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Reports: Trump-DeSantis Campaign Rally "Rattles" and Divides Florida Republicans

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GOP Strategist Reportedly Sees Trump Rally as a "potential trigger for Putnam supporters that could lead to a party divide"

Donald Trump's rally for Ron DeSantis is sparking an intense backlash from Adam Putnam supporters — and leading at least one GOP strategist to publicly worry that the "resulting bitterness may hurt the eventual [Republican] nominee in the general election." According to Republican operative Mac Stipanovich, Trump's appearance with DeSantis on Tuesday could represent a "potential trigger for Putnam supporters that could lead to a party divide moving forward."

Putnam supporters are already publicly slamming Donald Trump — the leader of their party — for backing DeSantis. In a letter published by the Tampa Bay Times, Republican activist Nancy Graves said that Trump's intervention in the gubernatorial race has left her "very disappointed and disillusioned in President Trump." Putnam supporters have echoed that criticism in papers across the state. And the animosity between the two sides isn't just limited to the op-ed section: this weekend, DeSantis supporters were accused of rigging a straw poll at a Sarasota GOP rally.

With just a month before the primary, one thing is sure: the increasingly nasty and divisive primary will seriously damage whoever wins the nomination.

Naples Daily Herald: Trump's unusual campaign rally ahead of GOP primary breaks tradition, could be 'divisive'

  • "It is divisive for Republicans, and the resulting bitterness may hurt the eventual nominee in the general election by dampening Republican enthusiasm and turnout," said Mac Stipanovich, a longtime Tallahassee-based lobbyist and Republican political strategist.
  • The Republican president's decision to hold the campaign rally Tuesday at the Florida State Fairgrounds to promote GOP candidates he believes share his agenda over other party candidates is unusual. Presidents historically haven't pit candidates of the same party against each other and avoid picking one over others in a primary.
  • "I have no memory of a president of either party campaigning for a non-incumbent candidate in a contested primary," Stipanovich added.
  • The president's effort to influence Florida politics ahead of the primary has rattled Republicans in the state who are invested in the heated GOP gubernatorial primary race, which has been an expensive one.
  • Stipanovich and others view the president's decision to get involved as a potential trigger for Putnam supporters that could lead to a party divide moving forward.

Tampa Bay Times: Letter from a disappointed supporter of Donald Trump and Adam Putnam — and a rebuttal

  • NANCY GRAVES: I am very disappointed and disillusioned in President Trump, as a Floridian. His unwelcome and uninformed meddling in our Florida gubernatorial primary is dangerous and self-serving" President Trump should understand it is not in the best interests of Floridians to elect a governor based upon a candidate's support of Donald Trump's federal legal challenges.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Adam Putnam plows ahead as Trump scrambles GOP primary for governor

  • Putnam supporters expressed concern Friday about the changing complexion of the race.
  • Venice resident Gary Budway, a retired corrections officer from Michigan, said Putnam has "earned his spot" after years of public service.
  • Responding to Trump's endorsement of DeSantis, Budway said the president should "butt out."

Panama City News Herald: Letter: Putnam supporter contrasts candidate with opponent

  • President Trump is rewarding Mr. DeSantis for being a loyal servant and isn't caring about the state of Florida with his endorsement of Mr. DeSantis. President Trump has made a mistake, and we the people of Florida have to tell the president to worry about Washington and not Tallahassee.

The Capitolist: DeSantis supporter accused of stuffing ballot box at Saturday's straw poll in Sarasota

  • A supporter of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is accused of stuffing the ballot box at Saturday's straw poll in Sarasota conducted by the Republican Party of Sarasota. The allegations delayed the results of the straw ballot from being announced publicly.