A liberal Florida Democrat pulled off an upset victory Tuesday in the state's primary for governor while President Trump's favored candidate cruised to victory for the GOP, setting up a fierce fall showdown in the nation's largest political battleground. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who would be the state's first black governor, and Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, both defeated opponents aligned with their parties' establishments.
President Trump hailed Tuesday's wins for the Republican party, tweeting early Wednesday "The Republican Party will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! Actually, it is happening faster than anybody thought possible! It is morphing into KEEP AMERICA GREAT!"
In Arizona, Rep. Martha McSally fended off a pair of conservative challengers to carry the Republican Senate primary to fill the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Jeff Flake. That race was shadowed by the death of John McCain, a towering figure who represented Arizona in the Senate for six terms. Gov. Doug Ducey will name McCain's replacement after the senator's funeral.
Though McCain has received praise from far and wide this week, the three Republican candidates running to replace his retiring seat-mate, Flake - including establishment favorite McSally - aligned themselves more with the president than the longtime senator.
Florida and Arizona are both closely watched states, featuring growing minority populations that have bolstered Democratic candidates and Republican electorates that have grown older and more conservative. The fall face-offs could well signal how they'll swing in the 2020 presidential election.
In Florida, DeSantis gave Mr. Trump credit for his victory, saying that with one supportive tweet, the president "kind of put me on the map." Gillum thanked supporters who embraced "our plan for a state that makes room for all of us, not just the well-heeled and the well-connected, but all of us."
The results immediately transformed the Florida race into one of the key gubernatorial campaigns in the country. Gillum's primary victory could help Democrats boost enthusiasm among minorities who often don't vote in large numbers in years when a presidential candidate isn't on the ballot. Meanwhile, DeSantis will test Mr. Trump's grip on a crucial state he won in 2016 and wants to keep in his column in 2020.
DeSantis was one of several Republicans running in contests Tuesday in Florida and Arizona - another closely watched political battleground - who hoped that cozying up to the president would be rewarded by voters. The president has thrust himself into the forefront of the midterm campaign in hopes of motivating his supporters and offsetting Democratic enthusiasm.
Elsewhere Tuesday, GOP voters in reliably Republican Oklahoma backed mortgage company owner Kevin Stitt in a runoff for the gubernatorial nomination. Stitt won in part by criticizing his opponent as insufficiently supportive of Mr. Trump.
Arizona primary results
Arizona Senate race
Representative Martha McSally, the preference of the national Republican establishment, easily won the Republican primary with 52 percent of the vote. Former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio trailed behind McSally.
Representative Kyrsten Sinema cruised to victory against her Democratic primary opponent, Deedra Abboud. National Democrats were hoping that Sinema would face Ward or Arpaio in the general election, as both of them are controversial right-wing figures considered to be more beatable. Sinema will have an uphill battle with McSally as an opponent.
Regardless of who wins in November, Arizona will be sending a woman to the Senate for the first time in state history.
Incumbent Republican Governor Doug Ducey easily dispatched his primary opponent, Ken Bennett, with 70 percent of the vote.
Democrat Doug Garcia, an educator and military veteran, won his primary against two opponents.
CBS News rates AZ-1 and AZ-2 as competitive congressional districts as Democrats seek to flip 23 Republican seats in the House this November. The 2nd Congressional District is the seat currently held by McSally, and is considered by Democrats to be a potential pickup in November.
Florida primary results
Trump-endorsed GOP Representative Ron DeSantis won the race for governor, leading opponent Adam Putnam with 56 percent to 37 percent.
Mr. Trump tweeted his congratulations to DeSantis Tuesday night.
On the Democratic side, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum won the primary with 34 percent of the vote. Gillum and Gwen Graham were considered to be frontrunners in the Democratic primary.
If elected, Gillum would be the first black governor of Florida. He was one of the most progressive candidates in the primary, and is a staunch supporter of critical left-wing issues like Medicare for All and abolishing U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Gillum was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
President Trump weighed in on Gillum's win early Wednesday, calling the nominee a "failed Socialist Mayor" who "has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city." Gillum responded back, tweeting that the president: "What our state and country needs is decency, hope, and leadership."
However, the Democratic nominee is not untouched by scandal. The FBI is currently looking into corruption at Tallahassee City Hall, although Gillum, who is the mayor of Tallahassee, has not been implicated.
For House primaries, FL-18, FL-26 and FL-27 are the races to watch for potential Democratic upsets in November. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell won the Democratic primary in FL-26, and will face Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in November. Lauren Baer won the Democratic primary in FL-18, and will face Republican Rep. Brian Mast this fall. Maria Salazar won the Republican primary in FL-27, and will face Democrat Donna Shalala.
In Florida, incumbent Senator Bill Nelson runs uncontested in the Florida Senate race.
Governor Rick Scott cruised to victory in the Republican primary. Mr. Trump also wrote a congratulatory tweet for Scott.
Recent polling shows Scott leading Nelson by a few points. An August poll by Florida Atlantic University had Scott at 44 percent and Nelson at 39 percent.
Oklahoma governor runoff
Gateway Mortgage Company founder Kevin Stitt won the gubernatorial runoff against former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett won the gubernatorial runoff against with 55 percent of the vote.
In the Libertarian primary for governor, Chris Powell quickly outpaced Rex Lawhorn, taking nearly 60 percent of the vote.
Florida primary elections - Polls are closed
This Senate seat is one of the most vulnerable for Democrats, since Scott is very popular and has wide name recognition across the state. National Democrats are concerned that Nelson, who is being heavily outspent by Scott, may not be a strong enough candidate to hold onto his seat in November.
Toxic blue-green algae has unexpectedly become a major campaign issue in the race, as the algae is polluting Florida's waterways. Both candidates have released ads on the issue.
Gun control is also a major issue in this race, particularly after the mass shooting in Parkland in February and another mass shooting in Jacksonville on Sunday. Parkland students spent the months following the shooting at their school advocating for tougher gun laws and encouraging young voters to get involved in upcoming elections. That activism will likely get stronger ahead of the November election.
DeSantis was considered a frontrunner because of support from the president. Mr. Trump held a rally for DeSantis and Scott in Florida and also tweeted his support for each candidate.
Other Republicans in the Florida governor's primary were:
- Don Baldauf
- Timothy Devine
- Bob Langford
- John Mercadante
- Bruce Nathan
- Bob White
And the Democrats are:
- Andrew Gillum
- Gwen Graham
- Jeff Greene
- Chris King
- Philip Levine
- Lundy Lundmark
- John Wetherbee
Graham is the daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham. She and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum are considered to be frontrunners in the Democratic primary.
For House primaries, FL-18, FL-26 and FL-27 are the races to watch for potential Democratic upsets in November.
Arizona primary elections - Polls are closed
McSally, a congresswoman, was the preference of the national Republican establishment. Ward, a former state senator, ran against McCain in the Republican primary in 2016. Ward is a controversial figure on the right, and recently made waves for claiming that the McCain family scheduled their announcement that McCain was no longer seeking medical treatment specifically to damage her politically. Arpaio is the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was known for using racial profiling methods as sheriff. He was pardoned by Mr. Trump in August 2017 after being convicted of criminal contempt of court.
McCain's seat will not be filled in Tuesday's primary. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will appoint a replacement after McCain is fully laid to rest.
Meanwhile, Ducey himself won re-election against Republican challenger former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett. President Trump endorsed Ducey on Twitter on Monday. "Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona is doing a great job. It would be really nice to show your support tomorrow by voting for him in Tuesdays Primary," Mr. Trump tweeted.
Voting difficulties in Maricopa County
Several polling places in Maricopa County opened hours late on Tuesday because voting machines had not been set up, according to The Associated Press. This comes two years after a reduced number of voting centers in 2016 led to voters forming long lines.
Maricopa County is the state's most populous county. County officials said that all polls were open by 11 a.m., five hours after polls opened.
Oklahoma governor runoff election - Polls are closed
Cornett and Stitt faced off against each other in Oklahoma's runoff election to replace Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who is term-limited and has a low approval rating after teacher protests earlier this year.
Cornett will face Drew Edmondson in the general election.
Stitt, who is a political outsider, attacked Cornett in an ad for not fully supporting President Trump and his administration. In a recent debate, Cornett retaliated and said Stitt is new to the political scene. Cornett also released ads indicating his support of Trump and criticizing Stitt of not being truthful about his record. Cornett's ad uses the phrase "Bull Stitt" to describe Stitt's truthfulness.
Oklahoma also has primary runoffs a few House races. There is a Republican primary runoff on the Republican side in OK-1 and runoffs on the Democratic side in OK-1, OK-2, OK-4 and OK-5. Democrats haven't held a congressional seat in Oklahoma since 2013. The most competitive runoff in Oklahoma will be the Republican primary runoff in the gubernatorial race.
CBS News' Jack Turman contributed to this report.