Election 2020

Florida Governor's Race Comes Down to Bernie-Backed Progressive, Trump Loyalist Congressman

Andrew Gillum addresses his supporters after winning the Democratic primary for governor on Aug. 28, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

The favorite candidates of the Republican and Democratic establishments both lost their primaries in Florida on Tuesday, setting up a November showdown between a Bernie-backed progressive and a Trump loyalist to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott easily won the GOP Senate primary, setting up his bid to oust Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in what promises to be a costly and nasty race.

But the governor’s race promises to steal even more headlines. On the GOP side, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) defeated by 20 points former Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), who was once the youngest member of Congress.

In a four-war race on the Democratic side, former Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.), daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), suffered a surprise loss at the hands of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Gillum was on a shortlist for Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick, according to one of John Podesta’s stolen emails, but when he decided to run for governor Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) showed up to campaign for him.

“What has made Andrew’s campaign so powerful is that he’s not just working hard to win an election, he has laid out a vision for a new course for the state of Florida and our country,” Sanders said in a statement congratulating Gillum. “No one person can take on the economic and political elites on their own. Tonight, Floridians joined Andrew in standing up and demanding change in their community. That’s what the political revolution is all about and Andrew Gillum is helping to lead it.”

If he wins, Gillum would be Florida’s first African-American governor.

Turnout was strong for Dems — more than 1.4 million votes compared to 837,000 in 2014 — but Republicans still outpaced Democrats with more than 1.6 million ballots cast.

In Arizona, Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) easily defeated Kelli Ward and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio to face Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) for the Senate race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Sinema, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition whose votes have been ranked more conservative than some House Republicans, had been running ads highlighting her centrism; McSally and supporting PACs have quickly launched an effort to brand her far-left.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey got his challenger Tuesday: Arizona State University education professor David Garcia. Both are suspending campaigning this week as services are held for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Ducey is tasked with appointing McCain’s replacement. Some are lobbying for Cindy McCain to fill the seat, which won’t be before voters against until 2020.