Democratic race for governor highlights Florida primary
MIAMI (AP) — GOVERNOR
The Democratic primary pits U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a former governor as a Republican, against Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is currently Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat. The winner will face Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in November. Crist last served in statewide office from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican governor. He lost a 2010 race for U.S. Senate as an independent and a 2014 run for governor as a Democrat.
Former Orlando-area State Attorney Aramis Ayala and Dan Uhlfelder are among three Democrats hoping to challenge Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody, who doesn’t have a primary opponent. Ayala received national attention for refusing to seek the death penalty in murder cases. Uhlfelder has been a frequent critic of DeSantis and made headlines by walking Panhandle beaches dressed as the Grim Reaper to protest the governor’s COVID-19 policies.
Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson is running in the GOP primary for agriculture commissioner against little-known candidate James Shaw. Three Democrats — Naomi Blemur, J.R. Gaillot and Ryan Morales — are on the primary ballot, though none has raised enough money or has the name recognition to run a credible statewide campaign.
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Incumbent Republican Jimmy Patronis has no GOP opposition for chief financial officer. He will face Democratic former state Rep. Adam Hattersley, who also has no opposition, in the November general election.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings is running against three little-known, underfunded candidates for her party’s nomination to face Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has no primary challenger.
Florida this year will elect at least six new members of Congress – four because incumbents are retiring or seeking higher office and two because of the creation of a new district and redrawing of current districts that pit two incumbents against each. Here are the key primaries:
—District 1: Republican incumbent Matt Gaetz is being challenged by Mark Lombardo and Greg Merk. In 2020, Gaetz won the primary with 80.9% of the vote against Merk and another candidate. This year, Lombardo, a veteran and business executive, is a well-financed opponent, having sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money in the race in the hopes that GOP voters in the western Panhandle aren’t happy with Gaetz’ frequent inflammatory remarks.
—District 4: State Sen. Aaron Bean is among three Republicans seeking this open Jacksonville-area seat. The other two are Erick Aguilar and Jon Chuba. On the Democratic side, former state Sen. Anthony Hill faces LaShonda Holloway, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2020. Republicans have an advantage in the district.
_District 7: Eight Republicans and four Democrats are seeking the seat left open by Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s decision to leave Congress. The district extends from Seminole County to the Atlantic Coast and now leans Republican after redistricting. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini is among the Republican candidates. Among Democrats are Karen Green, a former Florida Democratic Party vice chair, and Al Krulick who has run unsuccessfully for Congress three other times.
_District 10: Ten Democrats and six Republicans are seeking the seat left open by Democratic Rep. Val Demings’ decision to run for Senate. Among Democrats are former U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Alan Grayson. Brown is a convicted felon from Jacksonville and Grayson is an outspoken former congressman whose inflammatory comments generated headlines. His two recent efforts to return to Washington have failed. Social justice activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost has a money advantage and a number of high-profile endorsements. State Sen. Randolph Bracy is also in the primary for the seat in a firmly Democratic district.
—District 11: Nationally known far-right activist Laura Loomer, who’s been banned by several social media platforms because of anti-Muslim and other remarks, is challenging incumbent Republican Dan Webster, who has served central Florida districts since 2011.
—District 13: Five Republicans are seeking the nomination in the St. Petersburg-area seat left open when Crist decided to run for governor. It is essentially a rematch between Anna Paulina Luna and Amanda Makki, who came in first and second respectively in a five-way primary two years ago. The formerly competitive seat now leans Republican. The winner will face Democrat Eric Lynn, who worked in the Obama administration.
_District 15: Five Republicans are competing for the new district east of Tampa. The top Republicans include former Secretary of State Laura Lee, state Sen. Kelli Stargel and state Rep. Jackie Toledo. Five Democrats are also seeking the nomination in the district that heavily favors Republicans.
_District 20: Democratic U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is facing primary competition in the seat she won in a special election earlier this year. Former Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, who lost to Cherfilus-McCormick by five votes, and state Rep. Anika Omphroy, are also running for the seat that includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.
_District 23: Six Democrats and seven Republicans are running for the South Florida seat left open by Democratic Rep Ted Deutch’s decision to retire. The most prominent name among Democrats is Jared Moskowitz, the former state representative who helped pass gun legislation after the Parkland shootings, and who served as DeSantis’ emergency management director. The seat is firmly Democratic.
_District 27: State Sen. Annette Taddeo, who was Crist’s lieutenant governor running mate in 2014, and Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell are among three Democratic candidates hoping to challenge Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar. The Miami-area district has switched parties several times in recent years.
This story corrects District 10 candidate’s name to Maxwell Alejandro Frost instead of Alejandro Frost.