talks one would expect in the pre-candidacy phase — “open” conversations with local, state, and national figures.
Those conversations reveal a “real hesitation about Putnam,” we are told.
Meanwhile, any support that Corcoran may be interested in securing from Americans for Prosperity may be blunted, effectively, by the vast majority of members of the board of directors having given to DeSantis for Senate already.
DeSantis is going to be worth watching in the next few months, as he has the biggest national profile of any potential gubernatorial candidate, with hits on Fox News Channel a few times a week.
While Attorney General may be another option, the reality is that for DeSantis, the time to make a move for the top job in the state is likely now.
For Northeast Florida conservatives, meanwhile, DeSantis may be the best shot in decades to take the governor’s office.