Wasserman Schultz, Rubio win primaries in Florida

Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Tuesday survived a tough primary challenge -- defeating a persistent, first-time challenger amid the controversy that ended her leadership of the Democratic National Committee.

The Associated Press projected the win for Wasserman Schultz shortly after polls closed; she had 57 percent of the vote.

"The result was so incredibly gratifying," she said. "It really fills my heart to know the people I have represented said with this margin and this vote: ‘We know her and we have been able to count on her for all these years.’ ”

In the state’s closely-watched Senate primaries, Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy won their respective races -- setting up a high-profile November contest that will help determine whether Democrats can retake control of the Senate.

Wasserman Schultz’s race against law professor Tim Canova gained national attention when Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders accused her, as DNC chairwoman, of rigging the primary for front-running Hillary Clinton.

Sanders later endorsed Canova, which helped him build a sizable $3.3 million war chest to challenge Wasserman Schultz, who has the support of Clinton and President Obama.

Canova's long-shot bid was further helped by leaked emails last month that suggested Wasserman Schultz and other DNC staffers indeed favored Clinton, which resulted in Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.

Wasserman Schultz is expected to win a seventh term in November against Republican Joe Kaufman, in the state’s Democratic-leaning 23rd Congressional District, part of suburban Fort Lauderdale.

She defeated Kaufman 63-to-37 percent in 2014 and until this election cycle had never face a House primary challenge.

Canova, in the closing weeks, argued that the race was more about local issues than the Sanders factor.

But Wasserman Schultz won with the loyal support of district voters. Clinton defeated Sanders in the state’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary 68-to-31 percent.

Rubio defeated four challengers including top-contender Carlos Beruff, a homebuilder. He mounted a last-minute bid for a second Senate term after a failed 2016 White House bid.

In the Democratic primary, establishment-backed Murphy defeated liberal firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson.

Rubio and Murphy's victory speeches set the tone for the Senate race.

"Marco Rubio is the worst of Washington because he puts himself first every time,” Murphy said. “He gave up on his job. He gave up on Florida. He earned the worst voting record for any Florida senator in 50 years."

Rubio said Murphy has lied about his education and his career and is only successful because of his wealthy father.

"How can someone with that kind of record think he can be elected to the U.S. Senate?” Rubio asked. “The answer is he has a sense of entitlement, because when everything you've ever had in your life is given to you, you think you deserve it all."

Murphy, who is endorsed by Obama and Vice President Biden, joined Congress after upsetting Tea Party favorite GOP Rep. Allen West in a 2012 race eventually decided by a partial recount.

RealClearPolitics.com shows Rubio leading Murphy by nearly 6 percentage points in a hypothetical matchup, based on an averaging of recent polls.

Grayson, like Wasserman Schultz, had to run against his own bad press.

In April, the House ethics committee decided to expand its probe into allegations he committed financial improprieties and used congressional staff for campaign purposes.

“I want you to lose,” said Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, which resulted in a tense exchange on Capitol Hill between him and Grayson.

Then allegations surfaced last month about Grayson committing domestic abuse, which prompted New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, next in line for the retiring Reid’s post, to call on Grayson to quit the race.

Grayson, a three-term congressman, and his team have denied the alleged wrongdoing, suggesting the probe is politically motivated, and have said that the ex-wife who made the abuse allegations is “disturbed.”

Grayson’s new wife, Dena Minning Grayson, on Tuesday lost her Democratic primary bid to take the House seat her husband vacated for his Senate bid.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.