2018 Florida Primary Election Recap

Last night, Florida held its Primary Elections. The results are currently considered UNOFFICIAL due to not being certified yet. One United States Senate seat, all Congressional seats, the Florida Cabinet, half of the State Senate, and all State House seats are up for election this year. Several incumbents won re-election automatically as they faced no […]

Last night, Florida held its Primary Elections. The results are currently considered UNOFFICIAL due to not being certified yet.

One United States Senate seat, all Congressional seats, the Florida Cabinet, half of the State Senate, and all State House seats are up for election this year.

Several incumbents won re-election automatically as they faced no opposition in the primary or general. In the U.S. Senate Race, Gov. Rick Scott easily won his primary election and will face off against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson in November. In the Congressional primaries, due to retirement of Congressional members Ros-Lehtinen, Ross, and Rooney, as well as Congressman Desantis — who is in pursuit of being Florida’s next governor only — four of the 27 races were open elections.

Due to state-imposed term limits, all positions on the Florida cabinet are open in 2018 with one limited exception; CFO Jimmy Patronis, who was appointed to the position a year ago, is now seeking to maintain his position in his first statewide race.  In the Florida Senate, only five of that body’s 40 seats races were “open,” meaning no incumbent is defending the position. And in the Florida House, both term limits and members choosing to run for higher office resulted in 34 open seats in the 120 member institution.

We now have a clearer picture of the match ups for state House and Senate for the Nov. 6 General Election, with the Republicans looking to retain control of the Governor’s Mansion, Cabinet, Senate and House.

U.S. Senate

In the Republican primary Gov. Rick Scott (R) easily defeated his primary opponent (by more than 1M votes), a relative unknown, and will face off against current, longtime U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in November.


All Congressional incumbents easily won their primary elections. Below is a breakdown of some key Congressional races:

  • With Congressman Ron DeSantis’ decision to not seek re-election in the Sixth Congressional District and run for Florida governor, former state Rep. Fred Costello (R) made his second attempt to run for Congress. Once again, he lost his primary race. Michael Waltz (R) emerged victorious and will face Nancy Soderberg (D) in the General.
  • In Congressional District 7, state Rep. Mike Miller won his Republican primary and will look to unseat Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy this fall. This is widely considered a race to watch, though the district does still favor the Democrats.
  • In the 15th Congressional District, Congressman Dennis Ross (R) chose not to seek re-election and retired. In this race, attorney and state Rep. Ross Spano (R) defeated Neil Combee (R), a former state representative who was tapped by President Trump to run the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency in Polk County. This is a Republican-leaning seat.
  • In the 17th Congressional District, Congressman Tom Rooney (R) chose to retire from Congress and not seek reelection to a 6th term. In this Republican leaning seat, state Sen. Greg Steube (R) defeated state Rep. Julio Gonzalez (R).
  • In the 27th Congressional District, longtime Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) chose to retire from Congress. Even though this district was held by a Republican, it leans Democratic. In the Democratic primary Donna Shalala (D), the former University of Miami president and secretary of Health & Human Services under President Clinton, outlasted a very crowded field to win the Democratic primary. She beat state Rep. David Richardson (D) and Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez (D). On the Republican side, nine Republicans faced in the primary, and Maria Elvira Salazar came out on top. This seat is expected to flip from red to blue in November.

Florida Cabinet


  • In the Republican primary, Congressman DeSantis defeated Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. Congressman DeSantis is a former Navy JAG officer who served in both Guantanamo and Iraq and, perhaps most critically, has the endorsement of President Trump. Since DeSantis officially announced his bid in January, he climbed in the polls despite running far behind Putnam in fundraising and campaign infrastructure. Despite jabs from Putnam about his frequent cable news appearances and digs about his understanding of Florida, Trump’s endorsement, which even included a Presidential rally in the heart of Tampa, sealed DeSantis’ fate as the primary victor.
  • In the Democratic primary, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum pulled off the surprise upset and defeated Congresswoman Gwen Graham, who led in all polls prior to election day. Gillum also outlasted self-funding billionaire Jeff Greene and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. Gillum would be Florida’s first African American governor.


  • In the Republican primary, incumbent CFO Jimmy Patronis easily won his primary to retain his seat. In the Democratic primary, former state Sen. Jeremy Ring, a former Yahoo executive, easily won his primary. These two will now go head-to-head in the general.

Attorney General

  • In the Republican primary, former state prosecutor and circuit court judge Ashley Moody defeated state Rep. Frank White. This brutal primary included lots of mudslinging from both sides, with White alleging Moody had Democratic roots and a lawsuit against President Trump, and with Moody countering with White’s lack of judicial and criminal justice experience.
  • In the Democratic primary, former CFO Alex Sink’s appointed Insurance Consumer Advocate and current state Representative Sean Shaw won his primary against Ryan Torrens, who was sued by Shaw for using an illegal contribution to cover the qualifying fee to run for office.

Commissioner of Agriculture

  • In the Republican primary, state Rep. Matt Caldwell from Ft. Myers defeated former state Rep. Baxter Troutman and state Sen. Denise Grimsley.
  • In the Democratic primary, Nikki Fried won her primary election and faces a tough general election.

State Legislative Races

In the Florida House of Representatives, all 120 seats were up for re-election this cycle. In many of those seats, incumbents were elected without opposition after the qualifying deadline. During the off-cycle, there were three special elections to fill vacant seats that could not wait until the normal Aug. 28 primary and Nov. 6 dates to be filed. Republicans currently hold a 79 to 41 advantage which includes the off cycle special elections. After Tuesday’s results were tallied, Republicans continue to hold a healthy majority. The results have been counted and 43 House seats have been won, either by candidates running unopposed or by candidates who emerged from their primaries without opposition in the general election. Another handful of races have also likely been decided in heavily Republican or democrat districts where opposition are unlikely to mount real opposition in the general election. Only one incumbent member lost his bid for reelection, Democratic Rep. Roy Hardemon. 0

In the Florida Senate, exactly half of the body was up for reelection this election cycle. Only two members, Sen. Audrey Gibson (Jacksonville) and Sen. Lauren Book (Hollywood), were elected after the early summer qualifying period without opposition. Only one incumbent lost her bid for reelection, Democratic Sen. Daphne Campbell. One member, Sen. Lori Berman (Palm Beach) was elected on April 10 in a special election and two more districts –23 and 25—were rolled into the normal election cycle and will be decided on Nov.6. Republicans currently hold the majority in the Senate by a margin of 23-16 (one vacancy will also be filled in November). This primary election looks quite a bit different than the House after Tuesday’s primary. Aside from the two Senators elected without opposition, every other seat will have to wait until Nov. 6 to be decided.  Both Republican and Democrat challengers exist in every seat.

Below is a breakdown of the state legislative races:

Florida Senate

  • District 16 will be a race to watch, especially in the general election. Former State Rep. Ed Hooper was elected easily on the Republican ticket but will likely face stiff opposition by former Rep. Amanda Murphy, also elected easily on the Democratic ticket.
  • In a Democratic seat, Senate District 34 pitted two heavy hitters against one another. Sen.Gary Farmer, who is the incumbent, and former Rep. Jim Waldman. Ultimately the incumbent prevailed, but only after a bitter primary.
  • In one of the most hotly contested races this cycle, District 38 did not disappoint. Jason Pizzo a lawyer from Miami unseated the incumbent Sen. Daphne Campbell, a well-liked member by her constituents made to many mistakes in the primary against a tough opponent.
  • After current Senate President Joe Negron decided not to return for his final two years in office, a special election was triggered. In Senate District 25 Rep. Gayle Harrel was victorious in a nasty primary election against a well-funded Belinda Keiser. Like Gruters, Harrell will face a relatively easy general in a Republican district.

Florida House of Representatives

  • In District 1, former state representative Mike Hill defeated Rebecca Bydlak in the Republican primary. Democrat Vikki Garret defeated Franscine Mathis.  Hill will be the favorite to win in November, as the district is heavily Republican.
  • In District 2, Alex Andrade, an attorney and adjunct professor at the University of West Florida, defeated Greg Merk, a retired Naval aviator, and will head straight to Tallahassee, facing no opposition in the November general election.
  • In District 15, Republican Wyman Duggan, a Jacksonville attorney endorsed by Mayor Lenny Curry, defeated primary opponents Mark Zeigler and Joseph Hogan. Duggan will go on to face Tracye Ann Polson in the November general election.
  • In District 37, three Republicans ran to replace House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is not seeking re-election because of term limits.  Land O’ Lakes businessman Ardian Zika defeated Elle Rudisill and Ryan Patrick Boney in a three-way primary.  Zika, who has strong financial support from the Tampa Bay business community, will face off against Democrat Tammy Garcia in November.
  • In District 51, Henry Parrish, current Cocoa Mayor, and Tyler Sirois faced off in the Republican primary. Sirois will go head to head in November with Democrat Mike Blake to succeed term-limited Republican state Rep. Tom Goodson.
  • Polk County Commissioner Melony Bell defeated Jeff Mann, a business owner from Bartow in the District 56 primary election. Bell does not have an opponent in the general election, and will head to Tallahassee to replace Rep. Ben Albritton, who is required to leave the seat because of term limits and is now seeking a promotion to the State Senate.
  • In House District 59, Joe Wicker, an Army veteran who owns a home health-care business defeated Rhonda Storms, former Hillsborough County commissioner and state Senator, in the Republican primary. He will run against Democrat Adam Hattersley in the November general election to replace Rep. Ross Spano, who resigned to run for Congress.
  • In the District 66 republican primary, Nick DiCeglie, the chair of the Republican Party of Pinellas County, defeated Berny Jacques.  DiCeglie will face off against democrat Alex Heeren to replace term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern.
  • In District 74, James Buchanan, the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan defeated Linda Yates, the current vice mayor of North Port. He is looking to succeed Rep. Julio Gonzalez who left the state House to run for Congress.
  • In District 81, attorney and mediator Tina Polsky defeated retired teacher Mindy Koch, who is also the President of the Democratic Club of Boca Raton and Delray Beach. With no opponent in the general election, Polsky will head to Tallahassee to assume the seat currently held by Rep. Joe Abruzzo.
  • In the District 89 Democratic primary, Ocean Ridge Mayor James Bonfiglio is competing against Ryan Rossi, a teacher turned real estate agent from Boca Raton. In the Republican primary, Mike Caruso, a Delray Beach CPA, defeated Matt Spritz, a corporate attorney from Boca Raton in his first run for public office.  Bonfiglio and Caruso will face off in November to replace term-limited Rep. Bill Hager.
  • In House District 108, Democratic state Rep. Roy Hardemon was unseated by Dotie Joseph. He was criticized during his only term in the House for voting with the Republicans often.
  • In House District 109, former State Rep. James Bush III won his primary election to occupy the seat that will be vacated by term-limited Rep. Cynthia A. Stafford, who had endorsed his opponent to fill her seat. No Republican has mounted a challenge, so Bush will head straight to Tallahassee in November.
  • In House District 113, former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco came out as the winner in a three-way Democratic primary, besting political newcomer Kubs Lalchandani, and Deede Weithorn, another former Miami Beach Commissioner. Grieco will face-off against Republican Johnathan “JP” Parker in the November general election for the Democratic-leaning seat currently held by Rep. David Richardson.

There was one local race that credit unions were paying close attention to. Tallahassee-Leon FCU President/CEO, Lisa Brown, came in second in her primary election for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 3. Because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will go to a run-off in November. Lisa will need our support as she continues in her electoral journey.

For full election results, click here.

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