TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — When Democrats in the state cast their ballots in Tuesday’s primary, one of the decisions they’ll make is who they want to see try to unseat Senator Marco Rubio.
Rubio made a last-minute decision to seek another term and nearly cleared what was a crowded Republican field. But millionaire homebuilder Carlos Beruff rolled the dice to see if he could tap into the anti-establishment mood that led to the GOP backing Donald Trump for president. After spending $8 million of his own money and going nowhere in the polls in a head-to-head matchup with Rubio, Beruff essentially shut down his campaign ahead of the primary.
Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson battled for the right to face Rubio in November with two dramatically different campaigns. Murphy, a former Republican, raised significantly more money and earned the backing of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Grayson, a fiery liberal known for brash comments, relied mostly on small donors and feuded with party leaders.
South Florida voters are also choosing whether to keep former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Congress or to replace her with Tim Canova, a Bernie Sanders-backed law professor in a primary that seemed more about revenge for Sanders backers over the perception that the DNC worked against him in favor of Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary.
Florida has been forced to rip up its congressional maps and redraw them after a judge found they violated a provision in Florida’s constitution that requires compact districts that don’t favor incumbents or political parties. That spurred one of the state’s most heavily contested congressional election years. Several races will essentially be decided in the primary and Florida will eventually send at least seven new House members to Washington.
Republicans now outnumber Democrats 17-10 in the state’s congressional delegation. If November goes as well as Democrats can hope, that Republican advantage could be reduced to 14-13 — though Democrats would have to sweep each of the four seats expected to be competitive in the general election.
Even before polls opened, more than 1.7 million people had cast ballots by mail or at early voting sites. Another nearly 1.2 million vote-by-mail ballots were distributed and not returned as of Monday morning.
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