NewsCovering Florida


Not just DeSantis-Crist: inside Florida's other statewide races for November

Republicans targeting a "clean sweep" as Democrats try to hold off the tide in Tallahassee.
Posted at 9:25 PM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-30 17:52:04-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — With Charlie Crist's dominant showing on Tuesday's Democratic primary for governor in Florida, so much attention — and so much money — will flow into Florida for the November election between Crist and incumbent Ron DeSantis.

The image ads, as well as the PAC-funded attack ads, are already airing throughout the state.

Same for the U.S. Senate seat as Republican incumbent Marco Rubio goes for a third term against Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings. Rubio won his first Senate election in 2010, during the Republican wave of the Tea Party, and also a 7-point victory in 2016 when Donald Trump won the presidency.

Yet this national focus on Florida's race for governor and the Senate seat also shows the importance of some of the statewide contests that are "down ballot" but could also ride out the waves of momentum and the coattails of the candidates.

For attorney general, Republican incumbent Ashley Moody is after another four-year term as former Orlando-area state attorney Aramis Ayala captured the Democratic primary. Moody won the 2018 election for the role, with 52% of the vote. 8.1 million Floridians voted in the attorney general election, which was about 99% of the total vote in the governor's race (8.22 million votes). Moody received more votes in 2018 (4.23 million) than DeSantis did four years ago for governor (4.08 million).

Ayala picked up statewide attention when former governor and current U.S. Senator Rick Scott took murder cases away from Ayala when she refused to seek the death penalty. Ayala won a three-way Democratic primary with 45% of the vote.

The 2018 election for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture was incredibly close, with Democrat Nikki Fried winning by 6,753 votes over Republican Matt Caldwell out of 8.06 million votes. This is an open seat, with Senate President Wilton Simpson against Naomi Blemur, a Democrat from North Miami.

"That's also one that might not get a lot of attention but that can have a lot of influence as well, within the cabinet," said Dr. Sandra Pavelka, political science and public administration professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. She noted Fried's presence in the heavily-Republican DeSantis cabinet kept a Democratic voice within that circle in Tallahassee.

"Florida is always part of an attention-grabber at the national level," said Pavelka. "Obviously, it's important to our state but, at the national level, eyes are on Florida and especially this one."

The November election could also show the impact of people voting on a straight ticket. Five polls, over the 12 months, have shown Governor Ron DeSantis defeating Charlie Crist in a heads-up matchup between six and 21 points. If that momentum holds down the ballot, that could also lock up ultimate strength for Republicans in Florida, who keep a majority in the State Senate (23-16), House (76-42), both U.S. Senate seats, and also a majority of the seats in the U.S. House (16-11).

"That would really set up a monopoly and many of these issues that we talked about would then have the prospect of really moving forward," said Pavelka. "Kind of on a fast pace because we would have a Republican legislature. That would be a really interesting setup for us, as a state."