STORY: A slew of primaries and special elections across the U.S. Thursday settled battles within parties, and set the stage for polls in November, including who will challenge Florida’s polarizing governor, Ron DeSantis.
Democrats there chose Charlie Crist, a House lawmaker who has already served one term as governor – then, as a Republican before he defected to the Democrats.
Crist has portrayed himself as a candidate ready to unify the state after DeSantis' focus on culture war issues, including LGBTQ rights.
“When I'm honored, when I am honored to be your governor again, we'll build a Florida that is a Florida for all. For all of us. Together we will restore our precious freedoms that Ron DeSantis is taking away. On day one of my administration, I will sign an executive order protecting a woman's right to choose."”
Despite DeSantis’ high national profile and high ratings, he’s seen as vulnerable in November.
He's also seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, and Democrats hope they can derail any White House bid by denying him reelection in Florida.
However, recent polling data shows DeSantis leading Crist by several percentage points.
Florida Democrats also chose Val Demings to take on Marco Rubio for his Senate seat.
Though tracking site FiveThirtyEight shows most opinion polls have Rubio leading Demings by several points to double digits.
Meanwhile Democrat Pat Ryan won out in a hard-fought special race in Upstate New York for a seat in the House.
Ryan’s campaign focused on abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down Roe v Wade, while his opponent Marc Molinaro focused on inflation -
A race that took on national importance as a testing bed for the parties’ dueling strategies.
It may help boost Democrat’s hopes going into a tough midterm election on November 8, that will determine the balance of power heading into 2024.
Republicans are favored to take the House, but the Senate’s been cast into doubt as candidates backed by former President Trump lost in Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.