Close Contests Across Florida on Primary Day
Around the State
This is it -- primary Election Day in Florida -- in a state of increasing national importance and political vigor. As the rest of America watches -- for that matter, as Florida intently watches itself -- voters go to the polls to decide who will be their party's nominees in November’s general election.
From the end of Reconstruction to the return of the Republicans in the 1960s, winning the Democratic primary was tantamount to winning the office with a handful of exceptions, as in 1916 when Prohibition Party candidate Sidney Catts was elected governor. It’s not like that these days, in most cases, and there are some competitive races shaping up in November.
Here are some of the leading races Floridians will be deciding on Tuesday:
Governor: All eyes will be on the results of the acrimonious Republican primary contest between Attorney General Bill McCollum and health-care executive Rick Scott. State CFO Alex Sink is a heavy favorite to defeat Brian Moore for the Democratic nomination. Bud Chiles, who is running without party affiliation, will face the winners in November.
U.S. Senate: After a bitter struggle, polls find U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek ahead of billionaire financier Jeff Greene for the Democratic nomination with other candidates, including former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, as nonfactors. Former House Speaker Marco Rubio should have no problem overcoming minor opposition to win the Republican nomination. Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running without party affiliation, will take on the winners in the general election.
Attorney General: There are close contests in both primaries. Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, former Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi and former Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Holly Benson are battling for the Republican nomination. Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach and Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres are fighting it out for the Democratic nomination. The Democrats and Republicans already have candidates for state CFO and agriculture and consumer services commissioner, so the attorney general contests are the only Cabinet races on the ballot on Tuesday.
CD 2: Congressman Allen Boyd will face a primary challenger from Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson of Tallahassee, for the Democratic nomination. Boyd’s Republican opponent from 2008, Eddie Hendry, is running again. Hendry will face Ron McNeil, attorney, and former professional tennis player Barbara Olschner, pilot David Scholl and funeral home owner Steve Southerland for the Republican nomination. Southerland is the favorite, but some of the other candidates have put together impressive ground campaigns.
CD 3: Incumbent Congresswoman Corrine Brown takes on attorney Scott Fortune for the Democratic nomination. Fortune has waged an aggressive campaign, attacking Brown for her opposition to redistricting measures backed by FairDistricts Florida, but he is an underdog to defeat Brown. Businessman Dean Black, who used to host a radio show, will face businessman Mike Yost and Duval County Young Republicans President Chris Nwaskie for the Republican nomination.
CD 5: Hernando County Sheriff Rich Nugent is the favorite over conservative activist Jason Sager for the Republican nomination to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite.
CD 6: Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns faces former Winter Springs City Councilman Don Browning for the Republican nomination. Browning has offered a spirited challenge to Stearns but he is an underdog to knock off the longtime incumbent.
CD 8: Democrat Alan Grayson looks to defend his congressional seat against one of a host of Republican challengers. Former state senator and House Speaker Daniel Webster, Rep. Kurt Kelly, R-Ocala, businessman Bruce O'Donoghue, business owner Ross Bieling, Navy vet Dan Fanelli, attorney Todd Long who ran for the seat in 2008 and tea party activist Patricia Sullivan are all running to take on Grayson. The GOP establishment has rallied behind Webster but this contest will be one to watch on Tuesday night.
CD 9: League of United Latin American Citizens activist Anita de Palma and attorney Phil Hindahl are battling for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis in November.
CD 11: Congresswoman Kathy Castor faces a challenge from Marine vet and tea party activist Tim Curtis for the Democratic nomination. Castor is a heavy favorite over Curtis. Mike Prendergast, a veteran of the Army and former aide to Bob Graham, is the favorite for the Republican nomination, but he faces architect Eddie Adams, who had the Republican nomination in 2006 and 2008, consultant Tony Buntyn, and contractor and Vietnam veteran Thomas Castellano.
CD 12: With Adam Putnam leaving Congress to run for state agriculture and consumer services commissioner, Dennis Ross, a former state representative, will battle it out with tea party activist John Lindsey for the Republican nomination. Ross is a heavy favorite to win the nod. Polk County Elections Supervisor Lori Edwards will duke it out with Douglas Tudor, who ran against Putnam in 2008, for the Democratic nomination.
CD 13: Just like 2008, Congressman Vern Buchanan will face off once again against fire-alarm contractor Don Baldauf for the Republican nomination and is a heavy favorite. Businessman Rick Eaton and former Bradenton City Councilman James Golden -- both veterans of the armed forces -- will fight it out for the Democratic nomination.
CD 16: While former Congressman Tim Mahoney decided not to pursue a rematch, there are two Democrats looking to take on Republican Congressman Tom Rooney. Army veteran and contractor Jim Horn will take on Ed Tautiva, a middle school teacher, for the Democratic nomination.
CD 17: With Meek vacating this seat to run for the U.S. Senate, a crowd of candidates lined up to run in the Democratic primary. Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, Haitian-American activist Marleine Bastien, and physician and businessman Dr. Rudy Moise lead the pack, with Rep. Yolly Roberson, D-North Miami Beach, former Rep. Phillip Brutus (who was once married to Roberson), Rep. James Bush, D-Miami, Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson, Miami Gardens Councilman Andre Williams and North Miami Councilman Scott Galvin trying to catch up. This primary will be one to watch on Tuesday night.
CD 20: Three Republicans are fighting it out to take on Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Restaurant owner Karen Harrington, Broward County businessman Robert Lowry and local activist Donna Milo are all running in the Republican primary.
CD 22: Democratic Congressman Ron Klein is facing challenges on two fronts. Air Force veteran Paul Renneisen is back to once again challenge Klein in the primary. Retired Army officer Allen West, who lost to Klein in 2008, wants a rematch but he has to get by David Brady first for the Republican nomination. Klein and West should prevail in what is shaping up to be one of the most watched congressional races in the nation come November.
CD 24: Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas faces opponents inside and outside her party. Former Winter Springs Mayor Paul Partyka will challenge Kosmas in the Democratic primary. Former Ruth's Chris CEO Craig Miller, Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel and Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Oveido, are leading the crowded field for the Republican nomination with Navy vet Tom Garcia and attorney Deon Long trailing. Kosmas should get by Partyka in the primary but the Republican battle will be one to watch on Tuesday night.
CD 25: With Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart vacating this seat to run for the seat now held by his brother Lincoln, Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, is the leading candidate to win the Republican nomination despite recent bad press. Attorney Marli Cancio, who had considered running as an independent, and Marine Corps vet and professor Paul Crespo stand in Rivera’s way for the Republican nod. Obama administration appointee Joe Garcia, who once chaired the Miami-Dade Democrats and ran for the seat in 2008, faces labor activist Luis Meurice in the Democratic primary.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.