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Pictured: Primary winners in NY and FL
New leaders emerge from the New York and Florida primaries. as candidates struggle with crowded candidate fields and redistricting. Photos: Getty Images

What happened in yesterday’s Florida and New York primaries?

Some wins reinforced a political legacy, while others introduced a new generation of community leaders.

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Florida House District 7

After a narrow race for Florida’s 7th District on Tuesday, Aug. 23, Anthony Sabatini, a one-term Representative, was unseated by Republican Cory Mills in the state’s primaries. Mills topped Sabatini with a 14% margin.

In 2018, Sabatini defeated his Democratic opponent Cynthia Brown with 56% of the vote during the November general election. 

A DeSantis and Trump endorsement, Sabatini regularly espoused an edged right-wing agenda, often repeating talking points surrounding cancel culture, corporate media, the Washington swamp, and Republicans in name only (RINOs.)

Sabatini, who is also an attorney, was a staunch COVID-19 denier and anti-mask advocate. At the height of the pandemic, he filed 14 lawsuits challenging federal mask and vaccine mandates.

Of all suits filed and heard so far, six ended losses. 

During the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, Sabatini, who frequently referred to protesters as a mob, published an image on Twitter of an AR-15 to threaten protesters “upon illegal entry at any Lake County business.” 

After the Derek Chauvin verdict, Sabatini called it “mob justice.” 

Sabatini ascribed the defeat to a sudden cash influx into fake news pieces in the last 14 days following his loss. 

Mills, 41, is Florida’s pick for the general election. Like his bombastic opponent, Mills is a former combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although he is a first-timer in Florida’s political arena, Mills was in close proximity to Trump.

He was a Trump appointee as an advisor for the Department of Defense and has kept close to right-wing political circles. 

In 2022, Politico reported on PACEM Solutions, a company that produces and sells anti-riot gear, tear gas, and rubber bullets, co-founded by Mills. Outlets reported that much of his merchandise could be seen in action in the Hong Kong demonstrations and, later, the Black Lives Matter protests.

The company’s activities drew scrutiny from the Federal Government, citing safety hazard concerns. 

Much like Sabatini, Mills is a MAGA proponent who also criticized vaccine mandates, repudiated “woke culture,” and critical race theory. He said the Biden administration’s “weak” and “woke” leadership encouraged Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Dems, new and old

In the Senate race, Val Demings scored a landslide victory, with over 50% of the votes in most counties, with the exception of Calhoun, where she secured 39.9 % of the vote. 

Demings, 65, is a three-term Representative in Congress who is running to become the first Black Senator from Florida. Before her bid, she served as the Orlando Police Chief.

“We did it, Florida! We won the primary, now it’s time for us to #RetireRubio,” Demings wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening.

Demings will face Marco Rubio in the general election, who’s held the seat since 2011. Polls show they are neck and neck, with a 48 to 44 percent margin. 

Deming’s career in law enforcement gives her bi-partisan favor, following a 27-year career in law enforcement. 

In Florida’s 10th District, political underdog and Generation Z member Matthew Frost is poised to become the Democratic nominee. The winning candidate would fill Deming’s vacancy following her congressional bid. 

Frost is the Democrat’s breath of fresh air. A community organizer who bested a crowded field of blue candidates vying for Deming’s seat. He’s a fierce gun violence prevention advocate who has leveraged his youth and has said that, if elected, he would carry that fervor with him. 

“I’m not here saying I represent the values and thoughts of every single member of Gen Z. We’re like any other generation… many different ideologies and everything like that. But I think I do holistically represent our lived experience as young people,” Frost told CNN.

Frost is endorsed by notable progressives like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC. 

New York 

Jerry Nadler is the projected winner for New York’s recently redrawn 12th district, resulting in a bitter confrontation between two decades-long representatives. He is ahead by over 25,000 votes.

Rep. Maloney said she was “saddened that we no longer have a woman representing Manhattan in Congress,” during a closing statement. But said she was “proud to have followed in the footsteps and stand on the shoulders of the strong New York women who opened doors and took on the tough battles.” 

“These heroic women fought sexist systems and misogyny that continues today, as we know from my own campaign,” she added. 

House District 10

In another dead-heat race, heir to Levi Strauss & Co. fortune Daniel Goldman is barely ahead of Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou by just over a thousand votes. 

Niou is a steadfast progressive who is calling for a reversal of US involvement and support in Israel. She also called for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

Rep. Mondaire Jones, the current incumbent, is in third place with 18.2% of the vote. Jones heavily lambasted Goldman’s wealth in a recent debate to dampen his rise in the polls. 

“I know the economic pain that people are feeling because I grew up in Section 8 housing and on food stamps, raised by a young, single mom. I can’t imagine this district sending someone to Congress who’s worth $253 million,” Jones said, regarding Goldman’s wealth.

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