President Trump last month endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis (R), who has not yet declared a bid for governor.
Trump: “Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!” (Twitter)
Trump’s endorsement came shortly after Air Force One touched down at Palm Beach International Airport. “Fox News, which played on cabin TVs, featured a segment with Rep. DeSantis toward the end of the flight.” (White House pool report)
DeSantis said he’ll appear on Fox “in the new year and be happy to break some news then.” (News Service of Florida)
A “handful of the biggest and most influential billionaires in Republican politics threw their support behind” DeSantis, including, “casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, hedge fund heiress Rebekah Mercer, investment tycoon Foster Friess,” former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie, Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, broker Thomas Peterffy, Westgate Resorts CEO David Siegel, hedge fund manager John Thaler, and Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy. (Politico)
“Entrepreneurs JR and Loren Ridinger, the wealthy founders of Market America, who count the Kardashians, Eva Longoria and Jennifer Lopez as close friends, are busy raising money and support for”
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine (D). “They are asking friends to each make a $3,000 donation to Levine’s campaign.” (New York Post)
“IF I DROP OUT.” Outgoing state Sen. Jack Latvala’s (R) “major donors such as Tampa Electric and Duke Energy are asking for refunds” following his resignation in the wake of sexual assault allegations. “Besides his individual gubernatorial campaign account and his Florida Leadership Committee, Latvala controls two more political committees: Twenty-First Century Florida Committee and Sawgrass PAC. Both have about $10,000, records show. Latvala said he has no intention of closing the Florida Leadership Committee and will operate it within its stated purpose: To promote the interests of its members via campaigns and political outreach, … adding he’ll decide what to do with it after Jan. 1.”
Latvala: “If I drop out of the governor’s race, the donors who gave to the campaign will get a prorated portion of the money back.” (Tampa Bay Times)
Latvala’s Twitter account has “vanished, along with his tweets.” (Florida Politics)
BY THE NUMBERS. “Jeff Roe, founder of Remington Research Group and a top adviser for Ted Cruz’s failed presidential bid, is out with a new” IVR poll (1,423 Republican LVs) showing DeSantis with a slight lead at 38 percent, “ahead of state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) (35 percent), and state House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) (3 percent).”
Trump “is viewed favorably by 84 percent of Republican primary voters. ‘Additionally, a plurality of voters, 36 percent, claimed to be a “Trump Republican” when asked what type of Republican they considered themselves to be.’”
“The poll was not funded by any campaign or committee directly aligned with the governor’s race. Roe is also not working for any of the campaigns.” (Politico)
According to a Gravis Marketing poll (IVR + online) (Dec. 19-24; 5,778 rvS; +/-1.3 percent), former Rep. Gwen Graham (D) at 18% and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) at 12% led the Democratic primary. Levine and housing investor Chris King (D) trailed in the single digits.
Among Republicans, Putnam led DeSantis 23-12 percent. Latvala and Corcoran got 2 percent each.
“Currently, Gwen Graham and Adam Putnam are tied at 32% with 37% undecided. Gillum and Putnam are tied at a similar 31%. The undecided voters are evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats hold a single digit lead among independent voters. … The three-way ballot test between Graham, Putnam and [former Democratic megadonor John] Morgan gives Putnam a 27%-23%-17% lead. Morgan takes a quarter of independents and twice as many Democrats as he does Republicans.”
“Trump’s favorable rating in Florida has sunk to 39% with 53% viewing him unfavorably.” (Orlando Political Observer)
MESSAGE RECEIVED. Levine “has sent a 140-page hardcover book called ‘The Journey’ about himself to key Democrats across Florida.”
Gillum “spent about $20,000 to send key Democrats across Florida a mailer about himself.” (Tampa Bay Times)