Four of the messiest campaign brawls of the 2016 Florida primary

Four of the messiest campaign brawls of the 2016 Florida primary

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U.S. House District 9


Territory: Parts of Orlando, Kissimmee, Haines City, Winter Haven and St. Cloud
Current seat held by: Alan Grayson

District 9 was redrawn last year to include more white voters from Polk County in this heavily Latino and African-American district. Most of the drama in this race stems from its current seat-holder, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. Grayson's district director, experienced political operative Susannah Randolph, entered the Democratic race early, running mostly against state Sen. Darren Soto. Soto, like many residents of District 9, is Puerto Rican, which has become a focus in the race as more Puerto Rican migrants leave the island in a mass exodus to Osceola and Orange Counties.

Quietly, Grayson's then-girlfriend, medical researcher Dena Minning, entered the race though she had few local ties to the area. She refused to talk with the media and remained quiet – until, in late May, she married Grayson in a secret wedding on Melbourne Beach and immediately changed all her campaign materials to reflect her new married name, Dena Grayson.

In the background, media reports emerged that Grayson had called Randolph earlier in the year, accused her of supporting his Democratic rival Patrick Murphy and told her his new wife would have his name and his money in the race to represent District 9. Dena Grayson has based her campaign on the fact that she's not an operative or career politician. Meanwhile, Randolph and Soto have clashed on several occasions, including when Randolph claimed Soto joked about rape in a sexually explicit song he wrote as a law student, and Soto demanded an apology from Randolph for a mailer that falsely stated he reduced the statute of limitations for sexual assault. Contenders Valleri Crabtree, Wayne Liebnitzky and Wanda Rentas, a Democrat and two Republicans respectively, have been washed out in this turbulent storm.

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