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Gubernatorial Debate Kicks Off Florida GOP’s Sunshine Summit

Crowd outside a Fox News debate at Kissimmee's Gaylord Palms Resort. Photo: Brendan Byrne

The Republican Party of Florida kicks off its annual Sunshine Summit in Kissimmee.

The two day-summit will host a GOP gubernatorial debate and a day-long panel of speakers including Republican lawmakers, pundits and candidates.

Fox News is hosting Thursday night’s debate between Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Congressman Ron DeSantis. President Donald Trump endorsed DeSantis in a tweet last week, but Putnam continues to lead in polls and money raised.

In a recent Fox News poll, Putnam holds a substantial lead over DeSantis, and also has raised more money. But a recent endorsement of DeSantis by President Trump could narrow the gap. The president took to Twitter to praise DeSantis’ stance on border security, crime and tax cuts.

The Trump administration’s immigration policy is sparking debate in many congressional races, and will spark conversation at the summit, said Florida GOP Chair Blaise Ingoglia.

“I think that immigration will take place in a lot of conversations, especially in these congressional districts because this is a federal issue,” Ingoglia told 90.7’s Intersection.

Despite immigration policy grabbing headlines, Ingoglia he believes voters are focused on the economy. “I think that the campaigns are going to be dominated and won on the economy,” he said. “I think a lot of the people are discounted the effect of this economy and how great this economy is going.”

Congressional candidates at the summit said national issues are defining local elections. “Right now I think the hot topic is immigration and the second amendment,” said Bill Akins, a Republican Congressional candidate. “People feel like they’re just nibbling away at the second amendment and of course we all want to put a stop to that. And immigration, we need to get the border under control. We understand people wanting to come here, but they need to go about it the right way.”

Florida Chairman Ingoglia said state races, like the Governor’s race, will focus more on the environment and developing business in the Sunshine State

The debate is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and will air nationally on Fox News.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »