Aug 24, 2022

2022 Florida Primary wrap-up Transcript

2022 Florida Primary wrap-up Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsFlorida2022 Florida Primary wrap-up Transcript

Charlie Crist will face Ron DeSantis in November; Val Demings triumphs as Democratic senate candidate to square off against Marco Rubio. Read the transcript here.

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Chris Shaw: (00:00)
… much. Okay. So the time right now is 6:02. That means, in a little more than two hours, congressman Charlie Crist will be back on the campaign trail in St. Pete.

Lisa Greenberg: (00:08)
It will be his first stop since winning the democratic primary for governor. Fox 4’s, Ryan Kruger, is with the congressman as he sets his site on governor DeSantis.

Ryan Kruger: (00:18)
It was an early night for the Crist campaign. It was shortly before 8:30 when the former Republican governor, turned current Democratic congressman, declared victory over democratic rival, agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried. Now the race turns to November against governor Ron DeSantis and his $130 million campaign war chest. In front of his supporters here at the Hilton and downtown St. Pete, the governor repeated a campaign promise that he has been making in recent days where he says, if he’s elected on day one, he will sign an executive order to protect abortion rights in the sunshine state. He also hammered home his plans for increasing affordable housing, calling it a crisis, but it all comes back to governor Ron DeSantis. Crist says DeSantis is simply too focused on eventually running for the White House and therefore he’s vulnerable come November.

Charlie Crist: (01:05)
This is the most consequential race in the history of our state. And when we win in November, we will send shockwaves across this country.

Ryan Kruger: (01:14)
Crist also took time to thank his democratic opponent, agricultural commissioner, Nikki Fried. He said Fried fought the good fight and that they share the same values. Crist also said, if he’s elected, he will reinstate Tampa Bay prosecutor Andrew Warren. Of course, Warren was suspended by governor Ron DeSantis after Warren said he would not prosecute the state’s 15-week abortion ban. In St. Pete, I’m Ryan Kruger, Fox 4.

Chris Shaw: (01:39)
And Ryan, governor Ron DeSantis will also hit the campaign trail today. He’ll make three different stops starting this morning in Seminole County. Now, he wasn’t on the primary ballot, but he had a watch party last night in Hialeah. And he promised the largest Republican voter turnout in state history in November because of issues like this.

Ron DeSantis: (01:59)
At the end of the day, we’re not going to let this state be overrun by woke ideology. We will fight the woke in the businesses, we will fight the woke in government agencies, we will fight the woke in our schools. We will never ever surrender to the woke agenda. Florida is the state where woke goes to die.

Chris Shaw: (02:24)
And we will hear a lot about the DeSantis/Crist race over the next two months, but consider one detail as they get started this morning. The governor has more than $132 million to spend in the race. And right now, Crist has about 2 million. Nikki Fried tells Fox 4, she will endorse Charlie Crist for governor now that she is out of the race.

Lisa Greenberg: (02:47)
She lost the primary by more than 24 percentage points. Fox 4 anchor, Shari Armstrong, spoke to Fried in Fort Lauderdale.

Shari Armstrong: (02:55)
Cleared out and quiet. This was clearly not the result the Fried campaign or Fried supporters even wanted. However, we still saw about 100 people trickle into this venue here in Fort Lauderdale, continuing to show their support for our state’s agriculture commissioner. And when she took the stage, she announced that she had called Charlie Crist, congratulating him, and she also called for the unification of the democratic party.

Nikki Fried: (03:19)
We gave women of our state hope and inspiration. That is not going to change.

Shari Armstrong: (03:24)
I want to be clear here, for the most part spirits were pretty high here at this venue tonight, but of course, we saw a few tears, including from the 13-year-old girl on stage standing behind Nikki Fried. We later learned that was her niece, Ella, and her family tells me that she was very excited, really wanted Nikki to win, and of course that didn’t happen. She was very disappointed, but she looks up to Nikki a lot and she hopes to be like her. That’s what her family tells me. Now, of course, you might wonder what comes next for Nikki Fried. She says, she’s going to keep doing her job. She’s going to keep going to work. And as far as running for governor again, she says that’s yet to be determined. In Fort Lauderdale, Shari Armstrong, Fox 4.

Chris Shaw: (04:04)
All right, Shari. Thank you. Now let’s move on to the U.S. Senate race, a race that’s suddenly attracting a lot of national attention and national money.

Lisa Greenberg: (04:11)
Central Florida Congresswoman, Val Demings, easily won her primary. So she will take on Senator Marco Rubio. Fox 4’s, Calvin Lewis is live in studio with us this morning. And Calvin, these two have known for weeks that they would likely face off and they came out attacking.

Calvin Lewis: (04:27)
Yeah. They both spoke last night. And we got a peak at how this election will shape up. Marco Rubio painted Val Demings, the congresswoman and former Orlando police chief, as someone who has done little in her time in Congress. Now he said, “She’s a tool for liberals who are out of touch with most Americans.”

Marco Rubio: (04:44)
She’s been there for six years and she’s voted with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time. 100%. I don’t even think Nancy Pelosi has voted with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time. So they hand pick her. Why do they hand pick her? Because Chuck Schumer says, “I need someone I can count on 100% of the time to do whatever I tell them.”

Calvin Lewis: (05:07)
Now Rubio said, if he gets reelected, he’ll work to get a Republican president elected in two years, get America back to where it needs to be. Now that America is what Val Demings rallied against in her speech without mentioning Rubio. She talked about saving social security and Medicare, making sure public education is as good as it can be and protecting a woman’s right to choose. She said her candidacy is about moving forward.

Val Demings: (05:34)
There are women and men, and people of all races and ages who suffered, bled and died for us to have the constitutional rights that we enjoy. We’re not going back to being treated like second class citizens. We’re not going back to being treated like property.

Calvin Lewis: (06:00)
Now a democratic organization announced yesterday that it will raise money for Demings and for other candidates who it believes can flip Republican-held Senate seats. Now it’s a sign along with some recent polls that show this race could be tight, and there will be a lot of national attention on it. For now, reporting live in the studio, Calvin Lewis, Fox 4.

Lisa Greenberg: (06:22)
Thank you, Calvin. Now let’s take a look at some other results from the primary, starting with the US House. Republican Greg Steube, of the 17th district, which includes Charlotte County and Lehigh Acres, had no primary opponent this election. But in three Republican primaries in our Southwest Florida counties, all incumbents won. Byron Donald’s got 84% of the votes in Florida’s 19th district. He represents most of Collier and Lee Counties. In Florida’s 18th district, a redrawn district covering DeSoto, Glades and Hendry Counties, Scott Franklin easily won as he’s trying for a second term. And in Florida’s 26th district, covering Eastern Collier County, 10-term Congressman, Mario Diaz-Balard from Miami Dade, had an easy primary win.

Chris Shaw: (07:06)
Well, Governor Ron DeSantis may have been the biggest winner in the primary and he wasn’t even on the ballot. You see, he endorsed 30 school board candidates across the state, and 25 of them won. That includes a candidate in Lee County. Fox 4’s, Caitlin [inaudible 00:07:22], shows us the results and the governor’s influence.

Caitlin: (07:25)
Governor Ron DeSantis endorsed several school board candidates, including three right here in Southwest Florida, two in Lee County and one in Hendry. About an hour and a half after polls closed, as DeSantis claimed his primary victory in Miami, he reiterated part of the message he used to promote the candidates he endorsed.

Ron DeSantis: (07:42)
… teaching him to read, write, add, subtract, all the important subjects, not trying to jam woke gender ideology down their throat, not trying to do divisive rhetoric like CRT, that’s teaching kids to hate each other and hate our country.

Caitlin: (07:59)
And one DeSantis endorsed candidate who’s echoed that message is Lee County candidate, Armor Persons. He’s beaten incumbent Gwynetta Gittens. She currently holds the district five seat. As we take a look at the numbers, Persons won the race with 55% of the vote. His campaign’s centered on teacher retention, school safety, opposing critical race theory, and what he called, “Gender issues.”

Caitlin: (08:20)
Heading over to district one, two candidates will head to the November ballot. DeSantis endorsed, Sam Fisher, will face Kathy Fanny. Fisher’s focus on parents being heard, cutting administration budgets and raising teacher pay, while Fanny’s top priority is better financial support for schools. District four, a very close race here, that will also head to the general election. Dan Severson is a few hundred votes ahead of incumbent and a current board chair, Debbie Jordan. Severson is a former Minnesota representative who has pushed to remove critical race theory.

Caitlin: (08:50)
Charlie Crist has endorsed Jordan, who says if she’s reelected, she’ll continue to meet the needs of all students. In [inaudible 00:08:57] Lee county, we have district six. Jada Fleming is ahead of Denise Nystrom by 3,000 votes. No one has majority, so it will head to the November ballot.

Caitlin: (09:05)
Now let’s head on south to Collier County. All the races there will go to the November election. Jerry Rutherford is ahead of Jory Westberry by 11%. Westberry is the board’s vice chair at the moment. District three, Kelly Lichter is beating current school board president, Jen Mitchell. Lichter is close to 50%, but not there quite yet. And Timothy Moshier for district five is winning against Roy Terry, who is also a current board member and that race is 40% of the vote. So again, not quite to 50.

Caitlin: (09:36)
The last race we’re keeping an eye on is in Hendry County. Stephanie Busin is endorsed by Governor Ron DeSantis. It’s an extremely tight race here now between Busin and Joe Whitehead, only separated by 31 votes. Busin is close to hitting the 50% threshold to win that seat. Now keep in mind, this is just the first official unofficial results. Lee County says, “All 99 precincts have reported all of their ballots. So at this point really, it’s just a matter of counting absentee ballots. Reporting in studio Caitlin [inaudible 00:10:08], Fox 4.

Chris Shaw: (10:09)
And we wanted a little more perspective on the governor’s impact on the primary, so we went to FGCU professor, Sandra Pavelka.

Sandra Pavelka: (10:17)
That was very impressive, in terms of how DeSantis had that pull and that edge. And that was able to bring those otherwise unknown candidates, who had really never run for election before, into the race and as winners.

Chris Shaw: (10:33)
She also told us, the voter turnout, which was about 30%, is average for a Florida primary. You can see all the primary results from school board races to state offices right now on Just click on primary elections at the top of the page.

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