While there were a handful of upsets in Tuesday's Florida primaries, when the smoke cleared, most of the favorites went on to win. Still, after redistricting, there are plenty of new faces headed to Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. Here’s a look at some of the major winners and losers.
Central Florida’s Puerto Rican Democrats. For the past few years, pundits have said the growing Puerto Rican community on I-4 would become increasingly prominent in Florida politics. That certainly was proven correct Tuesday night. Darren Soto looks headed to Congress while Victor Torres won the primary to replace him in the Senate. Torres’ daughter Amy Mercado won the primary to take her father’s place. A good night across the board for Puerto Rican Democrats who are on the rise in Central Florida.
Lenny Curry. The Jacksonville mayor put his weight behind a proposal to extend the current sales tax rate to fund police and firefighter pensions. The proposal carried with more than 60 percent support at the polls. A loss here would have been a major blow to Curry, especially as past mayors like Tommy Hazouri with his sales tax hike and tolls elimination and John Peyton with the Better Jacksonville plan scored wins in similar referendums. Curry continues to have momentum and Tuesday was just the latest in a string of wins.
Val Demings. Making her second bid for Congress, the former Orlando police chief won big on Tuesday night. Demings took more than half of the vote in a four candidate contest, beating out established Central Florida Democrats like Bob Poe and Geri Thompson. National Democrats are already trumpeting Demings and she did not disappoint Tuesday. Look for her to get more exposure in the months to come as she gets ready to head to Washington.
The Party Establishments. Sure they had the occasional losses. The GOP bosses can’t be happy to see Brian Mast win in CD 18. Nor did a lot of Democratic leaders want Joe Garcia to beat Annette Taddeo in CD 26. But longtime elected officials reeled in wins across Florida Tuesday night and establishment favorites Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy easily dismissed the competition in the Senate contests.
Bobby Payne. This Palatka Republican, who worked for the Seminole Electric Cooperative, scored a major upset Tuesday when he won an open primary for a state House seat, beating out a former RPOF chairwoman and the wife of the incumbent. Few people saw it coming but Payne proved a hard working campaigner who knew the district. Another winner in that primary was former state Rep. Joe Pickens, now the president of St. Johns River State College, who threw his support behind Payne pretty early in the process.
Dan Bongino. A bad night for the conservative leader and former Secret Service agent. After losing twice in bids for federal office in Maryland, Bongino moved to Florida last year and garnered buzz as a possible U.S. Senate hopeful or as a candidate in CD 18. After Curt Clawson’s surprise announcement that he would not run for a second full term, Bongino launched a bid for the Republican nod in CD 19. This is a district that likes conservative outsiders like Clawson and Trey Radel back in 2012. But Bongino couldn’t get much traction here. A profanity laced interview with Marc Caputo at Politico didn’t help matters for Bongino, who finished a distant third behind Francis Rooney.
Corrine Brown. After 24 years, this Democrat lost her seat in Congress to Al Lawson, who beat her out in his third run for Congress. Of course Brown’s continued legal problems haven’t helped her but there’s more at play here. This was a far different district than she has represented in the past, going west to Lawson’s Tallahassee stomping grounds instead of heading down to Orlando. Brown fared badly in these new areas and her defeat on Tuesday night helps explain why she was so willing to work with the GOP leadership against the Fair Districts amendments back in 2010 and the various redistricting efforts.
Angela Corey. This state attorney saw her profile ascend with her major role in the George Zimmerman trial and the Marissa Alexander case. But those controversies didn’t help her at home. Neither did questions about her leadership, including giving pay raises to her staff. Corey lost badly in Tuesday night’s primary, barely scraping up a quarter of the vote
The Graysons. Bad night for the Graysons. Alan Grayson simply wasn’t a factor in the U.S. Senate primary, getting blown out by Patrick Murphy. By calling Murphy no different than a Republican, Grayson hasn’t helped his chances for yet another political comeback. The congressman’s wife fared little better. Dena Grayson was running to replace her husband in Congress but lost out to Darren Soto making a bad night even worse.
The Negrons. While Senate President Joe Negron was watching many of the home folks who supported his signature "buy land south of Lake Okeechobee" issue go down to defeat, his wife Rebecca was watching injured war veteran Brian Mast defeat her in the Republican CD 18 primary.
Annette Taddeo. Stick a fork in her. With the support of Nancy Pelosi and the DCCC, Taddeo was supposed to cruise to the Democratic nomination and over Carlos Curbelo in November. But Taddeo has never won an election, losing bids for Congress and the Miami Dade County Commission as well as her stint as Charlie Crist’s running mate two years ago. Joe Garcia is a flawed candidate to be sure, but he edged Taddeo Tuesday night. With her latest loss, Taddeo looks done as a serious contender for elected office. Of course, the South Florida version of Harold Stassen could keep trying -- and let the losses pile up.
The Van Zants. A bad night for this Northeast Florida Republican family. Katherine Van Zant tried to follow her husband Charlie in the state House but lost out to Bobby Payne. Things were also bad for Clay County School Superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr. who was under fire after accusations about fudging the numbers in regards to ESE students and plagiarizing in grad school emerged. With the support of the local teachers’ union, Addison Davis defeated Van Zant Jr. in the primary by a solid margin. As a Van Zant relative sang many years ago, “Tuesday’s gone with the wind.”