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Sunday, Sep 14, 2014
National News

Florida, Arizona pick nominees for governor

Published:   |   Updated: August 27, 2014 at 01:19 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) Voters cast ballots Tuesday in primary elections in Florida, Arizona and Vermont. Highlights:

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TOP OF THE TICKET

Democrats in Florida went with a former Republican as their nominee for governor.

Well-funded Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist was favored in his race against former state Sen. Nan Rich. Crist, who was Florida's governor from 2007 until 2011, Crist 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.

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SIX-WAY RACE IN ARIZONA

Six Republicans are vying for the party's nomination to replace outgoing Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and state Treasurer Doug Ducey are considered the front-runners and have spent recent weeks trying to win over independent voters, who are the state's largest voting bloc and can request either party's primary ballot.

Smith has cast himself as a pragmatic Republican like Brewer, one of the most popular politicians in the state. Brewer is backing Smith and campaigned with him in the lead-up to the primary.

Ducey is the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, an ice cream chain. He ran for state treasurer in 2010 and easily topped the Democratic nominee by more than 10 points.

The other candidates include former Internet executive Christine Jones, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and former U.S. Rep. Frank Riggs.

The GOP victor will face former Board of Regents member Fred DuVal.

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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.

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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 began Election Day seen as the favorite and stayed there, triumphing 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, earlier this year announced he would step down before his term ends in 2016.

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UP NEXT

Voters in Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have the next primaries, on Sept. 9.

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Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philip_elliott

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