Although Florida sends 26 U.S. representatives to Washington — 16 Republicans and 10 Democrats — political prognosticators on all sides agree that there are only three who face competitive races this fall.
With the nominations of Republican Gov. Rick Scott and former Democratic Gov. Charlie Crist (an ex-Republican) a certainty Tuesday, attention focused on the Republican primaries to choose opponents to freshman Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy and Joe Garcia and on the Democrat tapped to face Republican Rep. Steve Southerland.
In the seven-way race for the GOP nod against Murphy in the 18th District (Palm Beach), former state Rep. Carl Domino won with about 38 percent of the vote. Domino, 70, is an investment counselor and was a key legislative point man for former GOP Gov. Jeb Bush. Murphy, 30, won one of the tightest House races of 2012 in ousting Republican Rep. Allen West.
Murphy is considered a centrist Democrat in the mold of Bill Clinton, who campaigned for him in 2012. The congressman's developer father was a Florida leader in Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in '08.
"But he voted to make Nancy Pelosi speaker and has opposed repeal of Obamacare," Domino told Newsmax earlier this year, "and those are major differences between us."
In the 26th District (Miami), Garcia was elected two years ago in large part because of corruption-related stories surrounding Republican Rep. David Rivera. This time, he faces Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo.
Curbelo, who has been compared to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, ran as a strong conservative on economic and social issues and handily defeated three opponents.
In the 2nd District (Panhandle), two-term Southerland, a stalwart conservative, is considered the lone Republican House member in the Sunshine State in political jeopardy. Re-elected with only 53 percent of the vote in 2012, he now faces the heiress to one of Florida's best-known political names: Gwen Graham, attorney and daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham and niece of the late Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham.
On the day before the primary, Bob Graham was on the campaign trail and joined other family members in flipping burgers at events throughout the 14-county district (billed as, appropriately, "Grilling with the Grahams").
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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