Florida Government and Politics Special Edition: Primary Election Results

25 August 2010 Publication
Authors: Robert H. Hosay Thomas J. Maida

Public Policy News Alert

Governor: Businessman Rick Scott Defeats Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican Primary

In the contest for the Republican nomination for governor, Rick Scott defeated Attorney General Bill McCollum. The unofficial final vote was 595,183 (46.4 percent) for Mr. Scott, 557,318 (43.5 percent) for Mr. McCollum, and 129,989 (10.1 percent) for retired Army Colonel Mike McCalister.

Mr. Scott, who ran a largely self-funded campaign, reportedly spent nearly $50 million in the primary election. Before entering politics, he was the CEO of the hospital chain that was then known as Columbia-HCA. In 2009 – 2010, he led a group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, which campaigned against federal health care reform legislation. His gubernatorial campaign stressed his outsider status, as compared with Mr. McCollum, who served in Congress for 20 years before being elected attorney general in 2006.

Mr. Scott’s Democratic opponent in the general election will be state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. Before being elected to the office of CFO in 2006, Ms. Sink was president of Florida operations for Bank of America. Bud Chiles, the son of the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, also is running for governor without party affiliation.

U.S. Senate: Rep. Kendrick Meek Defeats Investor Jeff Greene for the Democratic Nomination

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-17th Congressional District) defeated real estate investor Jeff Greene in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. The unofficial final vote was 522,982 (57.5 percent) for Rep. Meek, 282,568 (31.1 percent) for Mr. Greene, 59,294 (6.5 percent) for wellness educator Glenn Burkett, and 44,463 (4.9 percent) for former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre.

Rep. Meek was first elected to Congress in 2002 to succeed his mother, Carrie Meek, who served from 1993 – 2003. Mr. Greene, a real estate investor who ran a largely self-funded campaign, reportedly spent in excess of $25 million in pursuit of the Democratic nomination.

Rep. Meek’s opponents in the general election will be former state House speaker Marco Rubio of Miami, the Republican candidate, and Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican who is running without party affiliation.

U.S. House: Republicans Choose Candidates to Challenge Vulnerable Democrats

Press accounts have identified four Democratic members of the House as being especially vulnerable in the 2010 election cycle: Allen Boyd of the 2nd Congressional District, Alan Grayson of the 8th District, Ron Klein of the 22nd District, and Suzanne Kosmas of the 24th District.

Rep. Boyd won a close primary contest, defeating state Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson of Tallahassee by a vote of 42,437 (51.5 percent) to 40,017 (48.5 percent). The Republican candidate for the 2nd District is Panama City funeral home owner Steve Southerland, who was the choice of 46.9 percent of Republicans in a crowded field.

Rep. Grayson of the 8th District was one of the more colorful and controversial members of the 111th Congress. Seven Republicans competed in the primary election to oppose Rep. Grayson in the fall. Former state senator Daniel Webster of Orlando won the Republican primary with 40.2 percent of the vote. Mr. Webster was the first Republican speaker of the Florida House since Reconstruction and subsequently served as Republican leader in the Senate.

Rep. Klein will be opposed by retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West of Deerfield Beach, who won his primary with 76.6 percent of the vote. Mr. West has the support of several national conservative groups and publications.

Rep. Kosmas will apparently be opposed by state Rep. Sandy Adams of Orlando, who leads in a very close race. The unofficial final vote was 19,885 (30.1 percent) for Ms. Adams, 19,325 (29.3 percent) for telecommunications executive Karen Diebel, 18,225 (27.7 percent) for restaurant executive Craig Miller, and 8,518 (12.9 percent) for other candidates. Rep. Adams, a former deputy sheriff, served in the state House from 2002 through 2010.

Attorney General: Democrats Choose Dan Gelber and Republicans Choose Pam Bondi

Both parties had close primary races for state attorney general. In the Democratic contest, state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach prevailed over state Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres by a vote of 486,351 (59.1 percent) to 337,022 (40.9 percent). Sen. Gelber served in the Florida House from 2000 to 2008, when he was elected to the Senate. He also has served as a federal prosecutor and a U.S. Senate staff member.

The Republican primary was a close three-way race between former Tampa area prosecutor Pam Bondi, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, and former legislator and Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Holly Benson. The unofficial final vote was 455,011 (37.9 percent) for Ms. Bondi, 394,582 (32.9 percent) for Mr. Kottkamp, and 351,235 (29.3 percent) for Ms. Benson. Ms. Bondi, who served as an assistant state attorney for 18 years, had the support of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the National Rifle Association, and other conservative groups and commentators.

Key State Senate Races

Several races for open Senate seats were hotly contested.

In Senate District 6, which is based in Tallahassee, winning the Democratic nomination is generally considered tantamount to a general election victory. Bill Montford, currently an education lobbyist and formerly a school superintendent and county commissioner, was opposed by former state legislator Curtis Richardson. Mr. Montford won the Democratic primary with 32,352 votes (55.3 percent) over Mr. Richardson’s 26,198 votes (44.7 percent).

In the Tampa area, state Rep. Kevin Ambler and Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman faced off in the Republican primary for the District 12 seat currently held by term-limited Sen. Victor Crist. The unofficial final vote was 18,452 (55.9 percent) for Mr. Norman and 14,530 (44.1 percent) for Mr. Ambler. There is no Democratic candidate in the District 12 race, but Mr. Norman faces opposition in the general election from two write-in candidates.

State Reps. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Ft. Lauderdale and Carl Domino of Juno Beach faced off in the Republican primary for the District 25 Senate seat currently held by Senate President Jeff Atwater, who is running for state Chief Financial Officer. Rep. Bogdanoff won the primary with 16,433 votes (58.0 percent) to Rep. Domino’s 11,891 votes (42.0 percent). In the general election, Rep. Bogdanoff will be opposed by the Democratic candidate, state Rep. Kelly Skidmore of Boca Raton.

The contest for the 27th District seat currently held by Sen. Aronberg featured primaries in both parties. On the Republican side, Wellington Village Councilwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto won her party’s nomination with 12,154 votes (39.1 percent), followed by former state legislator Sharon Merchant with 11,267 votes (36.2 percent), and Mike Lameyer with 7,682 votes (24.7 percent).

In the Democratic primary for the 27th District, state Rep. Kevin Rader of Boynton Beach was opposed by attorney Pete Burkert of Ft. Myers. Rep. Rader won the Democratic nomination with 10,820 votes (52.8 percent) to 9,674 votes (47.2 percent) for Mr. Burkert.

Congratulations to Two Foley Partners!

Two Foley partners from the Orlando office also were candidates on August 24. Congratulations to Ted B. Edwards, who won election to the Orange County Commission, and to John P. Horan, who won election to the Seminole County Commission.

Public Policy News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing up-to-the-minute information about pressing concerns or industry issues affecting our clients and our colleagues. If you have any questions about this alert or would like to discuss these topics further, please contact your Foley attorney or any of the following individuals:

G. Donovan Brown
Tallahassee, Florida

Marnie George
Tallahassee, Florida

Michael P. Harrell
Tallahassee, Florida

Robert H. Hosay
Tallahassee, Florida

Jonathan P. Kilman
Orlando, Florida

Thomas J. Maida
Tallahassee, Florida

Leonard E. Schulte
Tallahassee, Florida

Marnie George of The George Group assists Foley on a variety of government and public policy matters as a consultant

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