Palm Beach County Trump backers host DeSantis; not interested in Putnam, Corcoran

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, at the kickoff of his campaign for governor in Boca Raton in January. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Rep. and 2018 Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, will get an exclusive chance to tap into President Donald Trump‘s base of supporters on Monday night when he speaks at a Palm Beach County Trump Club gathering in West Palm Beach.

Ron DeSantis and attorrney general candidate Jay Fant will speak to the Palm Beach County Trump Club on Monday.

More than 600 people had RSVP’d for the event at the Palm Beach Kennel Club as of Friday, organizers said.

The local Trump booster club is one of several such organizations formed around Florida in the past year to try to engage Trump supporters who aren’t necessarily traditional Republican voters. The local organization drew about 350 people for its initial meeting in February, which featured Trump’s favorite pastor, Mark Burns.

DeSantis’ GOP primary rivals — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and likely candidate Richard Corcoran, the speaker of the Florida House — won’t get a similar audience with Trump backers, Palm Beach County Trump Club Vice President Larry Snowden said.

“Donald Trump has endorsed Ron DeSantis and we are only inviting that endorsee to speak at our club,” Snowden said.

On Dec. 22, as Air Force One taxied on the runway at Palm Beach International Airport  before Trump began a Christmas-New Year’s stay at Mar-a-Lago, the president tweeted: “Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!”

Trump clubs began cropping up around Florida last year. The Republican Party of Florida gave its blessing to several of the clubs in hopes of persuading Trump backers — many of whom are disdainful of the GOP establishment — to turn out for Republican candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.

In January 2016, when much of the GOP establishment in Florida backed Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio for president, Joe Budd was an early supporter of Donald Trump. Budd, now the county’s Republican state committeeman, is president of a local Trump club. The club’s VP, Larry Snowden, is behind Budd in this picture. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County’s Trump Club is independent of the Republican Party even though its president, Joe Budd, is Palm Beach County’s Republican state committeeman and its other leaders — Vice President Snowden; his wife and the club’s Treasurer, Sue Snowden; and Secretary Linda Stoch — are longtime GOP activists.

Although the local Trump Club isn’t an official party organ, Larry Snowden said it shares the GOP goal of electing Republicans in 2018 — because that is Trump’s goal.

“Donald Trump is all about electing more Republicans in the midterms and we are totally supporting Donald Trump,” Snowden said. “We are completely aligned with our president’s posture on electing more Republicans and not electing more Democrats.”