FLORIDA — U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has won the Democratic nomination to face Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
Murphy defeated fiery liberal Rep. Alan Grayson on Tuesday, aided by the backing of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Murphy appeared confident in the final weeks of the election, virtually ignoring Grayson and focusing instead on Rubio.
“I am honored to earn the Democratic nomination to be Florida's next U.S. Senator,” said Murphy in a statement released Tuesday night.
Murphy was first elected to the House in 2012, defeating incumbent tea party conservative Allen West.
While Grayson has more consistently voted for Democratic priorities and Obama's agenda, many party leaders thought he was unelectable because of his brash demeanor.
While Grayson has more consistently voted for Democratic priorities and Obama's agenda, many party leaders thought he was unelectable because of his brash demeanor and domestic issues that have put him in the spotlight.
“We have a choice. We can have the voters choosing the candidate or we can have the party bosses choosing the candidates,” said Grayson. “And in this case, the party bosses went all out to choose their candidate here in Florida, and they won.”
Grayson’s camp said the representative will not support Murphy.
Grayson said he doesn’t believe Murphy is a true democrat.
Meanwhile, Grayson's wife was in a crowded field for a spot on the House District 9 ballot.
In the end, state Sen. Darren Soto pulled it out ahead of Dena Grayson and Susannah Randolph.
Soto has spent 10 years in Tallahassee, but Grayson gave up his seat he decided to try a run for Washington.
Soto said if he wins in November, his No. 1 priority will be high paying jobs, especially for people in central Florida.
Murphy has criticized Rubio as caring more about his political ambitions then his constituents, while Republicans have criticized Murphy for embellishing his resume and lack of experience.
Sen. Marco Rubio has earned the support of Florida's Republican voters to seek a second term, a decision he made at the last minute after his failed presidential bid.
“Patrick Murphy is nothing more than an old fashioned liberal and his ideas that he stands for are wrong for Florida. They are dangerous and they will leave us vulnerable as a people and as a nation,” said Rubio. “And so you may ask yourself, well, how can Patrick Murphy who has don’t nothing in his probate life to be successful and done nothing in his four years of Congress which he’ll have to answer for? How can someone with that kind of record think he can be elected to the U.S. Senate? And the answer is, he has this sense of entitlement.”
Rubio beat millionaire developer Carlos Beruff, the only major GOP candidate to stay in the race after Rubio decided to run for re-election two days before the deadline to make the ballot. He had said for months he wouldn't run again no matter what happened in the presidential race.
Republican leaders encouraged Rubio to change his mind, seeing him as the best hope to keep his seat in GOP hands as Democrats sought to regain a majority in the Senate.
Rubio took the stage and pointed out sharp differences between him and his opponent.
He will now have to change public perception, not only from when he ran lost the presidential bid, but also the criticisms what came up while he was Senator—among them, his absence from votes while he was running for president.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Dem, beat Tim Canova, a Bernie Sanders-backed law professor, for the U.S. House, District 23, Florida seat.
In Central Florida, Val Demings won the Democratic primary for Florida's 10th Congressional District.
"I am so humbled and honored to stand on this stage tonight and be one step closer to serving Central Florida in Washington," said Demings. "The voters have decided, and I have faith they will decide again in November, that I am the leader that they want to represent them."
It’s a big win for Aramis Ayala. Ayala beat out John Ashton for State Attorney, 9th Judicial Circuit for Orange and Osceola counties.
"I'm a fighter, and at some point goodness does win. At some point, what you believe in, wholesome, what's right, what stands, can win, and I never gave up on that," said Ayala.
"The voters decided today that the price of the State Attorney's seat is $1.4 million in lies. I'm deeply disappointed in this result but stand by the good work of my office and the folks who work there," said Ashton.
Other wins include: Al Lawson, Dem, beat Corrine Brown for U.S. House District 5; Darren Soto Dem, 9th Congressional District; Linda Stewart, Dem, State Senate, District 13, Florida; Daniel Webster, GOP, U.S. House, District 11, Florida, and John Mica, GOP, U.S. House, District 7, Florida.
“Now we’ve got to get out there and meet even more people, hear what’s on their minds, and make sure we’re doing all we can to encourage others to get out and vote this November," said Lawson.
Brown has lost her battle to remain in office amid a criminal indictment and a revamped district that includes thousands of new voters.
Brown, 69, and her chief of staff pleaded not guilty to multiple fraud charges that alleged she participated in a scheme to use a phony charity as a personal slush fund.
Lawson will face Republican Glo Smith in November.
Another notable race was that of Seminole County Tax Collector Ray Valdes, who recently made headlines for an altercation he has with a political blogger.
Valdes was charged with battery for the incident.
He lost to opponent Joel Greenberg, got got 52 percent of the vote.
The polls closed at 7 p.m.
The primary also sets the field for a race that could determine whether Democrats regain control of the U.S. Senate.
More than 1.75 million Floridians had already cast ballots by mail or at early-voting stations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Cox Media Group