Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

What to watch: Tuesday's congressional primaries in Florida, Wyoming, Alaska

A citizen casting their vote in Miami on Tuesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A citizen casting their vote in Miami on Tuesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Tuesday's primaries in Florida and Wyoming could bring more diversity to the GOP ticket with competitive races that may topple an incumbent, elevate a woman to the upper chamber and result in the nomination of a Black Republican to the House.

The big picture: The races are some of the final nominating contests in this election cycle. 2020 has seen a surge in progressive candidates winning out against moderate Democrats, and Republican anomalies, such as QAnon backers, becoming increasingly common.

  • Florida is a target for both Democrats and Republicans this year, as Axios' Margaret Talev notes that Trump's re-election must go through the state.
  • Meanwhile, Wyoming remains a near-guarantee for Republicans this November.

Of note: Alaska is also holding primary elections on Tuesday. Rep. Don Young (R) — the longest-serving member of Congress — is running for reelection while fending off a pool of Democratic challengers.

Races to watch

In Florida, the results the GOP primary will solidify who goes up against Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November in a battleground district (FL-26) that flipped from red to blue in 2018.

  • Freshman Rep. Ross Spano (R) will try to fight off primary challenges in Florida's 15th Congressional District following months of investigations over his possible campaign finance violations.
  • Spano has denied wrongdoing in the matter, claiming any errors made were "completely inadvertent and unintentional."
  • In the Republican primary, Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin has hammered Spano as a “criminal” in campaign ads.
  • Whoever wins will face either journalist Alan Cohn or state Rep. Adam Hattersley, who are squaring off in the Democratic primary.

Four Republican candidates are in contention for southwest Florida's 19th Congressional District, including: businessman Casey Askar, state Rep. Byron Donalds, state House Majority Leader Dane Eagle and physician William Figlesthaler.

  • FL-19 is a steadily red seat that virtually ensures a win for its Republican nominee come November. The seat is made vacant by retiring Rep. Francis Rooney (R).

Florida's 3rd Congressional District also has a primary to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ted Yoho.

In Wyoming, Rep. Cynthia Lummis is the front-runner for the state's GOP Senate nomination to fill the seat vacated by outgoing GOP Sen. Mike Enzi. She served in the House from 2009-2017, and was the only woman in the House Freedom Caucus at the time, per CNN.

  • While the number of women serving in Congress is increasing, there's been a drop in the number of female GOP legislators in recent years.
  • Lummis has received endorsements from President Trump, Enzi and fellow Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso (R).
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