TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 2018 primary election results are in and Ron DeSantis has secured the Republican nomination for Florida governor.
DeSantis, who was running against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and a handful of other Republican candidates surged in front of Putnam to win the nomination.
DeSantis will face Andrew Gillum in the November election. The Tallahassee mayor narrowly defeated former Rep. Gwen Graham in what was considered an upset for Graham.
President Trump tweeted his congratulations to DeSantis about 30 minutes after his win was announced.
Such a fantastic win for Ron DeSantis and the people of the Great State of Florida. Ron will be a fantastic Governor. On to November!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
Putnam was leading in polls until President Trump backed DeSantis. After the president's endorsement, polls leading up to and throughout the voting period for the primary launched DeSantis past Putnam in the race to replace two-term Gov. Rick Scott. As early voting numbers came in, polls showed the candidates closer than before.
Trump also rallied for DeSantis in Tampa, calling him "fearless" and a "fighter" for the people of Florida.
DeSantis and Putnam exchanged blows in a debate earlier this month, during which Putnam told DeSantis "the Trump card" was the only card he had.
Putnam said he had a "Florida-first" agenda and bashed DeSantis by calling him the "Seinfeld" candidate because of how much time he'd spent in the studio and making appearances on Fox News. Putnam also criticized DeSantis by saying he would do things "the Washington way."
Also during the debate, the candidates discussed their plans on how to improve school safety. DeSantis and Putnam both said they disagreed with the idea that banning the sale of specific weapons was not the solution. DeSantis said the focus should be shifted more toward school security measures, whereas Putnam focused his answer on law enforcement officers working more closely with school administrators to be aware of students with behavioral issues.
The two candidates also traded blows over the environment and the recent toxic algal blooms that have hit the state's two coasts, as well as a number of other issues. Watch the full debate here.
During his acceptance speech Tuesday night, DeSantis celebrated his endorsement from President Trump.
"So I'm not always the most popular guy in D.C., but I did have support from someone in Washington. If you walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, he lives in the White House with pillars in front of it," DeSantis said. "I was able to talk to the president. I want to thank him for his support. I want to thank him for entrusting me, for viewing me as great leader for Florida. So, thank you, Mr. President."
Also during his speech, DeSantis talked about his hopes and plans for the state, if elected governor.
"My goal as governor is to attract a wider variety of industries with higher paying jobs so people who were born and raised here can go to college," he said. "They can end up staying here and working. They don't even have to leave the state to have a great job."
DeSantis said he wants to continue the state's success and build on it.
Aside from his endorsement from President Trump and time spent representing Florida's Sixth District, DeSantis prides himself on his years of service in the U.S. military, his time as a federal and military prosecutor, and being a conservative family man. See where he stands on other issues here.
During his concession speech, Putnam said he called DeSantis to congratulate him and said he would rally behind him in November.
"He's a veteran, a solid conservative, he will be our governor in November," Putnam said.
Putnam still offered well wishes to the next leader of Florida.
"It's been said that when one door closes, another door opens," Putnam said. But we often look so long at the closed door that we miss the one that's been opened for us. Let's not dwell on the closed door this evening, but turn our sights on the call to put Florida first."
The candidate who received the highest number of votes secures the nomination in Florida partisan primary elections.