Murphy beats Grayson to face Rubio for Senate

Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Patrick Murphy

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

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

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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.

<< SEE THE RESULTS FROM FLORIDA’S PRIMARY RACES HERE >>

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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 home to keep his seat in GOP hands as Democrats sought to regain a majority in the Senate.

News Channel 8 attended Rubio’s primary night event Tuesday. “I’m so grateful now that as I’m back with you for the support that so many people have given us,” Rubio told the crowd.

Meanwhile, Beruff said he’d vote for Rubio. “I’ll vote for him but I won’t endorse him,” the developer said of Rubio.

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4 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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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida voters cast ballots in a primary Tuesday featuring two politicians hoping to hold onto their seats after this year’s bruising presidential contest, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The primary also sets the field for a race that could determine whether Democrats regain control of the U.S. Senate.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner said there were slight delays in opening some polling places, but described no other glitches. More than 1.75 million Floridians have already cast ballots by mail or at early-voting stations.

“Things have been running very, very smoothly,” said Detzner, an appointee of Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

This year’s primary turnout could top ones held in 2012 and 2014— a sign that competitive races for Congress and the Florida Legislature could be driving up turnout this time around.

But few people were casting ballots in the late morning at Mainlands, a Pinellas Park retirement community where weekly bingo is a highlight at centers surrounded by white stucco homes and a golf course.

“I voted for Marco only because I’ve been a longstanding supporter,” said Diane Martin-Johnson, 66. “It’s unfortunate he didn’t do his job fully in Washington this term. I do think he deserves another chance. He thought he was doing the right thing (by running for president). That’s my only complaint against him. He’s a good man.”

Rubio is seeking to secure the Republican nomination for a second term, despite declaring during his failed presidential campaign that he would not run again for Senate. As an incumbent, he cleared what had been a crowded GOP field with his last-minute turnabout.

Millionaire homebuilder Carlos Beruff had rolled the dice to see if the anti-establishment mood powering Donald Trump’s presidential campaign could send him to Washington as well. But 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.

On the Democratic side, Reps. Patrick Murphy has the party’s support over Alan Grayson. 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 and hamstrung by a difficult divorce, relied mostly on small donors and feuded with party leaders.

Todd Martin, 53, and his 18-year-old daughter Haley, voted together in Tallahassee, where they recently moved as she starts college. They both chose Murphy, in part because they like his efforts to get government to address algae outbreaks near their former home in Vero Beach.

“I grew up on the river and it’s a shame what they let happen,” Todd Martin said. “I like where Patrick Murphy stands on the algae. It’s very important to me.”

Rubio and Murphy took opposite approaches on primary day. Rubio had no public events scheduled before polls closed, while Murphy began his day at 7 a.m. at a Miami-Dade polling site, joined by Gov. Bob Graham, a former senator, and his daughter, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham. Murphy also visited two other South Florida polling sites.

And Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, was defending her seat against Tim Canova, a Bernie Sanders-backed law professor, in a primary colored by leaked emails revealing that DNC officials had worked against Sanders to favor Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

Democrats also hope to gain seats in Florida’s heavily Republican House delegation after court-mandated redistricting chipped away the advantages of some incumbents.

Florida had to rip up and redraw its congressional maps after they were found to violate the state constitution’s provision requiring 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 Democrats sweep all four seats seen as competitive in November, that Republican advantage could be reduced to 14-13.

One of those is now held by U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican who was expected to win Tuesday, but who would then have to beat former Gov. Charlie Crist, who used to be a Republican but is now a Democrat.

Detzner said the more than 1.75 million ballots cast by mail or at early voting sites exceeds that of the two previous primary elections, but it’s premature to say if turnout will end up higher this year.

The minor Election Day problems he cited include polling places that failed to open right on time in Lee County and Flagler County; he said firefighters at the station across the street from the Flagler precinct helped a poll worker open that site. Detzner also noted that a polling place at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens was switched to City Hall because of spraying for mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.

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