2012 elections review: Handful of incumbents defeated in Florida primaries

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August 15, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The primary season continued with elections in Florida yesterday.

Here's what happened in primaries for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, State House, and State Senate yesterday.

Contested Primaries in Florida -- August 14, 2012
U.S. House
(27 seats)
State Legislature
(160 seats)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 8 (14.81%) 31 (19.38%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 11 (20.37%) 48 (30.00%)


U.S. House

United States House of Representatives elections in Florida, 2012

Heading into the election, the Republican Party held 19 of the 25 Congressional seats from Florida. However, the state gained two seats after the 2010 census and will elect 27 representatives.

Florida had a total of 27 seats on the ballot in 2012. A total of 88 candidates filed to run, made up of 30 Democratic challengers, 35 Republican challengers, and 23 incumbents. A total of 387 U.S. House seats have held primaries. Thus far, 55.43% of possible primaries have been contested. Florida's contested figure of 35.19% (19 out of 54 possible party primaries) is less competitive than the national average.

23 incumbents are running for re-election in 2012, with 15 of them not facing any primary opposition. The 8 incumbents who faced opposition in the primary were Cliff Stearns in the 3rd District, Ander Crenshaw in the 4th District, incumbents John L. Mica and Sandy Adams are facing off in the 7th District, C.W. Bill Young in the 13th District, Tom Rooney in the 17th District, Allen West in the 18th District, and Frederica S. Wilson in the 24th District. All incumbents except Cliff Stearns of the 3rd District defeated their primary challengers yesterday. The 3rd District Republican race is too close to call until official election results become available.[1][2]

Incumbent Cliff Stearns's bid for re-election on the Republican ticket came to an end yesterday. Stearns conceded the race to Yoho, who had 34.4 percent of the vote to Stearns's 33.1 percent in a four-candidate field for the Republican nomination yesterday.[3] Yoho was leading by just 829 votes,[1] and provisional ballots and overseas absentee ballots could have possibly reduced Yoho's lead, or maybe even reversed the outcome.[2] Yoho's margin stood at 1.3 percent, outside the 0.5-percent margin that Florida law sets for an automatic recount.[2]

Stearns, who previously had a history of winning his bids for re-election with almost 60 percent or more of the vote, had been the favorite to win his primary, outspending Yoho and several other Republican challengers in the primary.[4]

This was the first election using new district maps based on 2010 Census data.[5] On March 30, 2012, the National Journal released a list of the top ten most contorted congressional districts, as a result of redistricting.[6] The 14th District was included in the list.[6]

The Washington Post listed Florida as 1 of the 10 states that could have determined whether Democrats retook the House or Republicans held their majority in 2013.[7] Florida ranked 1st on the list.[7]

According to the New York Times race ratings in July 2012, seven of the 27 districts were considered to be in play. Those were the 2nd, 9th, 10th, 16th, 18th, 22nd, and 26th districts.[8]

Sandy Adams and John Mica were both drawn into the 7th District. Mica’s current district made up 72 percent of the redrawn 6th District. Adams currently represents just over half of the 7th District.[9] Mica defeated Sandy Adams in the Republican primary between the two incumbents, and is heavily favored to win in the general election in November.[9][1]

Incumbent Vern Buchanan, who is seeking re-election in the updated 16th District, reportedly raised more than $330,000 since April 1, according to a July 16, 2012, article. However, almost half has been spent on a required refund of past illegal campaign donations, payments to attorneys dealing with four federal investigations and expenses for other court-related expenses.[10] Buchanan ran unopposed in the Republican primary yesterday and will face Keith Fitzgerald (Democratic) in the general election on November 6.

U.S. Senate

United States Senate elections in Florida, 2012

On the Democratic ticket, incumbent Bill Nelson faced a primary challenge from candidate Glenn Burkett. Nelson defeated Burkett to advance to the general election as the Democratic nominee. However, a significant number of Republican candidates ran for the Republican nomination, in hopes of winning Nelson's seat in the general election. U.S. Representative Connie Mack, Mike McCalister, Marielena Stuart, and Dave Weldon all ran for the nomination.[11] Connie Mack defeated his opponents for the nomination, and will face incumbent Bill Nelson in the general election on November 6, 2012.[1] The race between Mack and Bill Nelson is predicated as being one of the most hotly contested Senate races of the year.[12]

According to some reports, nearly $9 million has already been spent by the candidates in preparation for the general election match-up.[12]

Connie Mack received the endorsement of 1st District Representative Jeff Miller prior to the primary election.[13] Former Governor Charlie Crist confirmed support for Democrat Bill Nelson’s re-election bid against Republican Representative Connie Mack IV on August 1, 2012.[14] Not only did Crist announce that he planned to donate to Nelson, but he said he'd also appear at an August 1 fundraiser for the incumbent, headlined by former President Bill Clinton.[14]

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics published an article called Sabato's Crystal Ball on March 22, 2012, detailing the 8 races in the Senate in 2012 that will decide the political fate of which party will end up with control in 2013.[15] The Senate seat in Florida is the toss up state ranked second in likelihood of ending up Democratic, behind New Mexico's Senate seat.[15] Incumbent Bill Nelson's mediocre approval rating is the reasoning behind the "toss-up" classification of the Senate seat, but Nelson is expected to gain Democratic support in time for the election in 2012.[15] Nelson is also expected to face significant opposition from Connie Mack, U.S. representative from the 14th District, in the general election on November 6, 2012.[15]

Members of the U.S. House from Florida -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 6 10
     Republican Party 19 17
Total 25 27

State legislature

Florida State Senate elections, 2012 and Florida House of Representatives elections, 2012

There are 160 total legislative seats with elections in 2012 -- 40 Senate seats and 120 House seats.

There were 31 (19.38%) contested Democratic primaries and 48 (30.00%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there were 79 (24.69%) races tomorrow with at least two candidates on the ballot. The 24.69% figure of total contested primaries in Florida is higher than the current national contested average of 19.38% for states that have had filing deadlines.


Heading into the election, the Republican Party holds the majority in the Florida State Senate.

There are 40 Florida State Senators. In 2012, 9 who are current members, or 22.5% of the total senate seats, will be ineligible to run for the senate again in November. Of them, 2 are Democratic state senators and 7 are Republican state senators. The 10 current members of the state senate who will be ineligible to run for re-election are: Democrats Gary Siplin and Larcenia Bullard and Republicans Dennis Jones, Evelyn Lynn, J.D. Alexander, Michael Bennett, Mike Fasano, Paula Dockery, and Stephen Wise.

Republican Party District 22: Florida House incumbents Jeff Brandes Approveda and James C. Frishe faced off for the Republican nomination. No Democratic candidates filed to run for election, but Brandes will face Raymond Alan Baker, a write-in, in the November 6 general election.
Republican Party District 24: The primary battle between candidates Tom Lee Approveda and Rachel Burgin for the nomination had become fairly intense, with each having ethics complaints filed against them going into the primary. Two Carrollwood residents filed an ethics complaint on August 8, 2012, alleging Tom Lee omitted assets from his personal financial disclosure form.[16] Lee said the complaint is wrong, insisting he reported all his assets properly on the form and that the complaint looks like "retaliation" against him by supporters of his opponent.[16] In July 2012 a Valrico lawyer accused Lee's competitor, Rachel Burgin, of directing donations to a political committee responsible for an attack mailer aimed at Lee.[17] Burgin denied the allegations.[17] Lee will go on to face Elizabeth Belcher (D) in the general election.
Republican Party District 25: Candidates Melanie Peterson Approveda and Geoffrey Sommers faced off in the District 25 Republican primary. Peterson received endorsements from South Florida Tea Party, NorthPAC, the NRA, the Palm Beach Post, Personhood FL ProLife PAC, United Christians of Florida, as well as several local and regional individuals and organizations.[18]
Democratic Party District 27: Florida House incumbents Jeff Clemens Approveda and Mack Bernard faced off for the Democratic nomination. No Republican candidates filed to run for election, but Clemens will face Travis Genard Harris (I) in the November 6 general election.
Democratic Party District 39: The open seat brought a number of Democratic candidates running for the nomination. Dwight Bullard Approveda, James Bush III, Ron Saunders, John Johnson, and Sal Gutierrez all faced off for the Democratic nomination. Bullard moves on to face Scott Hopes (R) in the general election.


Heading into the election, the Republican Party holds the majority in the Florida House of Representatives.

There are 120 representatives in the Florida House of Representatives. 12 of them, or 10%, are termed-out in 2012. Of these 12, 2 are Democratic and 10 are Republican. Florida state representatives whose seats are up for election in 2012 but who are unable to run because of the state's term limits are:

Democrats (2):

Republicans (10):

Democratic PartyRepublican Party District 7: The open seat has drawn a significant amount of competition in both primaries. Candidates Thomas Dickens, Robert Hill Approveda, and A.J. Smith ran for the Democratic nomination. On the Republican ticket, four candidates, Halsey Beshears Approveda, Jamey Westbrook, Mike Williams, and Don Curtis, all ran for the nomination.
Republican Party District 36: Four Republican candidates faced off in the primary for both the nomination and the district seat itself. Mike Fasano Approveda, Michael Kennedy, James Mathieu, and Joseph Antimo Verola all ran on the Republican ticket. Because no Democratic candidates filed to run, Fasano will face no general election competition.
Democratic Party District 46: Five Democratic candidates faced off in the primary for both the nomination and the district seat itself. Rosalind B. Johnson, Pam Powell, Bruce Antone Approveda, Jason Henry, and Sean Bradford all ran on the Democratic ticket. Because no Republican candidates filed to run, Antone will face no general election competition.
Republican Party District 76: Three Republican candidates ran to decide the fate of the district seat. Michael Grant, Ray Rodrigues Approveda, and Chauncey Solinger all ran on the Republican ticket. Rodrigues will face no opposition in the general election and is therefore basically guaranteed the district seat.
Democratic Party District 81: Incumbent Steven Perman, elected in 2010, was defeated by primary opponent Kevin Rader Approveda. Rader will move on to challenge James Ryan O'Hara (R) in the general election.
Democratic Party District 107: Two incumbents, John Patrick Julien, who first assumed office in 2010, and Barbara Watson Approveda, who first assumed office in 2011, are faced off in the Democratic primary. No Republican candidates filed to run in the general election. However, Watson will face two Independent candidates, Janice Denise Rhymes and Vickie Renee Williams, in the general election.
Republican Party District 116: Two incumbents, Jose Felix Diaz Approveda and Ana Rivas Logan, who both assumed office in 2010, battled for the Republican nomination. No Democratic candidates filed to run for election, but two independent candidates, Javier Daire and Maria Elisa Mena, will challenge Diaz in the general election.

Florida State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 12 14
     Republican Party 28 26
Total 40 40

Florida House of Representatives
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 38 46
     Republican Party 81 '74
     Vacancy 1 0
Total 120 120

See also

Ballotpedia News


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 AP Results, "U.S. House Election Results" accessed August 14, 2012
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named politico
  3. Politico, "Cliff Stearns concedes in GOP primary," August 14, 2012
  4. Politico, "Incumbents hit hard in Florida primary" accessed August 15, 2012
  5. Florida 2012 Redistricting Map, "Map" accessed July 5, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 National Journal, "Modern Gerrymanders: 10 Most Contorted Congressional Districts—MAPS," accessed March 31, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 Washington Post, "The 10 states that will determine control of the House in 2012," accessed April 25, 2012
  8. New York Times, "House Race Ratings," accessed July 25, 2012
  9. 9.0 9.1 Roll Call, "Race Ratings: Florida Offers Democrats Chances at Pickups" accessed February 28, 2012
  10. Herald Tribune, "Buchanan legal expenses weigh on campaign funding" accessed July 18, 2012
  11. Florida Elections Division, "Candidate List," accessed August 12, 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 Channel 6 News Online, "Wisconsin Florida Connecticut all Senate races to watch" accessed August 15, 2012
  13. Roll Call, "Jeff Miller Endorses Connie Mack IV for Senate" accessed July 5, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 Tampa Bay Online, "Charlie Crist backing Bill Nelson in Senate race" accessed August 3, 2012
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Center for Politics, "Tilting the Toss Ups – the Eight Races That Will Decide the Senate" accessed April 9, 2012
  16. 16.0 16.1 Tampa Bay Online, "2 residents file ethics complaint against senate candidate Tom Lee" accessed August 8, 2012
  17. 17.0 17.1 Tampa Bay Times, "In nasty east Hillsborough race, now both Lee and Burgin face ethics complaints" accessed August 8, 2012
  18. Vote Melanie, "Endorsements," accessed August 8, 2012