WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters cast ballots Tuesday in primary elections in Florida, Arizona, Vermont and Oklahoma. Highlights:
TOP OF THE TICKET
Democrats in Florida went with a former Republican as their nominee for governor.
Well-funded Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist had been favored in his race against former state Sen. Nan Rich. Crist, who was Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011, mostly ignored Rich and instead focused on his fall rival, Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Crist was a Republican politician for decades and unsuccessfully sought a U.S. Senate seat in 2010. Crist lost his primary to Marco Rubio and then left the GOP and sought the seat as an independent.
He later endorsed President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid and became a Democrat.
Scott bested two political unknowns in his Republican primary.
SIX-WAY RACE IN ARIZONA
State treasurer and former Cold Stone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey won the Republican primary for governor, riding to victory with a campaign that focused on his blend of government and business experience in serving as a state official and building an ice cream company into a national brand.
Ducey has been state treasurer for the past four years, serving as the chief steward of Arizona’s finances during a period that included the collapse of the housing market in the state.
The race to replace Republican Gov. Jan Brewer had begun as a fairly quiet contest focused on health care and jobs before shifting abruptly when thousands of immigrant children began pouring into the country and some settled in Arizona.
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Ducey had been considered the front-runners. Smith cast himself as a pragmatic Republican like Brewer, one of the state’s most popular politicians. Brewer had backed Smith.
The other candidates included former Internet executive Christine Jones, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and former U.S. Rep. Frank Riggs.
Ducey will face former Board of Regents member Fred DuVal.
WRITE-INS FOR VERMONT
In Vermont, Democrats are set to decide whether a write-in candidate from the Progressive Party should be their nominee to face the only statewide Republican office holder.
Democrats did not offer a candidate and Progressive Dean Corren wants to carry their banner in November’s race against two-term Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. If Corren gets 250 write-in votes, he will be on the ballots this fall.
The Libertarian Party’s Dan Feliciano also mounted a write-in bid and came up short. Feliciano’s bid for governor as a Republican ran up against three candidates whose names were on Tuesday’s ballots. The establishment-favored Scott Milne bested two other rivals.
Voters also are set to consider a Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, who is seeking a fifth term in Vermont’s lone seat in the U.S. House.
Three Republicans are competing in the primary for a chance to face Welch in November: Mark Donka, Donald Nolte and Donald Russell. Welch won his 2012 re-election big against Donka with 72 percent in the reliably liberal state.
DEMOCRATS PICK OKLAHOMA CHALLENGER
Oklahoma Democrats settled on a state senator as their Senate nominee for a steep uphill fight against Republican James Lankford.
State Sen. Connie Johnson triumphed over perennial candidate Jim Rogers in their runoff to be Democrats’ nominee for the open Senate seat.
Johnson now faces long odds against Lankford, a two-term member of the U.S. House who is a rising star in the party.
Republicans are expected to hold the seat; national Democrats have not set aside campaign cash in the race.
Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican, announced earlier this year he would step down before his term ends in 2016.
Voters in Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have the next primaries, on Sept. 9.
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