Experience trumped youth on Tuesday in a race that pitted a 10-term incumbent congressman against a first-term Tea Party favorite to be the Republican in the running for the U.S. House District 7 seat.
Longtime U.S. Rep. John Mica handily defeated newcomer U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams in an election won by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent.
“They said this was about the soul of the Republican Party,” Mica said of his victory, “I'm happy to report that the heart and soul of the Republican Party is strong in Central Florida.”
Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley, who joined more than a dozen mayors from across three counties to back Mica, said that the win was propelled by his record in his current district.
“He’s been a congressman for all of the district he’s represented,” Bradley said. “He’s shown what he’s able to get done in Washington.”
Mica will go up against Democratic winner Jason Kendall in the general election on Nov. 5.
Kendall won his battle against fellow Democrat Nick Ruiz, also by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent.
"I'm very pleased with it," Kendall said. "I thought it would be about 2 to 1. That's what all my polls said, but you never know until the polls close."
The race was a tough one for the Republicans, who were pitted against each other in a race for one House seat after redistricting placed their homes in the same district. Both had already been representing parts of the new District 7 already, though Mica had been in his seat far longer.
Adams had hoped to leverage her local draw in Seminole County to pull in voters interested in electing her for her platform of cutting taxes and government spending.
Adams said she wants the party to focus on November.
"I'm a firm believer that when one door closes another one opens," she said.
Mica said he’s looking forward to the general election.
“I’ve been asked about the election, and I said it’s in good hands,” Mica said.
For Kendall, an even greener challenger, he said he's feeling good about his shot at success in November.
"My chances are good," Kendall said. "I'm going to keep up the same strategy, I'm going to go door to door and using the social media. I'm not in this to lose. I'm trying to prove that you do not need a million dollars to win a house seat. I beat my democratic opponent using the same strategy and he outspent me 10 to 1."