TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on the primary election in Florida (all times local):
Former Clinton administration Cabinet member and university president Donna Shalala has won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. House seat in Florida.
Shalala defeated four candidates Tuesday in the Miami-area race. Incumbent Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring. The seat is widely viewed as one of the Democrats’ best chances for a pickup.
Seventy-seven-year-old Shalala served eight years as President Bill Clinton’s Health and Human Services secretary. She also was president of both the University of Miami and the University of Wisconsin.
Shalala banked that voters would see her experience as an asset. The Democratic candidates had similar positions on most key issues, such as tackling climate change, reducing gun violence, improving health care, and overhauling immigration. But none could match Shalala’s lengthy record or familiar name.
Gillum won the primary Tuesday after upsetting a field of better-known and better funded candidates. He defeated a field that included former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who aimed to follow her father to the office and become the state’s first woman governor.
Gillum was a favorite among many groups that call themselves progressive Democrats. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont endorsed him.
DeSantis entered the race in January and largely built his name recognition with near-nightly Fox News appearances. Trump’s endorsement helped him overtake Putnam, who has held elected office nearly his entire adult life.
DeSantis is a former Navy lawyer who won his seat in 2012 running as a Washington outsider. He ran for Senate in 2016 but dropped out of the race when Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio decided to run for re-election after a failed presidential campaign.
Nelson wasn’t on the ballot Tuesday because no other Democrat challenged him in the state primary.
The two-term governor is leaving office because of term limits and entered the race for Senate at the urging of President Donald Trump.
For Christi Lane Fritz and Kevin Fritz, the most important issues on their minds as they went to vote at a senior center in downtown Orlando were gun control and the environment.
They wanted to see a ban on the bump stock, waiting periods for gun purchases, tighter controls on assault weapons and stricter background check on gun buyers. Keeping the waters around the Florida peninsula free of oil rigs was at the top of their list “for tourism, for one thing, and our general health,” said Kevin Fritz, who runs a communications firm.
The Orlando couple had a hard time deciding on the Democratic gubernatorial candidate since several of the five candidates shared so many similar positions. They settled on Gwen Graham within the last few days.
“There wasn’t so much a defining factor as much as going with my gut,” said Christi Lane Fritz.
Corrie Decker has kids in public schools so education was her priority when she went to vote Tuesday at a senior center in downtown Orlando, dodging raindrops on the way. She wanted to see higher pay for teachers and a pullback from high-stakes testing.
“We need pressure from the government for testing to let up because my kids are very of stressed by all the testing,” said Decker, who lives in Orlando. “It plays too big a role in our lives.”
Decker and her husband were on the fence for a long time on who to vote for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. They don’t have cable television and didn’t see many candidate ads so they made their decision in the past few days by doing a lot of reading in newspapers and online. They picked Gwen Graham.
A Florida Republican was trying to decide between a candidate for governor endorsed by President Donald Trump and the state’s agriculture commissioner as he entered a polling place in Fort Lauderdale.
Don Cook, a 42-year-old who works in software marketing, says he was leaning toward agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam on Tuesday.
Cook says he’s a “relationship guy” who votes for the candidates that give him the “warm and fuzzies.” He described Putnam as having that “guy next door appeal,” holding downhome barbeques while DeSantis made rounds on Fox television.
He says he wonders if Putnam’s strategy will prevail because “the population watches the news.”
An 84-year-old Florida man says he’s “done with Republicans,” adding that he’s for “any Democrat.”
Jim McCauley and his 79-year-old wife Nancy voted for Gwen Graham for governor in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. They cast ballots at the Mainland, a retirement community in Pinellas Park, which is near St. Petersburg.
McCauley says he’s always voted “by the man” and not the party. He didn’t vote for President Donald Trump.
He says he and his wife remember when Graham’s father, Bob Graham, was governor and were “very, very happy with him.” He says they believe his daughter can follow in his footsteps.
Sixty-seven-year-old Sharon Grant drove her golf cart to the same polling place and voted for Republican Ron DeSantis for governor. She originally supported Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam but changed her support when Trump supported DeSantis.
Concerns about climate change and school safety are the main reasons two South Florida voters say they are supporting former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Michael Lefevre is a 29-year-old Democrat who works in the transportation industry. He said after voting Tuesday that Levine has been a “champion” of climate change. Lefevre added that he thinks South Florida should be better represented in the capital, Tallahassee.
Lefevre says he doesn’t think President Donald Trump is much of a factor in Florida’s statewide races. He says it is a senator’s role, not a governor’s, to stand up to the president. Lefevre also voted for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, whose challenger in November is likely to be Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Louis Carvajal is a 44-year-old former teacher who has a son. Carvajal says he voted for Levine because he views protecting schools as the No. 1 issue in the governor’s race. He says he’s not opposed to guns but believes some sort of restrictions should be placed on assault weapons.
(This item has been edited to correct spelling of “Lefevre.”)
Gregory Koger also said he believes Graham will make the strongest candidate in November’s general election. After casting his ballot on Tuesday, the 47-year-old said it was a tough choice because there were “a lot of good candidates” in the Democratic primary.
He said he believes Graham can “help turn out a lot of voters, make people feel enthusiastic and provide a nice contrast in the race.” Graham is the daughter of former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham.
Koger cited Medicaid expansion as another reason he selected Graham because he feels it is “life or death for thousands of Floridians.” He says it’s “ridiculous” that Florida has been rejecting Medicaid expansion “so that the Republican legislators can have a personal talking point.”
The 68-year-old interior designer and architect from Coral Gables says she believes DeSantis is a “true Republican.” After casting her ballot on Tuesday morning, Parke said she believes in Trump’s policies and that DeSantis is also “a very conservative person.”
While Parke said she supports the president, she added that she doesn’t “love the way he opens his mouth too much, sometimes saying things that are not quite appropriate.”
In the Democratic primary, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham is seeking to win the nomination in hopes of following her father, Bob Graham, into the governor’s office.
Florida is also picking its nominees for agriculture commissioner and attorney general. And while Scott has a primary in the U.S. Senate race, it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll cruise to victory in the effort to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
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