A Million More Floridians Voted by Mail in Tuesday Primaries

August 20, 2020by Brendan Farrington, Associated Press
Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., speaks on the House floor. (House Television via AP)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Former Navy pilot Scott Franklin has ousted Rep. Ross Spano, making the Florida congressman dogged by ethics investigations the eighth incumbent House member to be defeated in party primaries this year.

Tuesday’s contests were shaped by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 2.3 million people casting mail-in ballots.

That compares to fewer than 1.3 million in the 2016 primary. Unlike 2016, when there were primaries for U.S. Senate that helped drive up turnout, there were no statewide races on the August 2020 ballot.

This year also has been tough on House incumbents. The eight defeats double 2018’s total and are the most since 1974 to lose in a year when the nation’s congressional districts hadn’t just been redrawn to reflect a new census, which happens every 10 years.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Spano for alleged campaign finance violations. The House Ethics Committee was looking into allegations that Spano borrowed more than $100,000 from two friends and then loaned the money to his campaign. But it paused the review when the criminal investigation began.

Franklin said he contested the nomination in Spano’s district because he was fearful Democrats might capitalize on allegations against the incumbent to flip the seat in November.

“Politically, ideologically we’re pretty close on the issues, but with the ethics and the investigations hanging over him it just really made the seat vulnerable, and that was my concern,” Franklin said.

The district sits east of Tampa in central Florida and has traditionally voted Republican. Franklin, a businessman and Lakeland city commissioner, now faces Democrat Alan Cohn, a former television journalist who had raised about $600,000 for the race as of July 29.

In north Florida, Kat Cammack won a crowded GOP primary to replace her former boss, outgoing Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho.

The 32-year-old Cammack owns a political consulting firm and previously served as Yoho’s deputy chief of staff and his former campaign manager. She prominently featured her connection to Yoho during the campaign.

Cammack won in a Republican field of 10 candidates in the firmly Republican district that runs from Ocala to just south of Jacksonville.

“It’s a very humbling experience winning a 10-way primary,” she said. “It’s a sign that there’s a next generation of conservatives coming up and we’re ready to start a new squad on Capitol Hill.”

Florida will also elect a new member of Congress in a strongly GOP district in southwest Florida, where U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney is stepping down after two terms. Nine Republicans faced off in the primary to replace him in a race that was too close to call Wednesday. Mail-in ballots from overseas voters, such as those in the military, can be returned up to 10 days after election night, and they could narrow the margin and prompt an automatic recount of ballots.

In Broward County, Sheriff Gregory Tony claimed victory in the Democratic primary over his predecessor, who was fired after the Parkland massacre. Tony replaced Scott Israel in 2019 after Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed Israel over his handling of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead.

In a Palm Beach County congressional district, far right conservative Laura Loomer won the Republican primary to face Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel. The district is firmly Democratic, and Frankel has been a political fixture there for decades.

While President Donald Trump has raised questions about the potential for fraud in voting by mail, he later walked back his comments, at least as far as Florida was concerned, and requested a mail-in ballot of his own.

Democrats now have the registration edge in Florida, but independents can, as usual, make all the difference. As of June 30, Florida had nearly 4.9 million active Republican voters and more than 5.1 million active Democratic voters.

The state has nearly 3.8 million voters who either are not registered with a party or are registered with a minor party.

James Collins, 69, a retiree in Fort Lauderdale, said that because he was “a bit apprehensive because of the pandemic,” he went to his polling station early in the morning Tuesday, donning vinyl gloves and a face mask.

“No one was there except the poll workers. It was very quick,” Collins said.

____

AP writers Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee and Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg contributed to this report.

In The News

Health

Voting

Elections

Agreement Eludes Senators On Election Reform Proposal
Congress
Agreement Eludes Senators On Election Reform Proposal
May 12, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee tried Tuesday to amend a bill before sending it off to a final vote that would set national standards for elections. It made little headway in reaching agreement in a sharply divided Senate Rules and Administration Committee. Republicans said it was... Read More

Democrats Press for Broader Voter Access as GOP Resists
Congress
Democrats Press for Broader Voter Access as GOP Resists

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in the U.S. Senate mounted an aggressive case against Democrats' sweeping election and voter-access legislation, pushing to roll back proposals for automatic registration, 24-hour ballot drop boxes and other changes in an increasingly charged national debate. The legislation, a top priority of... Read More

Virginia Republicans to Select Statewide Nominees Saturday
In The News
Virginia Republicans to Select Statewide Nominees Saturday
May 8, 2021
by Dan McCue

Republicans will gather at 39 sites around Virginia Saturday to choose a slate of statewide candidates, with no choice, of course, being more important than that of governor. In a year in which the battle for the future of the GOP has mostly been waged in... Read More

Election Officials Face Fines, Charges In GOP Voting Laws
In The States
Election Officials Face Fines, Charges In GOP Voting Laws

In 2020, election officials tried to make voting easier and safer amid a global pandemic. Next time, they might get fined or face criminal charges.  Republicans are creating a new slate of punishments for the county officials who run elections, arguing they overstepped their authority when... Read More

Texas Passes Contentious Voting Bill After All Night Debate
In The States
Texas Passes Contentious Voting Bill After All Night Debate
May 7, 2021
by Reece Nations

AUSTIN, Texas — Following hours of debate over amendments proposed by Democratic lawmakers, the Texas House of Representatives approved new restrictions to state election rules early Friday morning. After Democrats proposed more than 130 amendments to the legislation, the lawmakers eventually agreed to revise the bill... Read More

Lawsuits Follow Changes In State Voting Laws
In The States
Lawsuits Follow Changes In State Voting Laws
May 7, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

Florida was hit with multiple civil rights lawsuits Thursday minutes after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to limit mail-in voting and to require more complete voter identification. The NAACP, the League of Women Voters and others said in their lawsuits in federal court that the... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top