More Than 100 Female Candidates Won in Florida's Primaries

This year, record numbers of women across Florida are mounting campaigns for office, most of them progressives motivated by anti-Trump fervor and emboldened by the Women's March. The so-called Pink Wave had its first real test Tuesday, Primary Day. And the early returns suggest the wave is real.

By New Times' count, 104 of 148 major-party female candidates for state Senate, state House, and U.S. House won their primaries yesterday and will continue to November's general election. Eighty-one of them are Democrats.

Here's how it breaks down: Thirty women ran to represent Florida in the U.S. House. Of those, 12 won in 24 contested races, and 11 of the 12 who did not win lost to other female candidates. Another six women won unopposed, bringing the total number of women heading into the general election in House races to 18.

The winners include Palm Beach Gardens attorney and former Obama administration official Lauren Baer, who defeated attorney Pam Keith to challenge Republican Rep. Brian Mast this fall. If elected, Baer would become the first congresswoman in a same-sex marriage.

At the state level, there were 95 major-party female candidates for the Florida House. Nineteen won in 45 contested races, with 11 losing to other women. An additional 48 were unopposed, so 67 women will continue on to the general election in state House races.

Mary Barzee Flores is challenging Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. She was unopposed in the primary.
Mary Barzee Flores is challenging Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. She was unopposed in the primary.
Photo by Michael Campina

Among the winners: Cindy Polo, a mom who decided to run after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and proudly branded herself #notapolitician. She defeated Miami Dade College professor Rick Tapia to run against Republican Frank Mingo for the District 103 seat held by GOP Rep. Manny Diaz.

Also victorious was Dotie Joseph, a graduate of Yale and Georgetown Law who formerly served as North Miami Beach deputy city attorney. She beat out incumbent Roy Hardemon and immigration consultant Joseph Beauvil. Dotie, who will be highly favored to win over Libertarian Riquet Caballero, would join the ranks of female lawmakers of color in Tally.

For the state Senate, there were 21 female Republican or Democratic candidates. Two won in three contested races, and two lost to other women. Another 16 were unopposed in the primary, totaling 18 female candidates going into November. 

They include Kayser Enneking, a Gainesville anesthesiologist who won an unexpectedly nasty primary battle against activist and former teacher Olysha Magruder in District 8. Magruder, who ran on a farther-left platform, was backed in dark-money ads tied to GOP leaders. The Democratic Party is banking on Enneking to prevail over incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry to turn the seat blue — a key race in the party's plan to flip the Senate.

In other Florida Primary Day results, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham lost her bid for Democratic gubernatorial nominee in an upset by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Former judge Ashley Moody bested Frank White in the Republican primary for attorney general.

State Sen. Denise Grimsley lost to state Rep. Matt Caldwell in the Republican primary for agriculture commissioner. Meanwhile, attorney and medical marijuana lobbyist Nikki Fried beat Democratic rivals Homestead Mayor Jeffrey Duane Porter and environmental activist Roy David Walker.

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