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 SotoProblem Solvers Dems urge Pelosi to publicly back three rules changes Problem Solvers Dems: We 'cannot support' Pelosi for Speaker 'at this time' 14 House Dems vow to withhold Speaker votes over rule reforms 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 ClintonChelsea Clinton working on new children’s book about endangered animals GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander won't seek reelection GOP rep says there was a double standard in Flynn, Clinton probes 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 BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenIndiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg says he won't run for reelection as he preps for Iowa visit The Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms GOP leader faces Trump test in latest shutdown crisis MORE, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiLiberal groups launch effort to get progressives on key House committees Dems preparing for prolonged shutdown Jim Jordan predicts there will be no government shutdown MORE (D-Calif.), Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDeGette dropped from chief deputy whip spot Obama receives Robert F. Kennedy human rights award Merkel named Harvard commencement speaker MORE (D-Ga.) and former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.). He also won endorsements from national groups like Planned Parenthood.

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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.