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Florida Rep. Keller Gets Primary Scare

Alaska wasn't the only site of a close primary Tuesday, as GOP Rep. Ric Keller got a surprising scare in Florida's Orlando-based 8th district.

Keller beat radio talk show host Todd Long, 53 percent to 47 percent, in a contest that was unexpectedly tight and raised questions about how vulnerable the incumbent will be in November. The four-term lawmaker will face attorney Alan Grayson, who also surprised Florida experts by trouncing 2006 nominee Charlie Stuart in the Democratic primary.

Grayson poured more than $1 million into his primary campaign and will presumably do so again against Keller, who is already seeking to cast the Democrat as too liberal for the district. The Orlando Sentinel points out that turnout in Tuesday's contest was extremely low, making it difficult to draw clear conclusions about how the race will play out in November. But Keller was already a target for national Democrats, and his narrow primary win likely means the target on his back just got even bigger.

By Ben Pershing  |  August 27, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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Comments

Surprising? Not really. Stuart's ties to the Orlando Sentinel gave him a lot of favorable coverage, but Grayson built a ground game that was highly effective. If you only looked at the paper, you weren't seeing the whole picture. Grayson qualified by petition, Stuart did not. Grayson had people on the ground in each of the four counties that comprised the district, and he started building a solid campaign team a full year before the primary. This was no fluke.

Posted by: Jet | August 27, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

A Republican House Incumbent with close ties to the GOP leadership survived a primary!!!!

That is news, the message from the electorate to the GOP is that we are sick and tired of the McSame old policies.

Posted by: robert chapman | August 27, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

This is a sad day indeed. Grayson's victory clearly illustrates that rich lawyers who decided to move to Florida to run for Congress can buy a win with his own money. Grayson has no real ties to the community and bought a house in FL in 2006 just before the primary. Charlie Stuart has real ties to the community and is a leader in central Florida. It will be interesting to see how much of his own money the millionaire will spend during the general.

Posted by: FLtoDC | August 27, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

A well-known candidate, supported by the press gets beaten by someone with a good, well organized ground game. A sitting Republican barely squeaks by in a formerly 'safe' seat?

The writing is on the wall. The Republicans are going to get trounced in November, Obama is going to win a landslide and the headline will read "Surprise Win!!"

Posted by: thebob.bob | August 27, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

He's got no shot at beating keller. God help us.

Posted by: Groundhog | August 27, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

This is what it took for Keller to narrowly edge Todd Long in yesterday's primary:

"Todd Long, the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Ric Keller for his party's nomination, wants you know that he still has lots of conservative support, despite his troubles with alcohol.

On Tuesday, Long sent an email to supporters saying as much in response to an attack mailer sent by Keller's campaign. The Keller mailer contained details of Long's 1998 DUI arrest, as well as a 2005 "disorderly/drunk" trespass warning from Mall at Millenia, and a police report outlining how a Tallahassee cop found Long drunk and asleep on the sidewalk last year."

F.Y.I.

Posted by: JT | August 27, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

53% to 47% sounds like a whipping to me. It was not close as was indicated by some of the liberals who post on this site.Maybe they should go back to school and leaen maht over again.Evidently they didn't pass with too good of a grade in school.

Posted by: elmerck | August 28, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

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