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Boyd Hangs On; Grayson Gets Daniel Webster

Updated: 3:37 a.m.

Correction Appended

Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) managed to hold on Tuesday night to secure his party’s nomination with just 51 percent of the vote.

Despite being outspent 10-to-1 in the 2nd district primary, state Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson gave Boyd a serious scare by taking 49 percent. The close race will only encourage Republicans, who already believed Boyd was in serious trouble before he was forced to move to the left to win the primary. The Blue Dog lawmaker will now have to work quickly to unify the Democratic electorate ahead of the general election, where he is already being targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

On the GOP side, funeral home owner Steve Southerland easily earned the right to face Boyd this fall.

In the central Florida 8th district, former state Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster (R) earned the right Tuesday to take on outspoken Rep. Alan Grayson (D) in a contest that Republicans view as one of their top takeover opportunities.

Webster won the GOP primary with 40 percent of the vote. Webster’s closest competitor was 2008 nominee Todd Long, who took 23 percent. Businessman Bruce O’Donoghue, who received early support from national party officials, finished a disappointing fifth.

Republicans are certain that Grayson has moved far to the left of his district in his quest to become a liberal champion in the House. But they’ll also have to figure out a way to deal with Grayson’s vast national fundraising network, which has helped him raise more than $3.7 million this cycle.

In the equally competitive 24th district next door, state Rep. Sandy Adams appeared to have leveraged a few key conservative endorsements, a nasty back and forth between her top primary rivals and the natural voting base provided by her state legislative district to secure the GOP nod to take on freshman Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D).

With 99 percent reporting, Adams led the five-way race with 30 percent of the vote, while Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel was in a close second with 29 percent. Businessman Craig Miller was in third with 28 percent. It was unclear whether the contest would require a recount.

Adams was heavily outspent by both Diebel and Miller in the primary, and she ranked below both candidates in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns candidate recruitment program. But Diebel and Miller battled each other while Adams collected endorsements from key conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association, the American Conservative Union and Florida Right to Life.

Adams was a deputy sheriff in Orange County for 17 years before being elected to the state House in 2002. She raised about $400,000 for her primary, but she’ll need help from the national party if she wants to compete with Kosmas. The Congresswoman had more than $1.3 million in her campaign war chest at the beginning of August.

Also in central Florida, Hernando County Sheriff Rich Nugent won the GOP nomination in the open 5th district of retiring Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R). Nugent took 62 percent to tea party activist Jason Sager’s 38 percent.

Nugent was endorsed by Brown-Waite on the same day she announced her retirement plans in late April. He went on to earn endorsements from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and several major newspapers in the area. Nugent will be favored to win the general election in November in the Republican-leaning district. He will face Democrat Jim Piccillo.

Farther south in the Democratic stronghold that is the 17th district, state Sen. Frederica Wilson (D) is all but certain to replace Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) in the House after securing her party’s nomination Tuesday night. Meek won the Democratic Senate nomination Tuesday.

Wilson received 35 percent of the vote in the nine-way contest.

Wilson, who has already followed Meek into the state House and state Senate, was considered the frontrunner in the Congressional race the day she threw her hat into the ring last year. But wealthy physician and first-time candidate Rudy Moise used his deep pockets to emerge from political obscurity to challenge Wilson in the crowded primary. Moise spent $1.4 million of his own money on the race but came in second with 16 percent.

In the race for the open 12th district seat of retiring Rep. Adam Putnam (R), Democrat Lori Edwards and Republican Dennis Ross had little trouble wrapping up their respective primaries. The same held true for frontrunners David Rivera (R) and Joe Garcia (D) in the open 25th district seat, which Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) is leaving to run in the neighboring 21st district.

Correction: Aug. 25, 2010

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Associated Press had already called the 24th district race for state Rep. Sandy Adams.

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