"Where's Ron?" provided by Putnam Campaign

Giving the best indication that the race for the Republican nomination to be Florida’s next governor has tightened, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam went after Ron DeSantis Monday accusing the Congressman of spending most of his time in Washington and talking more about federal issues instead of ones that directly impact Florida.

Putnam’s campaign released a cartoon fashioned after the Where’s Waldo books titled “Where’s Ron?” The campaign is pushing the narrative that DeSantis is ill prepared to be governor because he’s not focused on Florida-specific issues and typically declines comment when asked about them.

“Apparently, the congressman has been so busy running his campaign from D.C. and seeking out of state donations that he hasn’t had time to weigh in,” said Putnam spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice.

Putnam and DeSantis are starkly different candidates. Putnam has run a grassroots campaign visiting cities big and small throughout Florida. He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the state. DeSantis, who’s been in the race since January, until recently seemed to relied on two things – his frequent live interviews on Fox News and an implied endorsement by President Trump.

DeSantis has stepped up his ground game recently appearing two weeks ago in Northwest Florida with fellow Congressman Matt Gaetz, this past weekend in Clay County and Monday night in Manatee County. DeSantis challenge is fulfilling his responsibilities as a Congressman which keeps him in Washington most of the week and being in Florida to campaign for the Republican nomination.

One thing appears very clear – the Florida Chamber poll released last week showing Putnam with a 17-point lead was an outlier and, based on Putnam’s actions, this race has tightened with a primary election just 10 weeks away.

David Bishop is a native Floridian, husband and father. During his 30 year career, David has been a journalist, political operative and communications consultant.