Florida’s primary election is Tuesday, and the players are sliding into home plate. It’s time for the last round of roadside sign-waving, get-out-the-vote efforts and — no doubt — last-minute negative ads.
The recent redistricting of the state’s congressional and Senate districts has added to the usual election-year chaos, along with some incumbents who just decided to hang up their gloves.
For our readers’ reference, here are capsule summaries of congressional and state House and Senate races the FloridaPolitics.com team has been following:
CD 1, 2: The 1st Congressional District, home to many active military and vets, is in the “red meat” conservative Panhandle. State Rep. Matt Gaetz and state Sen. Greg Evers have been duking it out among a slew of GOP contenders, including combat veteran James Zumwalt. Steven Specht is the lone, sacrificial lamb Democrat. Over in the 2nd District, urologist Neal Dunn and Mary Thomas, a state government lawyer, have attacked each other’s ties to Charlie Crist, but both have solidly conservative bona fides. Former federal prosecutor Ken Sukhia boasts sterling anti-abortion cred. Attorney Walt Dartland led a campaign to find a Democratic candidate and wound up drafted for the role. He faces Live Oak tree farmer Steve Crapps in the Democratic primary.
CD 4: The 4th Congressional District race started out looking like John Rutherford’s to lose, and as Aug. 30 approaches, it looks the same. Rutherford, the retired Duval County sheriff, is up 11 points over area state Rep. Lake Ray (33-22) in the most recent St. Pete Polls, and Ray’s current support is coming at the expense of political scion Hans Tanzler, who spent the most on this race to get the least traction. Um, surging at the end is St. Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure, who may end up in double digits on election night. Other candidates for the R-leaning area include David Bruderly, Stephen Kaufman, Gary Koniz, Ed Malin, Daniel Murphy, and Deborah Katz Pueschel.
CD 5: This race is a hot soup sandwich. That’s mostly thanks to longtime Jacksonville congresswoman and incumbent Corrine Brown. Now looking for a fourth team of lawyers (after firing the first three), she’s under indictment on federal corruption charges. She’s compared herself to former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who was caught smoking a crack pipe in a 1990 FBI sting, and she has asked reporters, “What if I accused you guys of being pedophiles?” Brown faces a primary challenge from former Tallahassee state lawmaker Al Lawson. Also at play are regional differences in this newly redrawn “Jacksahassee” district, which now stretches from Jax to Tally. Democrat LaShonda “LJ” Holloway and Republican Glo Smith have been relegated to supporting roles as these two political titans have hogged the stage.
CD 9, 10: In the 9th, Democratic state Sen. Darren Soto is leaning on his Hispanic roots against physician Dena Grayson — newly married to Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson — and progressive Susannah Randolph, Alan Grayson’s former congressional aide. Wayne Liebnitzky and Wanda Rentas are fighting for the GOP nod. In the 10th, former Orlando police chief Val Demings, former state Democratic Party chair Bob Poe, state Sen. Geraldine Thompson and newcomer Fatima Rita Fahmy are vying for this newly Democratic-leaning seat. The winner there faces lone Republican Thuy Lowe.
CD 11, 13: Lion-in-winter Daniel Webster, the icon of Florida conservatism, had to run in the 11th Congressional District after his seat was redrawn to lean Democrat. Fellow GOPer Justin Grabelle, who used to be retiring incumbent Congressman Rich Nugent’s chief of staff, is also in the mix. Democrat Dave Koller is unopposed. In the 13th, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is unopposed as the Democratic candidate, but incumbent GOP Congressman David Jolly faces Mark Bircher Tuesday. Jolly had been running for Marco Rubio‘s U.S. Senate seat but decided to run for re-election to his House seat after Rubio’s presidential bid failed.
CD 18, 19: A scrum of 17 candidates is battling over these two seats. In the swing 18th Congressional District, covering the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach, the best known are Republicans Rebecca Negron, a Martin County school board member and wife of state Senate President-designate Joe Negron, and Carl Domino, a former Florida congressman and state legislator. Democratic incumbent Patrick Murphy is running instead for U.S. Senate. Over in Southwest Florida, in the 19th, billionaire businessman Francis Rooney is aiming for the GOP nomination against ex-Secret Service agent Dan Bongino and Sanibel City Councilman Chauncey Goss. Democrat Robert Neeld has no opposition — and virtually no chance of winning this overwhelmingly Republican district.
CD 23: Will renegade Democrat Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor, overthrow veteran congresswoman and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for this South Florida seat? Polls show her comfortably ahead, but Canova continues to hammer her with negative ads, most recently for her ties to Big Sugar. Also, attorney Marty Feigenbaum and Middle East researcher Joe Kaufman (most famous for being lampooned on The Daily Show) face off there in the GOP column. But, as the Sun Sentinel recently put it, “The chances of a GOP candidate defeating a Democrat in this district are slim.”
CD 26: Incumbent Republican Carlos Curbelo is unopposed but could face Democrat Annette Taddeo in November. She was Crist’s running mate in 2014. She first has to defeat Joe Garcia in the primary for this South Florida seat. He’s the former congressman who lost to Curbelo in 2014. The incline is steep: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has endorsed Taddeo over him. Then again, she took a big hit with the release of hacked DCCC emails fretting that she might be perceived as an “incompetent campaigner” and a “wealthy elitist.”
SD 1: Republicans Mike Hill and Doug Broxson have been throwing elbows in their state Senate race. Hill called Broxson a liberal and the latter cried foul. Must make it awkward on Sunday — they reportedly attend the same church. Hill has served in the state House since 2013; Broxson has held an adjoining House seat since 2010. The seat opened when incumbent Greg Evers announced for Congress. Hill, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, is running as a “constitutional conservative.” Broxson has been endorsed by Rick Scott and the NRA. Two write-in candidates — but no Democrats — are running in the general.
SD 11, 12, 13: Mid-state, it’s a battle of Democrats for the 11th Senate District after Alan Hays dropped out to run for Lake County elections supervisor. They are state Rep. Randolph Bracy, former state Sen. Gary Siplin, environmental activist Chuck O’Neal, and former Orange County Commissioner Bob Sindler. In the 12th, two current state representatives, Dennis Baxley and Marlene O’Toole, are angling for the GOP vote, as is radio station owner David Gee. No Democrat qualified to run. Over in the 13th, firefighter-turned-lawyer Mike Clelland is up against former Orange County School Board member Rick Roach and Linda Stewart, a one-term member of the House ousted in 2014 by current GOP state Rep. Mike Miller. Republican Dean Asher is unopposed.
SD 17: How do you spell ugly? “S-D-1-7.” This Florida east coast race has been dominated by the nastiness between GOP competitors Ritch Workman and Debbie Mayfield, both House members. And its, well, peculiarity. Workman had his wife and ex-wife together in a campaign ad. And Mayfield may not live in the district she’s running to represent (she says she lives in Rockledge). But then Workman was accused of sending a taxpayer-funded newsletter to voters outside his House district. Republican Mike Thomas has gotten little traction as his two competitors suck all the media oxygen. Democrat Amy Tidd is unopposed.
SD 19: This Tampa Bay seat is coveted by freshman state Rep. Ed Narain, former state Rep. Betty Reed, current state Rep. Darryl Rouson, and St. Pete trial attorney Augie Ribiero, all Democrats. John “Mr. Manners” Houman is the lone Republican in the field, though he’s a long shot in this D-leaning cross-bay district. Reed, who endorsed Narain to succeed her in 2012, now says she regrets doing so. She says he promised to not run against her; he has said the community “thought I was the better person for the position.” The seat is being vacated by outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner.
SD 23: This Senate seat is sought by a trio of Republicans with House ties: former state Rep. Doug Holder of Venice and current state Reps. Ray Pilon and Greg Steube, both of Sarasota. Other GOP contenders include former Sarasota City and County Commissioner Nora Patterson and businessman Rick Levine. Democrats Frank R. Alcock III, a New College of Florida political science professor, and Frank Anthony Cirillo, a recent University of South Florida grad, also are squaring off. Incumbent Nancy Detert, a Republican, is term-limited.
SD 28: This primary was another one of those that devolved into a You’re-Not-a-Real-Conservative name-calling contest. Republican state Reps. Matt Hudson and Kathleen Passidomo, both of Naples, have been almost at each others’ throats. Or rather, the PACs that support them have. The winner of the Aug. 30 primary will most likely win the general election since the primary victor will face only write-in candidates. This race is to replace outgoing state Sen. Garrett Richter.
SD 30, 31, 34: The race for the 30th mainly pits West Palm Beach attorney Michael Steinger against state Rep. Bobby Powell, a contentious Democratic primary that has seen the two get personal. Steinger’s campaign ran an ad featuring a mugshot of Powell’s father, and Powell fired back by bringing up Steinger’s father, who is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence. The winner of the Aug. 30 primary will face Republican Ron Berman in the general election, though the coastal Palm Beach County district carries a sizable advantage for Democrats. In the 31st, more Democratic animus, this time between state Rep. Irv Slosberg and state Sen. Jeff Clemens. Slosberg jumped into the race just hours before the end of qualifying, challenging Clemens, who has represented the area for years. The 34th, another Democratic safe zone, has former House Democratic Whip Jim Waldman, trial attorney Gary Farmer, and state Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed all in it to win the (D) nomination there.
SD 40: The drama that is Senate District 40 certainly has its stars. Current state Sen. Dwight Bullard, a Democrat, just was ordered to pay $2,000 in fines for filing faulty campaign finance reports. The main qualification of his primary opponent, Andrew Korge, seems to be that he’s the son of a prominent Democratic fundraiser. Ana Rivas Logan, a Republican-turned-Democrat who previously served in the House, qualified to run for the seat but has since dropped out. Waiting for the winner in the general election is the sole Republican, state Rep. Frank Artiles, the ex-Marine who allegedly punched out a college student at a Tallahassee bar last year.
HD 4: A five-person deathmatch will come to a close with the primary vote in the 4th District. In order, Republicans Laurie Bartlett, Wayne Harris, Armand Izzo, Mel Ponder and Jonathan Tallman will fight to succeed outgoing state Rep. Matt Gaetz, who’s running for Congress. This race has been described as a “leadership battleground,” a test of strength between country-club conservative values and the sway of the AltRight. Don’t be shocked that no Democrat qualified and a write-in candidate filed to force a vote in the general election.
HD 5: In the 5th, yet another down-in-the-dirt Republican primary fight. Incumbent Brad Drake is fending off a challenge from former state Rep. Bev Kilmer. She moved back to the Panhandle from Texas in 2014 and now is running in the mostly rural district. That had Drake and others questioning her residency, noting a constitutional provision that candidates must “have resided in the state for a period of two years prior to election.” Kilmer has said her residency status is legit. Still another former House member, Jamey Westbrook, will face the winner in the general. He’s a Democrat-turned-independent who served one term in the 1990s.
HD 11, 14, 19: The 11th, now held by Janet Adkins, finds a four-way fight among Republicans Sheri Treadwell, Donnie Horner, Cord Byrd and Wayne Bunk for the conservative seat that spans eastern Duval County and Nassau County. The 14th has a Democratic field of controversial pastor Kim Daniels, as well as Leslie Jean-Bart, Terry Fields, Don Gaffney and Gracie Bell McCastler, with the victor facing the GOP’s Christian Whitfield in November. In the 19th, former Republican Party of Florida Chair Leslie Dougher is up against Katherine Van Zant, wife of current incumbent Charles Van Zant, and utility worker Bobby Payne. That winner faces a Democrat and two write-ins.
HD 21: Chuck Clemons, a Santa Fe College administrator and past Alachua County commissioner, is running against Republican businesswoman Wenda Lewis and pharmacist Tim Rogers in the primary race for this district. It’s currently held by Republican Rep. Keith Perry, who is running for the District 8 seat in the Florida Senate. The winner faces Democrat Marihelen Wheeler and two write-ins. Despite being home to 9,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, it should remain safely in GOP hands because of low turnout among the district’s college students.
HD 43, 45: The District 43 race featured an ad highlighting Democratic incumbent John Cortes’ 1999 arrest for domestic violence. He faces former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel, whom he beat in the 2014 primary, and Kissimmee city commissioner Sarah Shaw, who was clocked doing 105 miles per hour in a city vehicle in 2014. A vacancy in majority-minority House District 45 drew five Democrats: Kamia Brown, a former aide to state Rep. Vic Torres; pastor Kelvin Cobaris; trial attorney Gregory Jackson; investor Peter Pham; and real estate salesman William Jusme.
HD 46, 47: District 46 incumbent Bruce Antone is seeking his third term against a challenge by fellow Democrat Sheena Meade, who derides him as practicing the “same old politics.” Treminasha Holmes is a write-in candidate. In the 47th, Republican incumbent Mike Miller of Winter Park drew no primary opposition. But three Democrats are competing to take on Miller in the general election: immigration attorney Henry Lim, who was arrested in 2015 for carrying a gun into a federal building (an “oversight,” he said); TV producer Beth Tuura; and attorney Clinton Curtis, all from Orlando.
HD 52: A vacant seat in safely Republican House District 52 — Ritch Workman was term-limited out — has drawn four candidates to the GOP primary. They are Melbourne businessman Brian Hodgers; Robert “Fritz” VanVolkenburgh, an auditor in the Brevard County clerk of court’s office; Monique Miller, a business manager in the computer industry; and Thad Altman, a state senator who’s being termed out. Altman originally filed in District 51. There’s a write-in candidate — Edward Bollinger.
HD 54: Incumbent Republican Debbie Mayfield is termed out in this upper Treasure Coast seat. The GOP candidates (no Democrats are running) are Baptist minister Dale Glading, personal injury attorney Erin Grall, gastroenterologist Greg MacKay, and businessman Lange Sykes.
HD 60: You want conservative? Republican candidate Jackie Toledo says if elected, she’d work to repeal two immigration laws passed by the Republican majority. Both bills passed in 2014, as Gov. Rick Scott was battling for the Hispanic vote as he faced a tough re-election campaign against Charlie Crist. Toledo, a former Tampa City Council candidate, is battling businesswoman Rebecca Smith, who’s backed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and CFO Jeff Atwater. Democrat David Singer waits for one of them in the general, to replace House Republican Leader Dana Young. She’s running for the state Senate.
HD 61: Rep. Ed Narain‘s candidacy for a state Senate seat leaves this district open again. In the mix is attorney and Democrat Sean Shaw, who lost to Narain in 2014. He had accused Narain of being too Republican-friendly, while Narain and his supporters called Shaw a carpetbagger, emphasizing his lack of roots in the district. (He grew up in Tallahassee while his father, Justice Leander Shaw Jr., served on the Florida Supreme Court.) Narain ultimately took the seat 41 percent-35 percent. Shaw also is allied with Democratic former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. He served as the state’s insurance consumer advocate, which reports to the CFO. Shaw is being challenged by Dianne Hart and Walter Smith II in this safely Democratic Tampa district.
HD 68, 70: When incumbent Democrat Dwight Dudley decided to forgo re-election for a run at local judgeship, the jockeying began to replace him. Ben Diamond, a St. Pete attorney, jumped in. Then Eric Lynn, a former Obama campaign staffer and Department of Defense official, dropped out of the race to succeed GOP Congressman David Jolly. The House district has parts of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Lealman and Feather Sound, and can be expected to swing Democrat. The winner faces Republican JB Benshimen in November. Over in the 70th, St. Petersburg City Councilman Wengay Newton is running against fellow Democrats Dan Fiorini and Christopher John “CJ” Czaia for the seat now held by Democrat Darryl Rouson. He’s looking at a Senate spot. Republican Cori Fournier awaits one of them in the general election.
HD 91, 95, 106, 108, 118: Democrat Emily Slosberg, daughter of state Rep. Irv Slosberg, is up against Kelly Skidmore in the 91st. In the 95th, a quintet of D’s — Patrick Jabouin Sr., Robert Lynch, Anika Omphroy, Barrington Anthony Russell and Roxanne Valies — is vying to succeed Hazel Rogers. The 106th finds Republicans Bob Rommel, Lavigne Ann Kirkpatrick and Nick Ballo out to take over from Kathleen Passidomo. In the 108th, another slew of seven Dem’s, including Miami Herald “20 Under 40” awardee and immigrant advocate Francesca Menes, are competing for the spot now held by Daphne Campbell. And in the 118th, David Rivera — former congressman, one-time housemate of Marco Rubio, and selected by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for the 2012 Class of “Most Corrupt Members of Congress” — is running against four other Republicans to replace Frank Artiles, now running for state Senate.
Correspondents A.G. Gancarski, Michael Moline, Mitch Perry, Jim Rosica and Drew Wilson contributed to this report.