Ex-Republican Crist wins Democratic nod to oppose DeSantis for Florida governor

US Representative Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor of Florida, emerged on Tuesday as the Democrat who will try to unseat sitting Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in the November general election.

Voters cast ballots in state primaries in Florida, New York and Oklahoma to choose party nominees for the Nov. 8 midterm elections, which will determine the balance of power in the House of Representatives and Senate in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.

New York also held the first competitive congressional election since the Supreme Court overturned national abortion rights.

Crist, 66, who drew endorsements from Democratic leaders including US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, bested state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Edison Research projected. With 78% of the vote counted, Crist had 59.1% vs. 35.4% for Fried.

A longtime DeSantis critic in state politics, Fried had sought to rally support as a candidate intent on protecting abortion rights after the Supreme Court in June overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

Crist, who served a single term as a Republican Florida governor, portrayed himself as a candidate ready to unify the state after DeSantis' focus on culture war issues, including LGBTQ rights.

Recent polling data shows DeSantis leading Crist by several percentage points.

Meanwhile, Val Demings, another House Democrat, will square off against Republican Marco Rubio in Florida's Senate race, after defeating three rivals in the state's Democratic primary election, according to a projection by Edison Research. With 77% of the vote in, Demings had just under 85% of the vote.

Most opinion polls show Rubio leading Demings by several points to double digits, according to the tracking website

DeSantis, widely viewed as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, and Rubio, a former presidential hopeful, had no primary opponents.

In a Republican Senate primary run-off in Oklahoma, U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin beat former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon for the party nomination to replace retiring Senator Jim Inhofe, Edison projected. With 32% of the vote in, Edison said Mullin defeated Shannon by 66.6% to 33.4%.

Mullin and Shannon are both loyalists of former President Donald Trump and the winner will likely succeed to office in November.

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