Friday July 10th, 2020 8:28AM

Primary takeaways: Establishment loses, diversity grows

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump got his man in battleground Florida, but he watched a prominent immigration ally fall in Arizona in what was another eventful night in the 2018 midterm season.

Arizona and Florida held primaries Tuesday, both of which tested Trump's influence. There were also new signs of diversity on the Democratic side.

Takeaways from one of the final rounds of voting ahead of midterm elections:


The political establishment in both parties had a bad night in Florida's high-profile race for governor.

On the Republican side, Trump got his man, Republican congressman Ron DeSantis, who beat out the establishment favorite, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Despite Trump's support, DeSantis was not the strongest general election candidate in the race, operatives in both parties suggest.

The three-term Republican congressman who makes frequent Fox News appearances is known as an immigration hard-liner in a state where Hispanic voters hold outsized sway. And lest there be any question about his allegiance to Trump's divisive immigration policies, DeSantis encourages his toddler to "build the wall" with blocks in one campaign ad.

That's a message that may play well among a general electorate in West Virginia, where Trump won by more than 40 percentage points in 2016, but Trump carried Florida by only a single percentage point.

On the Democratic side, liberal champion Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, bested a crowded field that included establishment favorite Gwen Graham, the former congresswoman and daughter of Florida political icon Bob Graham.

Graham, who was considered a centrist, was viewed as a more attractive general election candidate in the purple state. Gillum is more liberal, having earned the backing of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer.

To win the governor's office for the first time since 1999, Democrats will have to come together quickly.

The results on both sides underscore the outsized influence of each party's most passionate voters in lower-turnout off-year elections.


Martha McSally won the GOP nomination for Arizona Senate, but the results show how divided the party is and the challenge that lies ahead.

A significant number of Republicans backed former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and fellow immigration hard-liner Kelli Ward.

Now McSally has to bring together the party — including some of Trump's most devoted supporters — going into the fall against Democrat Krysten Sinema, who is widely considered well-positioned. The race gives Democrats one of their best pickup opportunities in the nation.

Meanwhile, it would be wrong to assume that McSally's win is a repudiation of the tough rhetoric of her challengers, who essentially split the conservative vote.

The 86-year-old man known nationwide as Sheriff Joe, who personifies the tough immigration policies that define the modern-day Republican Party, may never serve in public office again after his loss Tuesday.

(For those who forget, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt last year for ignoring a judge's order to stop detaining immigrants in the country illegally. Trump later pardoned him.)


If a Democratic wave is coming to Florida, it may have to be supplied by independents.

With just a handful of precincts left to count, Republicans cast more than 1.6 million Florida ballots, while registered Democrats were on track to fall just below 1.5 million. Beyond the raw vote totals, the GOP count also was a larger share of its last presidential election turnout.

That measure is a useful way to assess which party is more excited about a midterm election, and it's particularly useful in Florida because the state limits primaries only to voters registered by party.

The GOP total came to almost 35 percent of what Trump won in Florida in 2016. The Democrats' total was about 33 percent of Hillary Clinton's 2016 turnout.

Of course, it doesn't mean Republicans are guaranteed big wins in Florida this fall. But it does show the GOP base in Florida is anything but depressed, turning out in solid numbers to nominate DeSantis after he was endorsed by Trump.

The scenario cuts against the grain of a midterm election cycle that's been defined by energy on the left in other states, and it puts an added burden on Florida Democratic candidates to attract voters who didn't participate in Tuesday's primaries.


There was less drama on the Senate side in battleground Florida, but the stage is now set for what will likely be the nation's most expensive midterm contest.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott easily captured the Republican nomination in the GOP's bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. At 75 and seeking his fourth term, Nelson is considered particularly vulnerable as voters continue to show disdain for candidates with deep ties to the establishment.

Scott, an independently wealthy businessman, has already spent more than $27 million on the race compared to Nelson's $6 million. The conservative Koch network has identified the Senate seat as a top target, and outside groups on both sides are expected to dump millions more in the contest.

The extraordinary price tag of running a statewide campaign in Florida, which features 10 media markets, will test each side's resolve and resources — particularly on the Democratic side.

Republicans know Scott can and will dump millions more of his own personal wealth into his campaign. Democrats aren't so lucky.

National Democrats are already weighing how best to invest their limited dollars considering their challenges in other states where their incumbents are on the defensive. Yet if Democrats lose Nelson's seat in Florida, their already narrow path to the Senate majority becomes virtually nonexistent.


In his upset victory, Gillum joins two other African-American gubernatorial nominees on the November ballot, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams and Maryland Democrat Ben Jealous, in what may be the party's most diverse midterm class in history.

No state is currently represented by a black governor.

The nominations, of course, do not mean the candidates will continue to re-write history.

Republicans have cast Gillum, like the other black nominees, as part of the Democratic Party's far-left fringe. Indeed, in all three cases, the candidates were backed by Sanders. Progressive billionaires Steyer and George Soros invested heavily in Gillum's primary campaign as well.

Diversity may help win Democratic primaries in 2018, but it's unclear if it'll help Democrats pick up seats among a broader general election audience.


Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Greek ferry fire sends smoke billowing, but all aboard safe
Greek authorities say 875 passengers safely disembarked from a ferry after a fire broke out early Wednesday as it sailed to the island of Crete from the mainland
5:50AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Primary takeaways: Establishment loses, diversity grows
Primary night takeaways: Establishment loses; diversity grows; good-bye, Sheriff Joe
5:44AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Facing protests, Russia's Putin offers pension concessions
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has offered concessions to Russia's much-debated pension reform, scaling back the proposed retirement age to 60 instead of 63
5:42AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Arizona Senate race likely to be a tale of 2 pivots
The Senate race in Arizona is shaping up to be a contest between two candidates who have pivoted beyond their bases
4:21AM ( 1 hour ago )
Fla. governor's race pits liberal Dem vs. Trump Republican
In Florida governor's race, liberal Democrat faces Trump's GOP candidate
4:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump candidate, Dem underdog to vie for Florida gov's seat
Florida's governor' race will largely be a referendum on President Donald Trump
4:01AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Primary takeaways: Establishment fails and diversity grows
Primary night takeaways: Establishment fails, diversity grows and Sheriff Joe says goodbye
1:22AM ( 4 hours ago )
Legal marijuana industry tries to shake 'stoner' stereotypes
With the nation's multibillion-dollar marijuana industry beginning to flower, the commercial cannabis industry is pushing hard to dispel the idea everyone who tokes up these days is a stumbling slacker living on their parents' couch
1:18AM ( 4 hours ago )
Delta Sigma Theta pays tribute to soror, the Queen of Soul
Hundreds of Delta Sigma Theta members pay last respects to Queen of Soul in moving tribute to their soror
1:18AM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Arizona features 2 open House seats being eyed by Democrats
Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick emerged from a competitive Democratic primary to win the nomination in an open Arizona House seat.
3:38AM ( 2 hours ago )
Graham says McCain was a man of honor, imperfection
Remembering his friend, Graham says there's a little John McCain in everyone
1:04AM ( 4 hours ago )
Ducey, Garcia to face off for Arizona governor in November
The incumbent Republican governor and a Democratic Latino education professor won their parties' respective nods in Tuesday's primary election for Arizona's top office
12:56AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Arizona voters considering replacement for Flake
Arizona voters are nominating candidates to replace one of President Donald Trump's fiercest critics in the Senate
7:14PM ( 10 hours ago )
Arizona primary shadowed by death of McCain
Death of Sen. John McCain is shadowing Tuesday's primary contests in Arizona
7:14PM ( 10 hours ago )
Catholic board seeks parishioner-led abuse investigation
Catholic board says only laity can properly investigate clergy sex abuse
7:03PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Some polling places open hours late during Arizona primary
Dozens of Phoenix-area voters say they showed up to cast a ballot in Arizona's primary election and were turned away
7:52PM ( 10 hours ago )
Mayor, businessman face off in Oklahoma governor GOP runoff
The race for the GOP nomination in Oklahoma's race for governor could hinge less on experience and ideology, and more on the state's geography and the candidates' allegiance to President Donald Trump
7:48PM ( 10 hours ago )
McCain's death shadows Republican primary in Arizona
Death of Sen. John McCain is shadowing Tuesday's primary contests in Arizona
3:37PM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Elections
Judges: Congress map still unlawful with partisan bias
Federal judges have affirmed their earlier decision striking North Carolina's congressional districts as unconstitutional because Republicans drew them with excessive partisanship
1:59AM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Governor to wait to announce McCain replacement
The governor of Arizona does not plan to announce whom he will appoint to replace Republican John McCain in the U.S. Senate until after McCain's burial
12:05PM ( 2 days ago )
Democrats OK limiting party leaders' role in picking nominee
After two years of sometimes ugly public fighting, Democratic Party leaders have decided to limit their own high-profile roles in choosing presidential nominees
5:18PM ( 3 days ago )
General Election News
Who is Bruce Ohr? Justice official has attracted GOP ire
Once a relatively anonymous lawyer at the Justice Department, Bruce Ohr is now the subject of GOP criticism
1:48AM ( 1 day ago )
Trump welcomes president of Kenya to the White House
President Donald Trump welcomes the president of Kenya to the White House
10:37PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Makeshift memorials for McCain grow in Phoenix
Mourners are visiting two makeshift memorials for John McCain in Arizona
5:30PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Greek ferry fire sends smoke billowing, but all aboard safe
Greek authorities say 875 passengers safely disembarked from a ferry after a fire broke out early Wednesday as it sailed to the island of Crete from the mainland
5:50AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Facing protests, Russia's Putin offers pension concessions
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has offered concessions to Russia's much-debated pension reform, scaling back the proposed retirement age to 60 instead of 63
5:42AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Iraq official: Suicide bomber kills 7 at checkpoint in Anbar
A security official says a suicide bomber targeted a security checkpoint in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, killing seven people
5:39AM ( 21 minutes ago )
German city removes Erdogan statue over security concerns
A golden statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan installed as part of an art festival whose motto is "bad news" has been taken down after authorities in the central city of Wiesbaden said it was becoming a security issue
4:55AM ( 1 hour ago )
Pope laments abuse in 1st post-bombshell Vatican appearance
Pope laments abuse cover-up in first Vatican appearance after bombshell accusations against him
4:33AM ( 1 hour ago )