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2018 Florida Primary Election Recap

Like with any election, there are high and low points. The Florida primary election was no different.

It was a bad night for the political establishment as unexpected candidates pulled off victories against seasoned, well-connected politicians.

In Lee County, nearly 28 percent of residents voted in the primary election. Collier County saw a record amount of voters in Tuesday’s primary election. It had almost 39 percent turnout, according to the Supervisor of Elections Office.

The Race for Governor

Tallahassee’s Mayor Andrew Gillum had one of the most significant victories. Gillum, 39, emerged from the field of five to surprisingly win the Democratic nomination for governor.

Gillum was third or fourth in almost every major poll heading into Tuesday.

The Tallahassee mayor is a progressive liberal who believes in stricter gun laws, more funding for education and raising the corporate tax rate.

The Miami, Fla., native is a stark contrast to the Republican nominee, Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis, 39, who was born in Jacksonville, Fla.,  is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and charter schools.

His top priorities are to strengthen United States borders and immigration laws. His platform aligns with President Donald Trump, who gave him his “full & total endorsement .”

Florida Senate Race

The Florida Senate race is one of the most contested in the country. It is likely to be the most expensive race in Florida history.

Gov. Rick Scott and conservative political action committees have spent $47 million leading up to the Florida primary election. Senator Bill Nelson and his supporters plan a capital expenditure of more than $40 million, primarily in political advertisements.

To date, Scott, 65, reportedly spent more than $27 million on his campaign. Nelson, 75, was more frugal so far, spending over $6 million , according to

The campaigns are expected to focus significant advertising dollars on the blue-green algae and red tide water crisis. Scott and Nelson have persistently blamed one another.

Dr. Richard Coughlin, an associate professor in political science at Florida Gulf Coast University, sees this race as one constituents should pay close attention.

He believes Scott, who was governor in a solidly Republican state for the last eight years, has a lot more vulnerability than Nelson, a senator from a minority party, with the water crisis.

“It may weaken his strength in Southwest Florida all up and down the Gulf Coast,” Dr. Coughlin said. He is referring to voters who are frustrated with how Scott’s ruling party has handled the water crisis.

“Otherwise it would be a key area of the electoral map where Scott would hope to build up huge margins,” he said, “in order to counter some of these advantages that Nelson is going to have in the more urban areas of Florida.”

Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, Congressional

Democrat Sean Shaw is competing against Republican Ashley Moody for the Florida attorney general position.

Democrat Nikki Fried and Republican Matt Caldwell are both seeking the Florida Agriculture Commissioner position.

Democrat David Holden won his primary. He will face off with Republican incumbent Francis Rooney for his congressional seat.

HelloSWFL will be sure to keep you posted over the next two months.

Email your questions, comment, and concerns to HelloSWFL’s political team: and

Additional reporting by Michael Adam Mora