Florida House races help determine control in DC
MIAMI (AP) - Democrats flipped a pair of South Florida congressional seats Tuesday as Republicans retained their hold on the state’s delegation.
Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell edged out two-term Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo for the District 26 seat, which is made up of Southwest Miami-Dade County and all of Monroe County. Meanwhile, Donna Shalala, a former University of Miami president, captured the District 27 seat long held by Republican Congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Ros-Lehtinen was one of three Florida Republicans who decided to retire rather than seek re-election this year.
Automatically re-elected to the U.S. House with no GOP or write-in opponents were Reps. Frederica Wilson of Miami-based District 24; Val Demings of the Orlando area's District 10; Lois Frankel of Palm Beach County's District 21; and Kathy Castor of District 14, in the Tampa area. A fifth incumbent Democrat, Rep. Alcee Hastings, easily won in South Florida's District 20 after facing only token write-in opposition.
DISTRICT ONE: Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has been re-elected to the House from Florida. Gaetz defeated Democrat Jennifer Zimmerman on Tuesday in Florida's 1st District, which stretches from Pensacola across much of the western Florida Panhandle. Zimmerman is a pediatrician who is originally from the Philippines.
Gaetz previously served as a state representative in the Florida House. He is a strong supporter of President Donald Trump and is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. Gaetz was first elected to Congress in 2016.
DISTRICT TWO: Republican U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn has been re-elected to the House in Florida. Dunn won a second two-year term Tuesday in a sprawling north Florida district by defeating Democrat Bob Rackleff, a Navy veteran and former Leon County commissioner.
Dunn is a surgeon and Army veteran who founded a urological practice in Panama City with more than 400 employees.
DISTRICT THREE: GOP Rep. Ted Yoho has been re-elected to the U.S. House from Florida. Yoho defeated Democratic challenger Yvonne Hayes Hinson for a fourth term representing Florida's 3rd congressional district, which includes the cities of Gainesville and Ocala.
Yoho is an animal veterinarian and small-business owner who sits on the House Agriculture and Foreign Affairs committees. He had never run for public office before his first congressional campaign.
Hinson is a former Gainesville City Commission member, special education teacher and principal, and entrepreneur.
DISTRICT FOUR: Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford has been re-elected in Florida. Voters on Tuesday handed Rutherford a second term representing the state's 4th congressional district, which is centered in the Jacksonville area. Rutherford defeated Democrat Ges Selmont and two independents to retain his seat.
Rutherford is a former Jacksonville sheriff who also had a long career as an officer with the department. Selmont is an attorney who grew up in Connecticut and has lived in northeast Florida for nine years.
DISTRICT FIVE: Democratic Rep. Al Lawson has been re-elected to Congress from Florida. Lawson won a second term Tuesday representing the 5th District, which extends from Tallahassee to Jacksonville in north Florida.
Lawson is a longtime former state legislator and insurance agent. He defeated former Jacksonville mayor Alvin Brown in the Democratic primary in August.
On Tuesday, Lawson defeated Republican Virginia Fuller, a registered nurse and pediatric-care facility operator who moved to Florida about two years ago after decades in California.
DISTRICT SIX: Republican Michael Waltz has won election to an open House seat in Florida, keeping the contested 6th District in the GOP column.
Waltz defeated Democrat Nancy Soderberg on Tuesday to win the seat vacated by Republican Ron DeSantis, who resigned to run for Florida governor. The district includes the cities of Daytona Beach and Deltona.
Waltz has not sought elective office before. He runs a government contracting company and is a former Army Green Beret who served in Afghanistan. He also was a foreign policy analyst under President George W. Bush. During his campaign, he stressed a goal of seeking compromise in Congress.
Soderberg runs a public service program at the University of North Florida and previously served on the National Security Council and United Nations under President Bill Clinton.
DISTRICT SEVEN: Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy has won a second term in the House from Florida. Murphy defeated Republican Mike Miller on Tuesday in the 7th District, which includes downtown Orlando and suburbs such as Winter Park.
Murphy is part of several conservative Democratic organizations on Capitol Hill and says she is focused on job creation and better wages. She is a former educator at Rollins College and worked as a national security specialist in the Defense Department.
Miller served in the Florida House beginning in 2014 before running for Congress. He has also worked for several other Republican lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
DISTRICT EIGHT: Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey has won re-election to Congress from Florida. Posey defeated Democratic challenger Sanjay Patel in Tuesday's election for a sixth term in the House. Posey represents Florida's 8th congressional district, which includes the cities of Melbourne and Vero Beach.
Before his election to Congress, Posey served in the Florida House and Senate. He is a longtime real estate agent.
Patel's website says he is a political activist who focuses on economic justice and fair wages, health care as a human right, and guaranteed public education for all Floridians.
DISTRICT NINE: Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has won a second term in Florida.
Soto defeated Republican challenger Wayne Liebnitzky in Tuesday's vote for the seat in the 9th congressional district, which includes the central Florida cities of Kissimmee, St. Cloud and Winter Haven. Liebnitzky was also the GOP nominee in 2016.
Soto is a former Florida state legislator who won his first race for Congress two years ago. Liebnitzky is a Navy veteran, engineer and businessman.
DISTRICT 10: Val Demings re-elected with no opposition.
DISTRICT 11: Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster has won a fifth term representing a congressional district in central Florida.
Voters on Tuesday handed Webster a victory in the 11th District, which includes the cities of Spring Hill and the Villages, a massive retirement community of former non-Florida residents.
Webster defeated Democratic challenger Dana Cottrell, a teacher in Hernando County.
Before he was elected to Congress, Webster served in the Florida Legislature for 28 years. He owns an air-conditioning and heating business.
DISTRICT 12: Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis has won re-election in Florida.
Bilirakis won a seventh term in the House in Tuesday's vote. He represents Florida's 12th congressional district, which includes northern parts of the Tampa Bay area.
Bilirakis defeated Democrat Chris Hunter, a former federal prosecutor. Bilirakis is an attorney and former state legislator whose father, Mike Bilirakis, served in Congress for 24 years.
DISTRICT 13: Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist has won re-election in Florida.
Crist won a second term in Tuesday's election by defeating Republican George Buck in the 13th congressional district, which includes the Tampa Bay cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
Crist is a former Republican Florida governor who switched parties after an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate. Crist also served in the Florida Legislature and as attorney general.
Buck is an Army veteran and former college professor who currently consults on emergency management and terrorism issues.
DISTRICT 14: Kathy Castor re-elected with no opposition.
DISTRICT 15: Republican Ross Spano has won an open House seat in Florida, keeping it in the GOP column. Spano defeated Democrat Kristen Carlson in the 15th District, which includes Lakeland and some of Tampa's eastern suburbs. The seat opened up when Republican incumbent Dennis Ross decided to retire.
Spano has served in the Florida House since 2012 and campaigned as a common-sense conservative who would push to make recent tax cuts permanent.
Carlson is an attorney who has worked as a prosecutor and also as general counsel to the Florida Department of Citrus. Carlson said she wanted to work toward greater compromise in Congress.
DISTRICT 16: Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan has been re-elected to a seventh term in Florida. Buchanan defeated Democrat David Shapiro on Tuesday to keep his seat in the 16th District, which includes Sarasota and Bradenton.
Buchanan owned successful car dealerships and a printing business before running for Congress. He serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees taxes and entitlement programs such as Social Security, and has championed streamlining the tax code.
Shapiro is an attorney who campaigned on improving health care, creating better jobs and protecting the environment. He criticized Buchanan repeatedly for buying a yacht after voting for the House GOP tax bill.
DISTRICT 17: Republican Greg Steube has won election to an open U.S. House seat in Florida. The former state legislator defeated Democrat Allen Ellison on Tuesday in the 17th congressional district. The district runs from the cities of Sebring and Okeechobee to the southwest Gulf coast.
Ellison is a community organizer involved in economic issues. He became a substitute Democratic candidate after the winning primary candidate, April Freeman, died six weeks before the general election.
Steube is an attorney and Army veteran. The seat opened when Republican incumbent Tom Rooney retired earlier this year.
DISTRICT 18: GOP U.S. Rep. Brian Mast has won re-election to the House from Florida. Mast defeated Democrat Lauren Baer on Tuesday for a second term in the 18th District, which includes Stuart, Port St. Lucie and Jupiter.
Mast served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan as a bomb technician, losing both legs when a device exploded. He received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other commendations.
In Congress, Mast has generally supported President Donald Trump's policies and also worked on veterans' issues.
Baer is an attorney who previously served as an adviser to former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and ex-U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power.
DISTRICT 19: GOP U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney has won a second term in Florida. Rooney defeated Democrat David Holden in the 19th congressional district, which includes the southwest Florida cities of Naples and Cape Coral.
Rooney had never held elected office until his 2016 victory for the House seat. He has operated Rooney Holdings Inc. for more than three decades in such businesses as building and construction management, oil and gas, retail, and transportation. Holden and his wife run a financial and retirement planning business in Naples.
DISTRICT 20: Alcee Hastings re-elected with no opposition.
DISTRICT 21: Lois Frankel re-elected with no opposition.
DISTRICT 22: Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch has been re-elected to a fifth term in Florida.
Deutch defeated Republican Nicolas Kimaz on Tuesday in the 22nd congressional district, which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Deutch is an attorney and former state senator who has been active in gun-control issues since the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Kimaz is a business entrepreneur who also describes himself as a "holistic healer" on his campaign website.
DISTRICT 23: Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has won re-election to a House seat in Florida.
Wasserman Schultz was elected Tuesday to an eighth term in Congress in the 23rd District, which includes several cities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
She defeated Republican candidate Joe Kaufman, a writer and researcher who specializes in national security and Middle East policies. There were also two independent candidates in the race, including Tim Canova, whom Wasserman Shultz defeated in 2016.
Wasserman Schultz is a former National Democratic Committee chairwoman and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump. She recently gained national notice when packages containing a series of pipe bombs used her office as a return address. The packages were sent to prominent Democrats, the news media and others.
A Florida man has been charged in the bomb case.
DISTRICT 24: Frederica Wilson re-elected with no opposition.
DISTRICT 25: Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart has won re-election to a ninth term in Congress from Florida. Diaz-Balart defeated Democrat Mary Barzee Flores on Tuesday in Florida's 25th District, which includes western Miami suburbs and areas near Naples to the west.
The 56-year-old Cuban-American Republican campaigned on his experience and powerful position on the House Appropriations Committee, while mostly staying out of controversies involving President Donald Trump.
Attorney and former judge Barzee Flores sought to link Diaz-Balart to Trump and to money from the National Rifle Association. Barzee Flores was nominated to a federal judgeship by President Barack Obama, but she never got a Senate vote.
Diaz-Balart's brother Lincoln also served in the House and another brother, Jose, is a network news anchor.
DISTRICT 26: Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has ousted GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo from a House seat in Florida, switching it to the Democratic column.
Voters chose Mucarsel-Powell on Tuesday in the 26th District, which runs from south of Miami to Key West. Curbelo has represented the district since 2014. It has been trending more Democratic.
Mucarsel-Powell is originally from Ecuador. She sought to tie Curbelo closely to policies of President Donald Trump seen as unpopular in the district. She also stressed addressing gun violence with ads about her father's shooting death.
Mucarsel-Powell has worked for a number of nonprofit organizations in the Miami area and previously ran unsuccessfully for the Florida Senate.
DISTRICT 27: Former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala on Tuesday won a Florida U.S. House seat long in Republican hands, switching the district to the Democrats.
Shalala, running for elective office for the first time at age 77, won the 27th District over former television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar. The district was represented for decades by GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring.
Without mentioning President Donald Trump by name, Shalala had a clear message for the White House in her victory speech.
"Mr. President, here we come," she said to loud cheers. "Bringing us together is absolutely crucial. Some people would like to divide us. We just can't let that happen, because it's un-American."
Shalala was HHS secretary under President Bill Clinton. She also was president of the universities of Miami and Wisconsin and of the Clinton foundation.