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Primaries in Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma end as final midterm matchups set

By
Ray Downs
The final round of 2018 primaries ended Tuesday night, setting the stage for the November midterms. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI
The final round of 2018 primaries ended Tuesday night, setting the stage for the November midterms. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The final round of 2018 primaries ended Tuesday, with voters in Arizona, Oklahoma and Florida choosing the final set of candidates to square off in the November midterms.

Florida

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The biggest surprise of the night was Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who clinched his party's nomination be defeating establishment pick Gwen Graham, who had led polls for months and was expected to cruise to victory.

Gillum picked up 34.3 percent of the vote in a hotly contested race with several candidates. That was enough to edge out Graham, who finished with 31.3 percent of the vote. But Graham lost to Gillum in every county with a major city, such as Tallahassee, where Gillum is the mayor, Jacksoncille, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

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Gillum will face Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., who easily defeated Adam Putnam in the state's GOP primary. DeSantis, who had heavy backing from President Donald Trump, won 56.5 percent of the vote, compared to Putnam's 36.6 percent.

DeSantis' victory was less surprising than Gillum's because he was leading Putnam in recent polls. But like Graham, Putnam was the establishment pick with backing from corporate donors and, until July, was generally in front of DeSantis in polling.

In Florida's Senatorial race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott ran virtually uncontested in the GOP primary and beat perennial candidate Roque De La Fuente with 89 percent of the vote. He will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who will face a difficult contest against the popular governor in November.

RELATED Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma ready for final push in U.S. primaries

Miami's congressional District 27 is being vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, giving Democrats a chance to capture a seat she held since 1989.

Democrat Donna Shalala, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, won her party's nomination for the District 27 seat and will face Republican Maria Salazar, a former news broadcaster well-known to Spanish audiences in the area.

Arizona

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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is retiring, which caused several GOP candidates to jump in the race. But the victor on Tuesday was Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who won nearly 52 percent of the vote, easily defeating state senator Kelli Ward and former sheriff and convict Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio, the anti-immigration lawman who was convicted of criminal contempt last year, had been given a pardon from Trump, making him eligible to run for federal office. But that wasn't enough for the controversial and once-popular sheriff, who received just under 20 percent of Republican votes on Tuesday.

McSally will now face fellow congresswoman, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who won her party's primary with 81 percent.

In the state's gubernatorial race, incumbent Republican Gov. Doug Ducey decisively fended off challenger Ken Bennett with 70 percent of the vote. He will go on to face Democrat David Garcia, who won his party's nomination with nearly 50 percent.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters decided on a primary run-off for governor in which businessman Kevin Stitt beat former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.

Stitt won 56 percent of the vote and will now face Democratic candidate Drew Edmondson, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, in November.

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