Battleground Florida: Key primary races to watch Tuesday in Tampa Bay


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The nominees for several key races coming up in November will be decided next week during Florida’s primary election.

There are dozens of races our political team will be keeping an eye on throughout the night, but here are some of the biggest races we’re tracking on Tuesday:

Congressional District 13: Republican Primary

A fierce Republican primary is shaping up in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. District 13 covers Pinellas County.

Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, the former governor of Florida, currently represents District 13 and is running for re-election again this year.

While Crist is not facing a primary challenger on Tuesday, there are five Republican candidates vying to become the nominee who gets to run against him in November’s election.

George Buck, Sheila Griffin, Anna Paulina Luna, Amanda Makki and Sharon Barry Newby are the five candidates Pinellas County Republicans will choose from on Tuesday. Whoever wins the primary will land on the November ballot opposite Crist.

Congressional District 15

The Republican Primary in Congressional District 15 is probably the biggest race in the Tampa Bay area next week. District 15 covers parts of Polk County and Hillsborough County.

Freshman Congressman Ross Spano, a Republican, was elected in 2018 and currently represents District 15 in the U.S. House of Representatives. But Rep. Spano is being challenged by Scott Franklin in Tuesday’s primary.

Franklin, who currently serves as a city commissioner in Lakeland, is looking to get on the ballot for voters in November and ultimately become the U.S. representative for Florida’s 15th District.

Spano’s fellow Republican Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who represents parts of Florida’s panhandle, recently visited Tampa Bay to endorse Franklin.

“I suspect the 2020 election will be one of the most consequential in our lives. And in that election we need patriots that are willing to fight,” Gaetz said.

In response, Spano highlighted several other Florida Republicans who support him, including Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Vern Buchanan, Rep. Greg Steube and Rep. Gus Bilirakis.

On the Democratic side, three candidates are vying for the nomination: Jesse Phillippe, Adam Cohn and Adam Hattersley.

Phillipe, an attorney and veteran who previously worked for the Florida Department of Children and Families and 13th Judicial District, is the only Black candidate in the race. Cohn is a former investigative journalist who won a Peabody for his work on issues with the Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter. Hattersley is currently a state representative but is leaving his seat in the Florida Legislature to shoot for Congress.

Hillsborough County Sheriff: Republican Primary

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is being challenged Tuesday by Charles Boswell – a former detective for the sheriff’s office.

Chronister was appointed sheriff by then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2017 when the previous sheriff retired. He was officially elected by voters in 2018.

While Chronister is a Republican, his primary challenger accuses him of being a “Republican in Name Only.” Boswell refers to himself as “the only conservative candidate in this race.”

Chronister is just one of several sheriffs being challenged on Tuesday.

Citrus County Sheriff Michael Prendergast is facing three challengers in a Republican primary: Patrick A. Crippen, Mel Eakley and Michael Klyap Jr.

Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis is being challenged by James K. Terry in a universal primary.

James McLynas and Eliseo Santana are facing off in a Democratic primary for Pinellas County Sheriff. Whoever wins will face Sheriff Bob Gualtieri in November.

In Sarasota County, Paul Fern and Kurt Hoffman are running in a universal primary to replace Sheriff Tom Knight, who is not seeking reelection this year.

8 On Your Side is your local election headquarters. We’re keeping you informed on the topics that matter to as we count down to the 2020 election. Watch Battleground Florida every Thursday at 1 p.m. ET.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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