Florida's Darren Soto fends off Dem challenge from Alan Grayson

Florida's Darren Soto fends off Dem challenge from Alan Grayson
© Greg Nash

Rep. Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoHouse passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans House fails to pass temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans Former state House candidate says she made up story about removing 77 bullets from Pulse shooting victims MORE (D-Fla.) is projected to win the Democratic primary in Florida’s 9th District, fending off a bid from former Rep. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida's Darren Soto fends off Dem challenge from Alan Grayson Live results: Arizona and Florida hold primaries The Hill's Morning Report: Frustration mounts as Republicans blow up tax message MORE (D-Fla.) to reclaim his old seat.

Soto is poised to return to Congress for a second term in the blue Orlando-area district after defeating Grayson 66 to 34 percent on Tuesday. The Associated Press called the race for Soto with 82 percent of precincts reporting.

Soto will now face Republican Wayne Liebnitzky, who unsuccessfully ran against Soto last cycle. But he is expected to cruise to a second term in November in a district that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Polls flash warning signs for Trump Polls suggest Sanders may be underestimated 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall MORE won by double digits in 2016.

The first person of Puerto Rican descent to represent Florida in Congress, Soto had a groundswell of support ahead of Tuesday's primary from Democrats including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTop adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' 'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices MORE, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE (D-Calif.), Rep. John LewisJohn LewisCummings invites Trump to visit Baltimore House Democrat knocks Trump's Cummings tweet: 'This guy is a terrible, terrible human being' George Wallace's daughter: 'I saw Daddy a lot' during 2016 election MORE (D-Ga.) and former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.). He also won endorsements from national groups like Planned Parenthood.

ADVERTISEMENT

Grayson, 60, an outspoken Democratic lawmaker who vacated the House seat in 2016 to run for Senate, frustrated many in his party by challenging Soto this year. He hammered Soto during the primary over his congressional performance and Soto's record while serving in the state legislature from 2007 to 2016.

Soto and Grayson currently align on many of the same progressive ideals, including "Medicare for all" and a $15 minimum wage. But Grayson knocked Soto for his past votes in the legislature on gun rights and limiting reproductive rights.

Soto, 40, has expressed regret for those votes. And the congressman said his views on guns shifted after the deadly 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Soto outraised and outspent Grayson during the primary, and in the lead-up to Tuesday's vote had touted the support of several progressive groups that previously backed Grayson.