Across Florida A Big Night For Congressional Incumbents

The Florida Congressional Delegation Has A Great Night


By  KEVIN DERBY Sunshine State News

While some members of the Florida delegation faced high profile primaries, incumbents beat back challenges across the Sunshine State on Tuesday night as candidates from both sides of the aisle get ready for November.

In Central Florida, freshman U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., impressively dispatched former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., beating him 66 percent to 34 percent. Soto will be the favorite in November over Republican Wayne Liebnitzky in this solidly blue district.

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., also looks headed back to Capitol Hill for a second term after his win on Tuesday night. While he lost Duval County to former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, Lawson swept the rest of his North Florida district, winning the primary by more than 20 percent.Lawson will be a heavy favorite against Republican Virginia Fuller in the general election.

With U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. running for Florida governor, Republicans turned to Army veteran and former Dick Cheney aide Michael Waltz to replace him. Waltz took 42 percent in the primary, beating businessman John Ward and former state Rep. Fred Costello. Nancy Soderberg, who served in the Clinton administration on the National Security Council, easily won the Democratic primary.

In Central Florida, state Rep. Ross Spano won the Republican primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla. Spano beat former state Rep. Neil Combee 44 percent to 34 percent with three other Republicans dividing a quarter of the vote. Attorney Kristen Carlson won the Democratic primary but will face an uphill challenge in this GOP leaning district.

With 62 percent of the vote, state Sen. Greg Steube scored a decisive win over Republican primary foes Bill Akins and state Rep. Julio Gonzalez to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla. Steube will take on Democrat April Freeman who is running for Congress for a third time.

In the crowded race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., former U.S. HHS Sec. Donna Shalala, who led the University of Miami, scored a narrow win in the Democratic primary over state Rep. David Richardson. On the Republican side, journalist Maria Salazar scored a decisive win over the crowded field with former state Rep. Bruno Barreiro placing a distant second.

Other incumbents won by big margins on Tuesday night as Republican U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Brian Mast, Matt Gaetz and Ted Yoho and Democrats U.S. Reps.Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings and Frederica Wilson scored decisive wins in the primaries. Demings and Wilson are now assured of reelection while Hastings faces only a write-in opponent come November.

In other primaries, state Rep. Mike Miller beat businessman Scott Sturgill for the Republican nomination to challenge Murphy. Lauren Baer beat former U.S. Senate Pam Keith for the Democratic nomination to challenge Mast. In a narrow win, former Leon County Commissioner Bob Rackleff won the Democratic primary over Brandon Peters to take on U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., in what is considered a reliable GOP distinct.


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