FLORIDA -- Demonstrating the power of President Donald Trump's popularity among Republicans, U.S. Rep Ron DeSantis completed a comeback win over state Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam and claimed the party's nomination for governor of Florida.
- Race called just after 8 p.m.
- Putnam led race early
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The Associated Press called the race for DeSantis just after 8 p.m. EST.
At the time the race was called, DeSantis had just over 57 percent of the vote. Putnam trailed by double-digits with just over 37 percent.
Not long after, Putnam announced to a crowd of supporters that he'd conceded the race.
"A few moments ago, I called Congressman DeSantis to congratulate him on winning our party's nomination to be governor of the great state of Florida," Putnam said. "I also let him know that I will be happy to help do any and everything that we can do to rally behind his campaign to be successful in November."
"He's a veteran, he's a solid conservative and he will need our help in November," he added.
He went on to thank those who had supported his campaign all along and look forward to the future.
"I'm inspired by your passion," Putnam said. "And let me assure you that me and my family have been uplifted by the prayers that we have felt all over the state."
"Not always the most popular guy in D.C."
Later in the evening a jubilant DeSantis addressed his supporters, thanking them and President Donald Trump for their support in the race.
"I'm not always the most popular guy in D.C.," he said. "But I did have support from someone in Washington. If you walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, he lives in the white house with the pillars in front of it."
"I think this victory is a testament," he continued. "I was just a messenger, but you guys really provided the muscle and the know-how to get this done, so thank you everybody who supported us. Thank you so much."
The Trump effect
DeSantis has represented Florida's 6th Congressional District in Washington since his election to the U.S. House in 2012. He carries into this election perhaps the most coveted endorsement possible on the Republican side, that of President Donald Trump.
Before the president's endorsement, Putnam, a Florida Republican Party veteran who has served the state in various capacities, led the race by a considerable margin.
However, it's been a different story since, as DeSantis has surged in the polls thanks to Trump's support in person and on social media.
Recent polls show DeSantis has taken a slight lead over Putnam. A Gravis Marketing poll conducted Aug. 21-25 polling 1,285 registered likely voters in Florida showed DeSantis supported by 39 percent of respondents. Putnam trailed at 27 percent, with 23 percent undecided.
Similarly, a Florida Atlantic University poll of 800 registered voters conducted Aug. 16 -20 showed DeSantis supported by 32 percent of respondents. Here, the margin for DeSantis was smaller, with Putnam supporters making up 31 percent of respondents and 22 precent undecided.
Putnam's campaign had a rough summer. In addition to not gaining Trump's support, he also had to contend with a scandal over concealed weapons permits and background checks coming out of an agency under his supervision.
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