Florida 2022 Primary Election Update

August 29, 2022

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Republicans dominated turnout in Florida’s primary elections on Aug. 23, 2022, with 195,000 more Republicans voting than did Democrats despite having no competitive statewide races at the top of the ticket. This is not a good omen for Democrats in competitive races throughout the state of Florida, as their turnout lagged significantly behind 2018 off-year election primary turnout. If these turnout trends are similar in November, it will be a tough general election for Florida Democrats trying to make inroads into heavy Republican majorities and statewide offices. 

Governor and Cabinet

It was a good day for Charlie Crist, as he handily defeated State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the race to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis in November. With significant name ID and fundraising advantages, Crist was able to run up the score in most areas of the state. Even still, he will have quite a challenge taking on DeSantis, who holds a significant fundraising advantage.

In the race for attorney general, former state attorney Aramis Ayala won the Democratic nomination, but will face an uphill battle against popular Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Former state Rep. Adam Hattersley will take on well-funded incumbent State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and small business owner Naomi Blemur will take on current Senate President Wilton Simpson for State Agriculture Commissioner. 

U.S. Congress

U.S. Representative Val Demings won the Democratic nomination to run for U.S. Senate in the state. She will face incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in the Nov. 8 general election.

Former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, fueled by an endorsement from DeSantis, defeated several candidates — including Senate Appropriations Chair Kelly Stargel — in newly drawn Congressional District 15. She will take on journalist Alan Cohn for a Republican leaning congressional seat in November.

Democrat state Sen. Annette Taddeo won her primary for Miami-Dade County’s congressional seat to challenge Republican incumbent Maria Elvira Salazar in a November race that leans slightly Republican.

Key State Legislative Races

Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book held off a tough primary challenge and will remain a state senator representing Broward County.

With an endorsement from DeSantis, political outsider Kiyan Michael, won the state primary for House District 16.

Former members Bruce Antone, a Democrat, and Republican Kim Berfield won their respective state legislative primaries for seats 41 and 58.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the defeat of a number of incumbents on various school boards across Florida. Mirroring the issues raised in the Virginia election months ago related to parental rights in education, candidates across the state battled over ideological issues pertaining to teachings in the classroom on race, gender, and political ideology. When the dust settled, DeSantis claimed victory in many of these races, as the overwhelming majority of candidates he endorsed won their races.

These primaries will set up contentious battles in the November general election, with between five and seven state Senate seats and 15 to 20 state House seats expected to be competitive races.