TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - One thing is guaranteed after Tuesday's primary: At least one of Florida's U.S. representatives won't be working in Washington after January.
In a rare battle of incumbents, 10-term Congressman John Mica is facing freshman Rep. Sandy Adams in a Republican primary that has become increasingly nasty. They are facing each other after once-a-decade redistricting put both of their homes in District 7, a compact area that includes a small part of Orlando and the area northeast of the city. Either could have run in another district, but neither did.
It's become brutal. Adams calls Mica a big-spending politician who is cozy with President Barack Obama. Mica says Adams has used dirty campaign tactics and her record in the state House doesn't match her conservative rhetoric.
"My current opponent is a 20-year career politician who has become part of Washington. He may have went there 20 years ago with the right intentions, but he is part of the mess that's been created," Adams said. "He has voted to raise the debt ceiling like six times. He's part of that Washington problem that so many of us recognize is a problem."
She is drawing support from three other Republican House freshmen from Florida: Allen West, Dennis Ross and Rich Nugent. That goes along with endorsements from 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Erick Erickson, who runs the conservative RedState blog.
In a recent Adams ad, President Barack Obama is repeatedly shown saying, "Congressman Mica, whose leadership made this bill a reality." Mica is the House Transportation Committee chairman and the clip is from the recent transportation bill signing. Another clip appears to show Mica telling Obama "I'm your biggest cheerleader" after the 2011 State of the Union address.
"She's run one of the nastiest and most negative campaigns in the history of central Florida and I think she's going to pay dearly for that at the polls," said Mica, who has touted the support of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and several mayors in the district. "It's one of the most divisive and just mean campaigns of anyone I've ever seen."
While Mica's and Adams' homes are both in District 7, it's not unusual for members of Congress to run in a new district based on how the maps are drawn.
"Congressman Mica did not have to go after this inland seat. He could have easily run in the coastal seat where most of his constituents live," said Dan Smith, a University of Florida political science professor. "I think it's an act of hubris that he thinks he can knock out this first term congresswoman."
An example of switching districts is West, the tea party favorite who decided to run in a neighboring South Florida district once he saw his current district was leaning more Democratic. To facilitate, Republican Rep. Tom Rooney also shifted to a neighboring district.
Mica and Adams probably both could have had an easy path to re-election had Mica chosen to continuing representing the bulk of his current district, which is now the new District 6. But he thinks it is Adams that should have shifted to a neighboring district.
"They put her house in District 7 by two blocks," Mica said. "My house is in 7, my family is in 7, my business has been in 7, my congressional district office is there in 7. She tried to convince people that it was her district. Now we find ourselves in a primary."
Of course, Adams doesn't see it the same way.
"Everybody was shocked that Mr. Mica decided to walk away from over 500,000 people that he currently represents today to announce he was going to run against me. Think about that," said Adams. "If you don't go along with the establishment, you tend to bring the ire of the establishment. I'm not the establishment."
In other congressional primaries:
- District 6: Seven Republicans are seeking the nomination in the conservative district that runs along the Atlantic Coast from Jacksonville to New Smyrna Beach. Among them are Jacksonville city Councilman Richard Clark, state Rep. Fred Costello, lawyer Ron DeSantis and former Ruth's Chris Steak House CEO Craig Miller. Heather Beaven, the CEO of a nonprofit group that helps students finish school and learn job skills, faces lawyer Vipin Verma in the Democratic primary.
- District 9: Four central Florida Republicans are competing to see who will face former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, who became known nationally after saying the GOP health care plan was to hope people die. They are lawyer Todd Long, businessman Julius Melendez, businessman Mark Oxner and John Quinones, a former state representative who now chairs the Osceola County Commission.
- District 19: Six Republicans are on the ballot seeking an open southwest Florida seat. Among them are state Rep. Gary Aubuchon, state Rep. Paige Kreegel, former radio talk show host Trey Radel and Chauncey Goss, son of former congressman and CIA director Porter Goss. The winner will be the heavy favorite to win the conservative district in November.
- District 2: State Rep. Leonard Bembry, lawyer Alvin Peters and former state Sen. Al Lawson are seeking the Democratic nomination to face Republican Rep. Steve Southerland in a district that spreads from Panama City to Tallahassee.
- District 3: Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns is being challenged by former Alachua County sheriff and current state Sen. Steve Oelrich, Clay County Clerk of Courts James Jett and Ted Yoho, a veterinarian who has gained tea party support. The winner will be a strong favorite to win in November in the conservative district that ranges from the Georgia border to Ocala and from Jacksonville's outskirts to the Gulf Coast.
- District 25: Businesswoman Gloria Romero Roses faces Joe Garcia for the Democratic nomination to face Republican Rep. David Rivera in this South Florida district. Garcia lost to Rivera in 2010.
- District 22: Former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel faces Palm Beach County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs in the Democratic primary. The winner will face former state Rep. Adam Hasner, who dropped out of the U.S. Senate race to seek the seat.
- District 23: Five Republicans are on the ballot to see who'll face Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who also chairs the Democratic National Committee. Among them are restaurant owner Karen Harrington, businessman Ozzie deFaria and Joe Kaufman.
- District 18: West faces minor opposition from Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder while businessman Patrick Murphy is the heavy favorite in the Democratic primary against Jim Horn and Jerry Lee Buechler.
- District 24: Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson faces minor opposition from Rudy Moise in the Miami area district. There are no Republican challengers.
- District 4: Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw faces two minor challengers, Bob Black and Deborah Katz Pueschel. The winner won't have a Democratic challenger for the seat the represents a large portion of Jacksonville and the surrounding area.
- District 13: Republican Rep. Bill Young faces minor opposition from Madeline Vance and Darren Ayres. The winner will face Democrat Jessica Ehrlich for the seat that represents the St. Petersburg area.
- District 17: Republican Rep. Tom Rooney faces minor opposition from Joe Arnold in a district that stretches across south central Florida.
Follow Brendan Farrington on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bsfarrington .
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