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Intersection: Republican Gubernatorial Debate Recap


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Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (L) and Congressman Ron DeSantis (R).

Immigration has dominated national conversation in recent weeks, but the economy, education and school safety issues remain high on the list for candidates running for Governor too. Florida agricultural commissioner Adam Putnam and Congressman Ron DeSantis squared off Thursday night in a televised debate on Fox News.

Republican political analyst Michelle Ertel says “we’ve got two different types of Republicans.”

“We have the Donald Trump Republican and we have [someone] who started out as a Jeb Bush Republican,” Ertel says.

She adds that if one picked the other to be his running mate, they would be formidable opponents.

“DeSantis-Putnam or Putnam-DeSantis ticket, whichever one you want, it would be a winner and Democrats should be worried about that.”

During the debate, Putnam talked about the left “hijacking the debate” over gun legislation. He’s also said that “Democrats want to hijack Florida”.

“If there was a hijacking I missed it,” says former Democratic state lawmaker Dick Batchelor.

“If there was a hijacking taking place obviously they missed the hostage because Florida politics run in total at the state level by Republicans,” Batchelor says.

Ertel says since 2016 Americans have either been “engaged in loving Donald Trump or they’re engaged in hating Donald Trump.”

“Along with that comes an awareness of issues, national issues and international issues, that no one had really paid attention to before,”Ertel says. “We’ve got brand new voters forming opinions and speaking them on social media.”

On talks of immigration, Batchelor says the candidates “were dismissive.”

“They fixate on other issues and then very very quickly onto state issues the one issue they raised was Medicaid,” Batchelor says.

“I would have liked to have heard both men say how they were going to fix it. Yes, we know they don’t want to fix it by Medicaid expansion, but what do they want to do because it’s costing us way too much,” Ertel says.

Gun control came up in the debate, as did Putnam’s slip up over background checks for concealed carry licenses, and the topic of school safety. 

“No one wants to do away with the second amendment, but they’ve gotten so far right on the issue that I think in the general election it’s going to be a very hot issue,” Batchelor says.

“I think they’re going to talk about hardening the schools in putting money into mental health, more counseling, things like that. That is something I think both sides can agree needs to happen,” Ertel says.


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