Rep. Mast wins GOP nod after facing two primary challengers

Rep. Mast wins GOP nod after facing two primary challengers
© Greg Nash

Rep. Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastDems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland House panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 MORE fended off two opponents to win his Republican House primary on Tuesday, teeing up a race against Democrat Lauren Baer in Florida’s 18th District.

With 75 percent of precincts reporting, The Associated Press called the race for Mast, who carried 78 percent of the vote.

Mast will now face off against Baer, a former Obama State Department official who prevailed in the Democratic primary on Tuesday over attorney and U.S. Navy veteran Pam Keith.

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Mast, a first-term congressman, faced two primary challengers — physician Mark Freeman and real estate investor Dave Cummings — both of whom campaigned as hard-line supporters of gun rights.

By contrast, Mast, a U.S. Army veteran who lost the lower part of both of his legs in Afghanistan, came out in support of gun control measures, including a ban on assault weapons after the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., earlier this year.

The GOP incumbent also faced questions about his loyalty to President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE, particularly over his vote against an administration-backed spending bill. Both Cummings and Freeman have said that they would have voted for the measure.

Trump won Florida’s 18th District by 9 points over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it Harris adds key Clinton aide, women of color to 2020 campaign: report Democrats more likely Trump's foil, than to foil Trump MORE in 2016. But Democrats have signaled that they see the district as in play.

Former President Obama narrowly won there in 2008, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put Baer on its “Red to Blue” list.

The Cook Political Report currently rates the race as "lean Republican."