The 2018 Florida primary results feature one big upset and a lot of primary voters.
Florida Democrats made some noise, while Republicans also picked their candidates to gear up for the Fall elections. The establishments, Trump wing, and Bernie Sanders wing of the respective political parties got a little something out of the final results.
2018 Florida Primary Results: Florida Governor
2018 Florida Primary Results: Republican Primary
The not-so-unusual news was the victory of Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Republican primary for Florida’s governor. Perhaps it was the size of the victory that comes as something of a shock. When the dust settled, DeSantis claimed a 20-point win over his only other major challenger, Adam Putnam. The latter is a former congressman and the state’s agriculture commissioner.
Once Donald Trump announced his support for DeSantis, however, the race turned heavily in his favor. DeSantis claimed victory in many of the state’s most populous counties. He swept South Florida’s big three counties with over 65 percent of the vote in each. Orlando’s Orange County, Fort Myers’s Lee County, and Jacksonville’s Duval County were big wins. Putnam could at least claim Hillsborough County, home to Tampa. The 6th Congressional District represented by DeSantis includes Palm Coast and Daytona Beach — the congressman won big in his home district.
2018 Florida Primary Results: Democratic Primary
That Republican race was not the most momentous of the night, even though it seemed on Election Day like it could be. The Democrats managed that feat by engineering the upset of Andrew Gillum over a crowded field. Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, got past former representative Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine, and others to take the Democratic nomination.
Gillum’s average position in the RealClear Politics polling average was fourth place, and a further look reveals that only a small number of surveys picked up on his surge.
Graham led in most pre-election polls and was assumed to be the nominee-in-waiting. Her loss no doubt comes as a big surprise to Democrats counting on her to help deliver the governorship to their party for the first time since the late 1990s. Now, this is Gillum’s task against a candidate who will have the full support of Donald Trump, in a state the latter carried in 2016. The good news for Democrats is that their primary turnout set a record with about 1.5 million voters. About 1.6 million ballots were cast in the Republican primary.
Gwen Graham won plenty of counties in this run, but Gillum got the numbers where it mattered. Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties all went to Gillum, as did Duval, Orange, and Hillsborough. Graham was crushed in Miami-Dade, coming in a distant third behind Gillum and native son Levine. Broward County was not much better for her, and that handful of counties cost her the election.
2018 Florida Primary Results: Florida Governor Maps
DeSantis won the Republican primary in a landslide over Putnam.
Gillum trailed for much of Election Night, but pulled ahead for a stunning upset victory.
2018 Florida Primary Results: Florida Governor Vote Totals
2018 Florida Primary Results: US Senate
Sen. Bill Nelson (D) had no opposition in his run for re-election, at least as far as his Democratic primary. His Republican opponent-in-waiting, Gov. Rick Scott (R), had only the token opposition of Rocky De La Fuente. A man who has run for Senate in a number of states this year, De La Fuente has yet to win a primary. He snatched just 11 percent of the vote against Florida’s outgoing governor.
The Florida Senate race is an intriguing opportunity for Republicans. Democrats hope that a “blue wave” will carry them into power in both houses of Congress. Their problem with the Senate is that they are defending many more seats than the Republicans. Florida is one of those states, and in Scott, the GOP drew the best candidate possible.
Nelson was re-elected to his third term in the Senate in 2012 with 55 percent of the vote. Scott’s two elections to the governorship were razor close: in 2010, his margin was 1.2 percent, and in 2014, one percent. You’d still be incorrect if you don’t think Scott can give Nelson a race. As of August 29, however, our prediction favors Nelson.
2018 Florida Primary Results: US House
Sitting Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) was renominated in the 1st District with 65 percent of the vote. He will face Democrat Jennifer Zimmerman in the Fall. This is a heavily Republican district, and a November flip would be a shock.
5th District Rep. Al Lawson (D) got through to the general election with 60 percent of the vote in his primary. His opponent was Alvin Brown, former Jacksonville mayor, who drew 40 percent. He should cruise to re-election against Republican Virginia Fuller.
Ron DeSantis’s open 6th District will be contested in November by veteran Mike Waltz, GOP primary winner. In the general election, he faces Nancy Soderburg, a former diplomat.
Rep. Darren Soto (D) fended off a challenge from firebrand former congressman Alan Grayson in Florida’s 9th District. It wasn’t close, either, as Soto nearly doubled up Grayson in the final vote count. Soto will be the favorite in this Orlando-centric district over Wayne Liebnitzky (R).
The 27th District of Florida looks like one of the hottest House races in the state in 2018. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, also formerly the president of the University of Miami, narrowly won the Democratic primary. Her opponent is Maria Elvira Salazar (R), a journalist and Spanish-language television news anchor. This is the seat being vacated by longtime representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R). Being a Cook PVI D+5, and one carried by Hillary Clinton by 20 points, one would assume the Democrats will win here, but the ones on television tend to get name recognition. It may not be the slam dunk Democrats expected.
2018 Florida Primary Results: Other Notable Results
Among Florida State Senate primary results, the only incumbent going down to defeat was Daphne Campbell. She represents the 38th District, including the City of Miami, Miami Beach, and Sunny Isles Beach. Jason Pizzo defeated Campbell in the Democratic primary. Senator Campbell faced criticism from both inside and outside her party, but even if she had won the nomination, Republicans would have had no shot — they’re not running a candidate.
Only one other state legislative incumbent fell on primary night. Roy Hardemon, state representative for the 108th District, lost in the Democratic primary to Dotie Joseph. Hardemon barely won his primary in 2016, in the seat he has represented since Daphne Campbell left it that year. He will be a one-term representative, and Joseph will be elected in this seat centered on northern Miami and Biscayne Park.