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

Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) is projected to win the Democratic primary in Florida's 9th District, fending off a bid from former Rep. Alan Grayson (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 Clinton 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 Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.). He also won endorsements from national groups like Planned Parenthood.

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.

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