Florida primary voters made some surprising choices Tuesday night, giving President Trump’s endorsed gubernatorial candidate a resounding victory on the Republican side while going with a Bernard Sanders-backed Democrat over a U.S. House member.
Within minutes of Florida’s primary polling locations closing Tuesday night, outlets declared Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis victorious with well over 50 percent of the vote over Adam Putnam, the state agricultural commissioner.
An Ivy League Iraq War veteran and Fox News contributor, Mr. DeSantis crushed Mr. Putnam, 44, who outraised Mr. DeSantis and enjoyed a commanding lead early in the race. With 92 percent of the vote counted, Mr. DeSantis had 56 percent of the vote, returns showed.
In the primary’s final days, Mr. Trump recorded a robocall for Mr. DeSantis’ campaign and used his widely followed Twitter feed to boost Mr. DeSantis. He cheered Mr. DeSantis’ victory by tweeting: “Ron will be a fantastic Governor. On to November!”
Meanwhile, first-term Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham, 55, was defeated by liberal favorite Andrew Gillum, who surged in late polls to leapfrog her and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.
With 95 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Gillum had 34 percent of the vote, giving him a 3-point edge over Ms. Graham. Mr. Levine was in third with 20 percent. If elected, Mr. Gillum will be the state’s first black governor.
Liberals were quick to congratulate Mr. Gillum, and billionaire Tom Steyer announced his left-wing PAC, NextGen, “will be doing all it can to ensure Ron DeSantis is defeated.”
Mr. Sanders also voiced his pleasure. “No one person can take on the economic and political elites on their own. Tonight, Floridians joined Andrew in standing up and demanding change in their community. That’s what the political revolution is all about, and Andrew Gillum is helping to lead it,” he said.
The primary for Florida’s U.S. Senate race went exactly as predicted, with incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson running unopposed while term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott garnered nearly 90 percent of his party’s vote.
In a central Florida U.S. House primary, state media called incumbent Democratic Rep. Darren Soto a winner over former Rep. Alan Grayson, a liberal firebrand. Mr. Grayson brought considerable baggage to his return bid, including a House ethics office finding that there was “a substantial reason to believe” Mr. Grayson had violated rules in some financial dealings.
Oklahoma and Arizona also had primaries Tuesday, though the polls in Arizona had barely closed at press time.
In the highest-profile Oklahoma race, political newcomer Kevin Stitt defeated former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The 45-year-old owner of Gateway Mortgage Group will face Democrat Drew Edmondson in November.
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