Shalala wins, flipping House seat to Democrats

Donna Shalala, ex-Cabinet secretary for President Bill Clinton, wins US House seat in Florida.png
Posted at 9:25 PM, Nov 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-06 19:12:28-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on Election Day in Florida (all times local):

8:25 p.m.

Former U.S. Cabinet secretary Donna Shalala has won election to a House seat in Florida, flipping it into the Democratic column for the first time in decades.

Shalala defeated Republican former television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar on Tuesday in the Miami area's 27th District. It's the first foray into elective politics for the 77-year-old Shalala, who was President Bill Clinton's secretary of Health and Human Services throughout the 1990s.

Shalala also was president of the universities of Wisconsin and Miami and headed the Clinton Foundation from 2015-2017.

The district has long been represented by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, but has trended Democratic in recent years.

Salazar is a 56-year-old Cuban-American. She had sought to capitalize on the district's strong Hispanic presence and cast Shalala as past her prime.


8:25 p.m.

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.


7:45 p.m.

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.


7:45 p.m.

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.


7:45 p.m.

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.


7:30 p.m.

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.


7:30 p.m.

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.


7:30 p.m.

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.


7:30 p.m.

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.


7:30 p.m.

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.


7:30 p.m.

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.


7:30 p.m.

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.


6:45 p.m.

A line of thunderstorms is disrupting the election-night celebration of Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum.

The Tallahassee mayor decided to hold his election-night party outside on the campus of Florida A&M University. Both Gillum and his wife attended the historic black university.

The heavy rain caused by the storm forced the evacuation of a news media tent because it was collapsing due to the stream of rain pounding down on it.

Gillum supporters and reporters crammed into a student cafeteria as lightning flashed and the rain continued to pour down.

Those backing Gillum, however, remained upbeat and continued to chant Gillum's slogan "Bring it home" as the thunderstorm continued.

Gillum is running against Republican Ron DeSantis in the race to succeed Gov. Rick Scott.


5:20 p.m.

A Florida church that is hosting a polling place is being criticized by election officials after its pastor posted a sign reading "Don't vote for Democrats on Tuesday and sing 'Oh How I Love Jesus' on Sunday."

Pasco County Elections Supervisor Brian Corley told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday that his office had received 75 complaints about the sign by midafternoon. He said that he asked the Grace of God Church in New Port Richey to take down the sign, but because it is not within 100 feet (30 meters) of the actual polling place he can't force its removal.

The Rev. Al Carlisle said he posted the sign because of the Democratic Party's support of abortion and gay rights. He also said Democrats favor open borders, which he said contradicts God's establishment of borders around the Garden of Eden. He said if people are offended by the sign, their problem is with God, not him.

Corley said the church has long been a polling place but it will not be in the future.


4:15 p.m.

Election officials say polling places in one north Florida county are having trouble with their electronic poll books.

Alachua County Supervisor of Elections spokesman T.J. Pyche says electronic poll books were having intermittent issues on Tuesday, but they weren't going down at an alarming rate.

Officials say all 62 polling places in the county have paper backups available, so any voter whose registration is up to date should be able to vote as normal, even if the precinct is having trouble with the electronic poll books. Anyone whose registration wasn't showing up properly needed to vote with a provisional ballot.

For about an hour in Sarasota County on Tuesday morning, workers at one precinct had to tell voters to come back later because their ballots were not available.


11:55 a.m.

Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and his wife Casey voted early Tuesday morning in Ponte Vedra Beach.

A small crowd of supporters chanted, "We want Ron!" He shook hands and thanked supporters before he and his wife, holding their children Madison and Mason, went into the polling place.

DeSantis faces challenger Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in a race that could help determine whether the U.S. Senate stays in Republican control.


11:35 a.m.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and his wife R. Jai voted Tuesday morning at a church in the northside of the city. As he left the polling place, a crowd gathered outside chanting, "Bring it home!"

"I tried to look over to see what she was doing," Gillum said of his wife while holding their 1-year-old son Davis.

"I voted for you," she replied.

Gillum talked about how he tried to keep his campaign positive despite attacks from former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump.

He said that winning "will send a message to Mr. Trump, and Mr. DeSantis as well, that the politics of hatred of division and separation, that they've come to an end. At least in this election."

He added that "people are going out and they're voting for something and not against. And by voting for something we're returning to the politics of decency and what's right and what's common between all of us."


11:25 a.m.

More than 5.2 million voters cast ballots ahead of Election Day in the battleground state, and records show that Democrats have a slight edge.

New statistics released Tuesday by the state Division of Elections show that more than 2.7 million people voted early, and nearly 2.5 million people have voted by mail.

Democrats have cast more than 2.1 million ballots. Republicans have cast 2.08 million. More than 973,000 voters with no party affiliation have also voted.

This year's totals far exceed those of 2014 midterms, but are still short of the 6.6 million who voted ahead of Election Day in 2016. In 2014, Republicans edged Democrats in votes cast before Election Day, while Democrats led two years ago in the presidential election. Despite the edge from Democrats in 2016, President Donald Trump won Florida due to a surge of GOP voters on Election Day.

Florida's more than 13 million registered voters are choosing a new governor and voting on a pivotal U.S. Senate contest.


8:13 a.m.

Polls opened quietly at Miami Beach City Hall, where a short line of people waited to cast ballots.

Among the first in line Tuesday morning was Greg Freeman, who took a red-eye flight from the West Coast to make sure he could vote in his Miami Beach district on Election Day.

Freeman had a list of things that mattered to him as he cast a ballot in the gubernatorial race between former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. He cited health care, the ability to tell the truth and human decency.

Freeman voted for Gillum. He said health care is a priority for him because of a pre-existing medical condition. He's already seen his insurance premiums sky-rocket and says he doesn't "want to be in a high-risk pool."

In Little Havana, 34-year-old Enrique Tarrio says he chose DeSantis because the businesses he owns have flourished under Republican Gov. Rick Scott. He says DeSantis is "picking up where Rick Scott left off."


7:05 a.m.

Voters in Florida are electing a U.S. senator, a new governor and several new members of Congress while also deciding whether to approve 12 proposed changes to the state's constitution.

Polls opened Tuesday morning in Florida's Eastern time zone and will open one hour later in the western portion of the Florida Panhandle, which is in the Central time zone. Polls close at 7 p.m. local time.

The choice between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and three-term incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson could help determine whether the U.S. Senate stays in Republican control.

Many voters took advantage of early voting, which ended Sunday. As of Monday morning, Democrats had a slight advantage of 2.06 million to 2.04 million in votes cast by mail or at early-voting sites.

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