Florida Primary Election Results: DeSantis, Gillum Win
Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum were declared winners of their respective gubernatorial primaries.
As polls closed in Florida on Tuesday, Ron DeSantis was declared the winner of the Republican gubernatorial primary. Meanwhile, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum staged an upset victory over former congresswoman Gwen Graham on the Democrat side. With his win, Gillum will try to become Florida's first black governor and the first Democrat to hold that office in two decades.
Endorsed by President Trump, the GOP congressman cruised to an early victory with 56.4 percent of the vote. DeSantis' closest opponent was Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnan, who had the endorsement of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Putnam had 36.6 percent of the vote, according to the Florida Department of State.
"This is a good victory anyways, but man to beat someone of his caliber is a big, big deal," DeSantis told supporters after being declared the winner. "Let's just thank him for his service to Florida."
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.
A former Navy lawyer, DeSantis 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.
"This thing is not about me. It never has been, and it never will be," declared Gillum after being declared the winner. "This race is about every last single one of us — those of us in this room, those of us outside of this room, those of us who voted for me, those who did not vote at all, those who couldn't vote for me because they may be Republicans. But you want to know something? I want to be their governor too."
Graham jumped out to an early lead over Gillum but then the mayor came back to take 34.2 percent of the vote compared to 31.4 percent for Graham. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine had 20.3 percent. Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene had 10.1 percent as Greene's entry into the race appeared to have siphoned away some of Levine's support.
Both Greene and Levine are wealthy businessmen, but Levine had the added advantage of government experience, something that Greene attempted to downplay in interviews.
At times, their campaign commercials struck a negative chord with voters.
Greene told Miami's ABC affiliate that Levine's ads did an "enormous amount of damage" to his chances.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott cruised to an easy victory in his bid to take on U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in what is expected to be an expensive showdown in November. The race may also help shape the balance of the upper chamber as Democrats try to regain control.
Scott defeated California businessman Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, who earned attention this year by mounting U.S. Senate bids in multiple states at the same time but did not campaign against Scott at all.
The Florida governor appears to have a slight edge in his Senate bid in a head-to-head matchup against the South Florida Democrat, according to RealClearPolitics polling averages. Nelson ran unopposed in the primary. The seat is considered an election toss-up in the general election.
Gillum received the endorsement of former Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders but ran his campaign on a shoestring budget.
Graham is the daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham and got a boost last week from Florida favorite Jimmy Buffett with a free concert on her behalf.
In addition to the gubernatorial contest, Florida voters also voted for a new state attorney general and commissioner of agriculture. Republican Ashley Moody won with 56.8 percent of the vote compared to 43.2 percent for Frank White in the race for Florida's top law enforcement position. State Representative Sean Shaw of Tampa was declared the Democrat winner with 73.6 percent of the vote compared to 26.4 percent for Ryan Torrens. A Leon County judge ruled on Friday that Torrens flouted state campaign finance laws to qualify and threw him off the ballot. But a state appeals court issued a stay on that ruling on Monday, allowing the race to proceed.
Winning the Republican nomination for commissioner of agriculture, Matt Caldwell garnered 34.5 percent of the vote followed by Denise Grimsley with 26.6 percent, Baxter Troutman with 26.1 percent and Mike McCalister with 12.7 percent. South Florida attorney Nicole "Nikki" Fried, who has ties to the state's medical marijuana industry, bested fellow Democrats with 58.5 percent of the vote compared to Roy David Walker with 25.5 percent and Jeffrey Duane Porter with 15.9 percent.
In the GOP governor's race, President Trump delivered his formal endorsement to DeSantis at a Tampa rally earlier this summer and tweeted out words of support again on Monday.
"Strong on crime, borders and wants low taxes. He will be a great governor and has my full and total endorsement," the president tweeted.
In his endorsement of Gillum, Sanders said: "Andrew has never backed down from a fight, including beating the NRA and standing up against xenophobic politicians."
Graham, who had been the frontrunner heading into Tuesday's vote, said she called to congratulate Gillum. Putnan also called the victorious DeSantis and urged his supporters to get behind the congressman. "He is a veteran. He is a solid conservative and he will need our help in November," Putnan said.
In Miami Beach, 17-year-old Maria Hernandez proudly displayed an "I voted" sticker but it was only a dry run as she tagged along with her mother, Brenda. The teen will not be eligible to vote for real until her 18th birthday on Jan. 16.
"It seems like it's really important to vote," she told Patch with a big smile. "I can't wait to vote next year."
Here are the unofficial vote totals in the Democrat gubernatorial primary as of early Wednesday morning, according to the Florida Department of State:
- Andrew Gillum: 515,235
- Gwen Graham: 471,439
- Jeff Greene: 151,655
- Chris King: 37,369
- Philip Levine: 305,837
- Alex "Lundy" Lundmark: 8,611
- John Wetherbee: 14,331
Here are the unofficial vote totals in the Republican gubernatorial primary as of early Wednesday morning, according to the Florida Department of State:
- Don Baldauf: 13,114
- Ron DeSantis: 912,403
- Timothy M. Devine: 21,303
- Bob Langford: 19,748
- John Joseph Mercadante: 11,576
- Bruce Nathan: 14,454
- Adam H. Putnam: 589,969
- Bob White: 32,532
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