Vice President Mike Pence is reportedly putting his thumb on the scale for Adam Putman over Ron DeSantis in the Republican primary for Florida governor.
There is an easy way to do it.
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Pence is making moves to keep President Donald Trump from getting too involved in the governor’s race, mostly because Pence had served with Putnam more than a decade ago in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“After allies of Putnam appealed to the vice president, Pence — along with cautious White House aides — argued against further meddling in the race, according to people briefed on the White House deliberations,” the Times wrote. “Trump has yet to appear with DeSantis.”
In December, Trump tweeted support for DeSantis, who had been a staunch supporter of Trump and particularly vocal against special counsel Robert Mueller in his probe on Russian influence on the 2016 election.
DeSantis was later told privately “to expect a joint appearance this spring,” and he remains optimistic Trump will actively intervene on his behalf, despite internal resistance from the vice president.
Nevertheless, if Pence really wants the boss to chill his enthusiasm on DeSantis, there are several ways to do it. But one may be particularly effective: simply show Trump this POLITICO Florida story — “DeSantis rented condo owned by campaign donor after redistricting.”
Once redistricting moved DeSantis out of his old district — and after a failed 2016 bid for U.S. Senate — he needed quick action for his re-election bid to Florida’s 6th Congressional District, a seat DeSantis held since 2012.
As POLITICO’s Matt Dixon notes: “DeSantis decided to move into a Flagler County condo whose owners include Kent Stermon and Matt Connell, both executives at Total Military Management. [The] Jacksonville-based company serves as a third-party relocation service for U.S. military personnel.”
Total Military Management is a longtime registered congressional lobbyist for defense-industry issues. Federal records show Sterman and Connell, along with a super PAC associated with the company, gave DeSantis’ campaign almost $60,000 for his congressional campaign. Dixon writes the company also wrote a $3,000 check to Putnam six months before DeSantis entered the race.
What’s more, DeSantis listed the condo as his home address when signing a mortgage in October 2017 for a house in CD 6.
“A guy he knew said he owned a condo in Flagler that he could rent while they looked,” DeSantis representative Brad Herold told POLITICO. “Moved in July, moved out in November.”
When DeSantis finally entered the race two months later (after much speculation), he vowed to “drain the swamp in Tallahassee, which needs to be drained just like Washington.”
While it’s a popular refrain that closely echoes Trump, DeSantis should be a bit more careful before making such a claim — as someone waist-deep in the same swamp he wants to drain.
And one person is definitely paying attention: Mike Pence.