AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File

Florida primary for governor an election Trump is watching

August 28, 2018 - 5:19 am

Florida voters are going to the polls to select nominees to replace Republican Gov. Rick Scott in an election that's caught the attention of President Donald Trump and could see the daughter of a former governor win the nomination for the office he once held.

Trump endorsed U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Republican primary for governor over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

DeSantis entered the race in January, a month after Trump tweeted that he would make "a GREAT governor." He then appeared on Fox News more than 100 times, usually defending the president. Trump held a rally for him in Tampa, and suddenly he was considered the favorite over Putnam, who raised more money, campaigned longer, built support among the party establishment and ran a traditional grassroots campaign.

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham was trying to fend off four challengers as she seeks to become Florida's first woman governor and to take the seat her father, Bob Graham, held from 1979 to 1987.

Graham, a Tallahassee attorney who worked for the local school district, is in a crowded race that also includes former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando-area businessmen Chris King. Graham is described as a moderate Democrat who has had to withstand criticism from Democratic opponents for voting for the Keystone XL Pipeline and siding with Republicans on changes to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

Voters are also picking the nominees for two Cabinet positions: attorney general and agriculture commissioner and several congressional seats. And while Gov. Rick Scott has to win a Republican primary for U.S. Senate before he takes on Democratic. Sen. Bill Nelson, it's a foregone conclusion that he will beat California businessman Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente who mounted a U.S. Senate bids in multiple states at the same time and has no visible campaign in Florida.

In congressional races, four incumbent members of Congress are leaving their seats, setting up primaries to replace them, and three incumbents — Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic U.S. Reps. Al Lawson and Darren Soto — are facing serious challenges from within their own parties.

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