Crist, Demings, Lawson going to Congress

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COMPILED FROM WIRE REPORTS

Here’s a roundup of political races of interest around the state.

U.S. Congress
Florida voters on Tuesday sent a former governor to Congress and called home a 24-year veteran lawmaker from Washington.

161111_front04Charlie Crist, a former one-term Republican governor who lost the 2014 governor’s race as a Democrat, defeated U.S. Rep. David Jolly by 52-48 percent in the redrawn Congressional District 13, centered on Crist’s hometown of St. Petersburg.

Crist’s victory revived a political career that had stalled after a loss as an independent candidate in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, followed by his narrow loss to Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

In the Orlando area, political novice Stephanie Murphy, with a powerful financial push from national Democrats ousted veteran U.S. Rep. John Mica, a Winter Park Republican who was seeking his 13th term in Congress.

Democrats targeted Mica because court-ordered redistricting had reshaped his district to include a sizable portion of Orlando, where a Democratic candidate would be favored.

Diverse delegation
Florida’s Congressional delegation is more diverse, with four African-American members and four Hispanic members, including Darren Soto, who won election to Congressional District 9 in the Orlando area, becoming Florida’s first congressional representative of Puerto Rican heritage.

Two Black South Florida incumbents, Alcee Hastings and Fredericka Wilson, both return. Among the other new members are former state Sen. Al Lawson, a Democrat representing North Florida’s Congressional District 5, which was previously represented by Corrine Brown; and Democrat Val Demings in Orange County’s Congressional District 10.

The net effect of the night was a one-seat pickup for the Democrats in Florida, which gives Republicans a 16-11 edge in the delegation.

Florida Senate
Oscar Braynon takes over as the chamber’s Senate minority leader, the chief Democrat, later this month. Democrats gained one state Senate seat and are now outnumbered by Republicans, 25-15.

Winners include Rep. Randolph Bracy, an Orlando Democrat in Senate District 11; Rep. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat in Senate District 19; Rep. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat in Senate District 30; Rep. Daphne Campbell, a Miami Democrat in Senate District 38; and Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Lauderhill, in Senate District 33.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard lost to Rep. Frank Artiles, a conservative who gained notoriety for sponsoring a measure that would have required transgender people to use the bathrooms that match the genders on their birth certificates.

Florida House
Florida Democrats made a net gain of two seats in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday, although Republicans kept their firm grip over the 120-member chamber.

In Jacksonville, Tracie Davis, a Democrat who replaced state Rep. Reggie Fullwood after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax charges, won election to District 13.

With some close races not finalized, Republicans appeared headed to holding a 79-seat majority in the House, with the Democrats moving up two seats to 41.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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