Well, the governor's race is finally starting to get entertaining.
Last week, Publix Supermarkets got itself into a bit of a pickle for doling out cash to Adam Putnam, whom most of you probably know as a Chucky doll all grown up and yammering about "illegals" and "the liberal elite" in those agonizing seconds before you find the remote and fast-forward to the next segment of NCIS. Bonus points if you also know that he's Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.
Some folks were outraged to learn that Publix has been stroking big fat checks to Putnam, reportedly to the tune of $670,000 in the last three years, most recently $100,000 in April, which, if you're interested, is enough to buy 11,000 or so of those chicken tender subs.
Curiously, some conflated Publix's support of Putnam with supporting the National Rifle Association-and things got heated enough that the purveyor of Nutty Nuggets (an off-brand Grape Nuts) took to Twitter to say that it "has not provided financial support to the National Rifle Association." Suffice it to say that the cereal wasn't the only nut around that day.
Others were peeved that the company that's made courting Latinos a mission would give cash to a soldier in Trump's anti-immigrant army—which actually makes some sense—so of course this was not the narrative that carried the day. Nope, instead, a whole lot of folks came at the grocer for backing a candidate who is A-rated by the NRA. #BoycottPublix became a thing.
This is a brilliant strategy for liberals who seek to a) confirm conservatives' belief that they're insane and childish, or b) make certain that whoever wins the Democratic primary faces the somewhat-more palatable and probably electable Putnam instead of Rep. Ron DeSantis, a daytime soap opera villain lookalike whose single greatest claim to fame is having the current president's endorsement.
Though Publix felt the need to distance itself from the idea that a donation to the boy from their hometown somehow equates support for handing out AR-15s to teens as a way to increase school security, Putnam has long embraced the backlash to his love affair with the NRA. In June 2017, he even Tweeted, "The liberal media recently called me a sellout to the NRA. I'm a proud #NRASellout! Sign below if you are, too." Which certainly is one way to court those bloody gun dollars. It's also a wise campaign strategy for a candidate trying to elbow his way to the right of Trump-by-proxy DeSantis, who last August tried to weasel in an amendment on a Congressional spending bill that would've defunded the Russia investigation.
DeSantis has also said he would've vetoed the gun control law which the Florida legislature miraculously managed to pass this year, but only after it agreed to staff schools with armed guards who couldn't hack it in a police academy and are content to make $12.50/hour and hang out with schoolchildren. Putnam has been critical of the bill, particularly that it raises the gun-buying age to 21, but I couldn't find an instance of him directly saying he would've vetoed it, which is a smart move if you've got an eye to courting swing voters in the general and a dumb one if you're trying to gain support from Second Amendment fanboys and girls in the primary.
See, the thing that Republican candidates don't like to admit, at least not publicly, is that beating the competition from their own party often requires them to cozy up to the kinds of one-issue dullards who stand in the freezing-cold Washington, D.C. "swamp" each January protesting Roe v. Wade, un-ironically share clips about the Deep State conspiracy against Trump, or vote against anyone who suggests those DACA kids are anything but sleeper cell terrorists sent by their home countries to ruin the American way of life by speaking English as their first language, getting a summer job bagging groceries, and Tweeting about Yanny and Laurel (Team Laurel here—I know, so last week). When Putnam does this, he seems like a guy going against his better judgment to get votes; when DeSantis does it, he seems like a tadpole come home to the mud puddle of his birth. If you were Andrew Gillum or Gwen Graham or Phillip Levine, which one would you want to face in the general?
Honestly, the Publix SNAFU is a bit of a coup for Putnam; not only does it increase his name recognition, it makes him more appealing to voters once attracted more to the guy who looks like a reject from General Hospital than the Polk County ginger. See, in the Republican primary, the name of the game is courting the fringe contingency, which, in spite of their small numbers, turns out voters at a high-enough rate to influence the outcome. #BoycottPublix puts Putnam one step closer to the party nomination and the governor's mansion. The only real losers are Democrats, DeSantis and, of course, Publix.