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Rutherford, Lawson elected to Congress

Northeast Florida voters return DeSantis, Yoho to U.S. House seats

Proposals for CongressWhile the White House says Obama won't present a laundry list of proposals for Congress, he is likely to make some requests. Those include issues that have so far been non-starters
Proposals for CongressWhile the White House says Obama won't present a laundry list of proposals for Congress, he is likely to make some requests. Those include issues that have so far been non-starters (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – North Florida voters on Tuesday elected a former sheriff and a former state senator to Congress, two of 10 new Floridians heading to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, who won a seven-way Republican primary in August, was elected to represent District 4, the seat of retiring Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw. He defeated Democrat David Bruderly on Tuesday.

"A lot of people are still recovering from damage from Hurricane Matthew, that's No. 1. Serving the constituents," Rutherford said. "Then, No. 2, is looking at our armed services, keeping our commitment to our veterans, and also looking at the port, our infrastructure."

Democrat Al Lawson was elected to represent District 5, which stretches from Jacksonville's urban core to west of Tallahassee. He defeated longtime Congresswoman Corrine Brown in the primary as she faced a federal corruption indictment. He then faced Republican Glo Smith in the general election.

"I want the people to know that this is their seat. They just hired me to do a job for them, and I plan to do a great job for them," Lawson said.

Northeast Florida voters returned Republicans Ron DeSantis and Ted Yoho to Congress. DeSantis, of Ponte Vedra Beach, defeated Democrat Bill McCullough in U.S. House District 7. Yoho, of Gainesville, defeated Democrat Ken McGurn in District 3.

In the Orlando area, political novice Stephanie Murphy, with a powerful financial push from national Democrats, including U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, ousted veteran U.S. Rep. John Mica, a Winter Park Republican who was seeking his 13th term in Congress.

Democrats targeted Mica because court-ordered redistricting had reshaped his district to include a sizable portion of Orlando, where a Democratic candidate would be favored.

Mica carried Seminole County by about 10,000 votes but lost Orange County by 20,000, resulting in a 51-49 percent election defeat.

Charlie Crist, a former one-term Republican governor who lost the 2014 governor's race as a Democrat, defeated U.S. Rep. David Jolly, an Indian Shores Republican, in the redrawn Congressional District 13, which is centered on Crist's hometown of St. Petersburg.

Crist edged Jolly, who was first elected to Congress in a special election in 2014 and flirted with a U.S. Senate bid earlier this year, by nearly 13,000 votes, or a 52-48 percent difference in a district that favored a Democratic candidate.

Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican and physician, easily won election Tuesday in Congressional District 2, which was previously represented by Gwen Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat who did not seek another term.

U.S. Army veteran Brian Mast, a Palm City Republican, beat Randy Perkins, a Delray Beach Democrat, for Congressional District 18, which was held by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat who lost Tuesday in a U.S. Senate race.

In another highly watched race, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican, beat Joe Garcia, a Democrat, by a 52-41 percent margin in Congressional District 26 in the Miami area.

The net effect of the night was a one-seat pickup for the Democrats in Florida, which gives Republicans a 16-11 edge in the delegation.