- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on Florida’s primary (all times local):


State Rep. Matt Gaetz is poised to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller after easily defeating several other Republicans.

Gaetz, an attorney and son of a former state Senate president, took nearly 36 percent of the vote in the GOP primary for the district that covers much of the Florida Panhandle.

Gaetz will go up against Steven Specht, an Air Force veteran, in the November general election. But the district is home to five military installations and a large population of veterans and has gone Republican since 1994.

During his campaign for Congress, Gaetz maintained he was the most conservative. He came out in favor of Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley’s comments that the Black Lives Matter group is “a terrorist organization.”


11 p.m.

A Panama City physician edged out two other Republicans in a primary that could decide who replaces outgoing U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham.

Neil Dunn captured more than 41 percent of the vote in the primary and defeated Mary Thomas, an attorney who worked in the administration of Gov. Rick Scott and former federal prosecutor Ken Sukhia. Thomas was trying to become the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress.

Dunn is the favorite to win the November election because the district now leans Republican. Graham, a Democrat, opted not to run for re-election after the 2nd Congressional District was redrawn by the Florida Supreme Court.

Dunn will run against one of two Democrats. The race between former Florida assistant attorney general Walt Dartland and Steve Crapps, a former supervisor at the Department of Children and Family Services, was too close to call.


10:25 p.m.

Florida-based construction magnate Francis Rooney, who spent $3.1 million of his own money campaigning for a U.S. House seat, has won the Republican nomination from his district in southwest Florida.

The former Vatican ambassador ran in the Tuesday primary election against Chauncey Goss, a city councilman and the son of former CIA Director Porter Goss, and a former Secret Service agent, author and TV commentator

Rooney will be the heavy favorite to defeat Democrat Robert Neeld in November - Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly 2-to-1 in the 19 th district.

The district covers Naples, Fort Myers and surrounding communities, which rely heavily on tourism, construction and retirees. The area is also facing a serious crisis as its waterways have become infested with toxic algae, which all three Democrats say is the race’s top local issue.

The candidates are vying to replace Republican Rep. Curt Clawson, who unexpectedly announced in May he would not seek re-election for family reasons


10:25 p.m.

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia has narrowly won the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Republican Carlos Curbelo in a South Florida House district.

Garcia defeated Annette Taddeo in Tuesday’s primary with about 51 percent of the vote. That sets up a rematch with Curbelo, a former Miami-Dade County school board member who defeated Garcia in another close race in 2014.

The newly-drawn district, however, includes 9,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans. It covers Miami’s western and southern suburbs, the Florida Keys and a large chunk of the Everglades.

The race is key nationally to help give Democrats a shot at retaking the House, where they needto pick up 30 seats.

Garcia drew criticism from Taddeo over a 2010 scandal in which a former Garcia campaign aide illegally financed a ringer tea party candidate in an attempt to siphon votes from a rival, David Rivera. Despite the ringer, Rivera won the House seat in 2010. But Garcia beat him in 2012 as Rivera’s campaign got caught financing a ringer Democratic candidate to attack Garcia in that primary.


10:12 p.m.

State Sen. Darren Soto has won the Democratic primary to succeed U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in House District 9.

The Associated Press called the race Tuesday for Soto over three challengers, including Grayson’s wife Dr. Dena Grayson and his former district director, Susannah Randolph. The seat became open with Grayson opted to run for the U.S. Senate, but he lost in the primary to U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

On the Republican side, businessman Wayne Liebnitzky defeated Kissimmee Vice Mayor Wanda Rentas. Leibnitzky will face Soto in the November general election.


9:20 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown has lost her battle to remain in office amid a criminal indictment and a revamped district that includes thousands of new voters.

The Jacksonville politician was defeated in the Democratic primary by former State Sen. Al Lawson from Tallahassee.

The 69-year-old Brown was one of the first blacks elected to Congress from Florida since reconstruction. Her motto “Corrine Delivers” was a testament of her ability during her two decades in office to bring federal dollars back to her district.

But in early July, Brown and her chief of staff pleaded not guilty to multiple fraud charges that alleged she participated in a scheme to use a phony charity as a personal slush fund. Brown’s district was also reshaped as part of court battle over congressional districts.

Lawson will face Republican Glo Smith in November.


9:15 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has turned back a strong primary challenge and will likely be re-elected to a seventh term in Congress.

The Associated Press declared that Wasserman Schultz won her Florida Democratic primary Tuesday against law professor Tim Canova, a Bernie Sanders-backed challenger, with more than 57 percent of the vote.

It was the first time Wasserman Schultz had faced a primary opponent in her heavily Democratic suburban Fort Lauderdale district. Canova had raised about $3.3 million, an extraordinary amount for a primary challenger with no political experience. She raised $3 million but got backing from a political action committee.

Wasserman Schultz was dragged down by her recent forced resignation as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee after leaked emails. Sanders supporters say they showed that Wasserman Schultz had given preferential treatment to Hillary Clinton in the primaries


10 p.m.

Orlando’s first woman police chief has won the Democratic primary for Florida’s 10th congressional district.

The Associated Press on Tuesday declared Val Demings, a favorite of Washington Democratic power brokers, as the party’s nominee. Demings narrowly lost to GOP Rep. Daniel Webster in 2012 when the district leaned Republican. Webster, a Christian conservative, is running in a neighboring district.

The newly-drawn 10th district now favors Democrats after redistricting, covering western parts of the Orlando metro area.

Demings, who defeated three other candidates, in November will face Republican Thuy Lowe, a Vietnamese-American who ran unopposed in the primary.


9:00 p.m.

Florida voters have approved an amendment to the state constitution calling for tax breaks aimed at helping both commercial and residential property owners install solar or renewable energy systems more affordably.

The measure approved Tuesday expands property tax exemptions covering only residential property to cover renewable energy equipment on commercial property, so that if adding solar increases a property’s value, the owner won’t be taxed extra for that.

The amendment also removes Florida’s “tangible personal property tax,” which taxes solar equipment installed on properties. Without it, leasing solar systems will be a more profitable business in Florida.

Despite abundant sunshine, Florida lags nationally in solar power production. Solar arrays are getting cheaper but are still costly, so providing more access to leasing for all property owners will increase the sun power generated in the state.


8:50 p.m.

Former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford won the GOP primary to replace retiring Congressman Ander Crenshaw in the House, essentially assuring he will represent the northeast Florida district that’s firmly Republican.

Rutherford campaigned on his 12 years as sheriff and 41 years in law enforcement, saying it makes him prepared to handle national security issues. He points to working with the Department of Homeland Security on investigations and security planning. He also started a program in which his department could begin deportation proceedings against immigrants in the country illegally if they’ve committed crimes.

He also represented the Florida Sheriff’s Association before the Legislature, which he said taught him how to compromise with Democrats and Republicans.

His two top challengers were state Rep. Lake Ray and lawyer Hans Tanzler, the son of a former Jacksonville mayor.

The 4th Congressional District represents parts of Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties.


8:40 p.m.

The Florida prosecutor who brought charges against George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin has been defeated for re-election.

Nearly complete election results Tuesday showed that Angela Corey lost by a large margin to challenger Melissa Nelson, herself a former prosecutor. Corey’s Jacksonville-based office unsuccessfully prosecuted Zimmerman on murder charges for the 2012 shooting of Martin in a case that triggered national debate on race and violence.

Corey’s office also prosecuted Michael Dunn, who is white, for the 2012 fatal shooting of black 17-year-old Jordan Davis in what became known as the “loud music” case. Dunn was convicted and his serving a life sentence.

In another high-profile case, Corey’s office prosecuted Marissa Alexander after she fired a warning shot during a confrontation with her husband, resulting in a 20-year prison sentence that was later overturned.


8:10 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has won the Democratic nomination to face Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Murphy defeated fiery liberal Rep. Alan Grayson on Tuesday, aided by the backing of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Murphy appeared confident in the final weeks of the election, virtually ignoring Grayson and focusing instead on Rubio.

Murphy was first elected to the House in 2012, defeating incumbent tea party conservative Allen West.

While Grayson has more consistently voted for Democratic priorities and Obama’s agenda, many party leaders thought he was unelectable because of his brash demeanor.

Murphy has criticized Rubio as caring more about his political ambitions then his constituents, while Republicans have criticized Murphy for embellishing his resume and lack of experience.


8 p.m.

Sen. Marco Rubio has earned the support of Florida’s Republican voters to seek a second term, a decision he made at the last minute after his failed presidential bid.

Rubio beat millionaire developer Carlos Beruff, the only major GOP candidate to stay in the race after Rubio decided to run for re-election two days before the deadline to make the ballot. He had said for months he wouldn’t run again no matter what happened in the presidential race.

Rubio will now face the winner of the Democratic primary, either U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy or U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Republican leaders encouraged Rubio to change his mind, seeing him as the best hope to keep his seat in GOP hands as Democrats sought to regain a majority in the Senate.


7:30 p.m.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy took big early leads in Florida’s Senate primaries.

Rubio led millionaire homebuilder Carlos Beruff with nearly 70 percent of the vote Tuesday and Murphy led U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson with 63 percent of the vote shortly after polls closed in the Florida peninsula. Polls remained open another hour in the Florida Panhandle.

Rubio decided at the last minute to run for re-election after his failed presidential campaign. Murphy has the backing of President Barack Obama and other Democratic Party leaders. The race is watched nationally as Republicans try to hold onto a majority in the Senate.


5:35 p.m.

A polling place in Sanford was shut down briefly after police ordered a lockdown due to a shooting unrelated to Florida’s primary election.

Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel said no one was allowed in or out of the polling place for about 15 minutes. Sanford Police Department spokeswoman Bianca Gillett says police discovered two victims with gunshot wounds. Gillett said both victims were taken to a nearby hospital and were in stable condition.

Ertel said that no voters were turned away while the polling place was closed.

The shooting incident was not related to the election. Ertel said the polling place was shut down because it was within a one-mile radius of where police responded. Two nearby schools were also closed briefly as well.


1:20 p.m.

Voters trickled to polling places across Florida, some dodging rain, in a primary election that only had a few races on the ballot.

On Tuesday morning in Pinellas Park, 66-year-old Diane Martin-Johnson said she voted for Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio is seeking to secure a second term after initially declaring during his failed presidential campaign that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Martin-Johnson says that while it’s “unfortunate he didn’t do his job fully in Washington this term,” she thinks Rubio deserves a second change.

Another voter, 69-year-old Tim Kaczynski of Pinellas Park, says he voted for Rubio because he knows nothing about his opponent, millionaire homebuilder Carlos Beruff.

Despite spending $8 million of his own money, Beruf was going nowhere in the polls against Rubio and essentially shut down his campaign ahead of the primary.


10:05 a.m.

Florida’s top election official says the primary election is running smoothly.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Tuesday that there had been only a handful of minor problems since voting began early Tuesday.

He says polling places in Flagler County and Lee County didn’t open right on time. Detzner says the fire department located across the street from the Flagler precinct helped open the polling place after a poll worker was unable to open the site.

Detzner also noted that a polling place in Miami Beach had been shifted from the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens to City Hall because authorities are inspecting and spraying for mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.

He says it’s too premature to predict whether turnout this year will exceed the 2012 and 2014 primary election.

8:40 a.m.

More than 1.75 million Floridians have already voted in this year’s primary.

The Florida Division of Elections on Tuesday released updated figures showing that more than 1.2 million voters have returned their ballots by mail. More than 538,000 voted during the early voting period that ended on Sunday.

The total of those who voted by mail is likely to go up since ballots returned today can still be accepted.

Florida appears poised to have a larger turnout than it did during the 2012 primary when 2.34 million voted. This year there are more competitive races for both Congress and the Florida Legislature. Voters are also deciding the Democratic and Republican nominees for U.S. Senate.


4:02 a.m.

After a failed presidential run, Sen. Marco Rubio is seeking to secure the Republican nomination for a second term and Democrats are deciding who should face him.

Tuesday’s primary will also set the stage for several U.S. House races in a year that Democrats are hoping to gain seats in the heavily Republican delegation.

Rubio made a last-minute decision to seek another term and nearly cleared what was a crowded Republican field. But millionaire homebuilder Carlos Beruff stayed in with hopes of toppling Rubio.

Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson are battling for the right to face Rubio in November.

South Florida voters were 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.

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