MIAMI (CN) — Democratic U.S. Representative Charlie Crist will face Republican incumbent Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida’s gubernatorial contest after a strong showing in the state’s primaries on Tuesday.
Before polls officially closed in the state’s beggar at 8 p.m., The Associated Press called an election for Crist and Demings.
According to unofficial figures published by the Florida Electoral Division, Crist beat Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried by 25 points. Crist has over 820,000 votes to Fried’s 483,430.
In the other closely watched race, Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings rode to victory over her three opponents to take on Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio in November. Demings, who garnered 85% of the vote, won with a landslide victory of 1.1 million votes over his opponents, who garnered just under 200,000 votes.
DeSantis and Rubio, who face no Republican opponents, will go to the general election in November. But for Democrats, Tuesday’s primary was a chance to throw a liberal wrench into a possible 2024 presidential race for DeSantis and fight for a crucial Rubio Senate seat that could allow Biden to cement a legacy in the second half. of his mandate.
Fried delivered his concession speech minutes after the unofficial state results.
“We fought very hard for this campaign,” she said. “We gave hope and we gave inspiration.”
Fried is expected to support Crist, telling his supporters to make DeSantis a one-term governor.
A few minutes later, Crist delivered his acceptance speech.
“The truth is, this governor doesn’t care about freedom,” Crist said. “He’s a bully and he’s dangerous.”
For most of the summer, polls favored Crist — a former Republican governor, who went independent before eventually becoming a Democrat — over Fried, the only elected statewide Democrat that the State has seen for a decade. Since announcing his candidacy in May 2021, the congressional representative has quickly garnered dozens of endorsements from elected officials statewide and nationally, as well as support from the largest labor unions in the state.
Crist also raised more money than Fried, raising nearly $8 million in contributions compared to his $3.6 million, according to the Florida Department of State. campaign finance database.
Crist and Fried share similar visions for the state: more affordable housing, better environmental protections, lower home insurance premiums and the preservation of abortion rights. However, the latter has become a lightning rod since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade in June.
When he was a Republican, Crist expressed pro-life views, while Fried has “been pro-choice all my life,” as she said during the race’s only debate this summer. The prosecution prompted Crist to spend thousands of dollars on last-minute TV ads to defend his current pro-choice stance. The Florida Planned Parenthood PAC has not endorsed a gubernatorial candidate.
In the end, the two candidates campaigned on who could best eliminate DeSantis, with Crist touting his experience and national connections while Fried offered voters a new voice and the chance to elect the first female governor of the State.
“What’s wrong with Ron?” Everything is wrong with Ron,” Crist said at a campaign event on Monday. “You deserve better. That’s why this campaign is going to be successful.
DeSantis made headlines this summer for his support of anti-abortion policies and his attacks on so-called “woke” policies in education by restricting discussions of race and gender. Even after the Florida legislature adjourned in May, he continued to travel the state holding press conferences that border campaign events, dodging pointed attacks on his gubernatorial challengers by name and pleading against Biden’s domestic policies.
DeSantis quietly filed paperwork last November for re-election and has largely avoided any discussion of his campaign or buzz about a possible 2024 presidential bid, while amassing a whopping war chest of more than $155 million from his own contributions to the campaign and a CAP who has collection since 2019.
He hopped on the primary election news cycle on Monday, release an advertisement titled “Top Gov”, inspired by the popular Tom Cruise action film, featuring the Governor in a flight jacket while walking around an air base.
“Hello ladies and gentlemen, this is your governor speaking,” DeSantis says in the ad. “The Evolution of Today’s Training: Dogfights, Confronting the Corporate Media.”
Nationally, the almost certain Senate race between Demings and Rubio in the fall is one of the most watched races in the country that could tip the scales of the equally divided Senate.
Demings, first elected to Congress in 2017, is a 27-year veteran of the Orlando Police Department who became police chief of one of the state’s largest forces. She was among the top contenders to become Biden’s vice president in 2020 and served as House leader in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.
His candidacy against Rubio garnered donations from across the country, breeding over $47 million.
Rubio, a senator elected to two terms for the first time in 2010, has more than $36 million in Fund raising.
On Tuesday night, Rubio held a joint press conference with DeSantis.
“The Democratic Party has been taken over by the radical left, laptop liberals and Marxist misfits,” he said.
Demings had three main challengers: William Sanchez, a lawyer with a Justice Department background specializing in poverty issues; Second-generation immigrant businessman and political newcomer Ricardo De La Fuente; and attorney Brian Rush, a former centrist state representative and youth soccer coach.
However, Demings’ fundraising and polls have far outpaced those of his Democratic opponents.
Florida is a closed primary state, which means that only voters who are registered members of a political party can vote for their respective party’s candidates in a primary election.
The states electoral list 5,194,845 Republicans and 4,963,930 voters who identify as Democrats.
According to the most recent data from the Florida Division of Elections, more than 1.32 million Floridians voted in Tuesday’s primary.
Despite the lack of GOP challengers in DeSantis and Rubio, Republicans still went to the polls on Tuesday for a series of congressional races, including a handful in South Florida.
One of those voters, Jose Amores, showed up in a Miami-Dade County neighborhood at the Westchester Regional Library to cast a straight Republican ticket.
“I only vote for Republican candidates,” said Amores, a Cuban-American. “I don’t want what we have anymore. I want people who want to move forward and improve our country.
He added that DeSantis is “doing a great job.”
A few miles west, at Kendale Lakes Branch Library, Lorela Escobar expressed similar sentiments.
“I vote for all Republican candidates,” said Escobar, originally from Colombia. “I support Trump and DeSantis. They support the truth and they have exposed many corrupt Democrats.
“Democrats lied to us left and right with COVID-19 vaccines,” she added.
Caridad Figueroa Perdomo, a Republican who voted at the West Kendall Regional Library, said she has consistently supported Republican candidates since leaving Cuba.
“I’m tired of Democrat politics,” she said. “They are all liars and they are bringing our beautiful country down.”
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day’s best stories straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.