Outspoken liberal Alan Grayson won a return trip to Congress on Tuesday after a defeat two years ago, while freshman GOP Rep. Steve Southerland beat back a tough challenge. Democrats eyed several competitive seats in hopes of gaining clout in Florida's heavily Republican congressional delegation.
Grayson won by a big margin, topping lawyer and conservative radio host Todd Long in Central Florida's District 9. Southerland's win was tighter, but still decisive, defeating Al Lawson, a longtime Democratic state lawmaker and former college basketball star for the Panhandle seat.
In Miami, Republican Congressman David Rivera is being sent home after one term amid accusations of ethics violations.
With 80 percent of District 26 precincts reporting, Democrat Joe Garcia led with 53.9 percent of the vote.
The embattled Miami congressman was outfundraised more than 2 to 1, saw his district's lines be redrawn in a way seen more favorable to Garcia and, more than anything else, was seeking re-election under a cloud of ethical lapses.
Incumbents were leading in most of the state's 27 seats as early returns drifted in, but a handful of races remained tight, including the most high-profile of them all: Rep. Allen West's battle against 29-year-old political neophyte Patrick Murphy.
Republicans outnumber Democrats in the state's current House delegation 19 to 6, with the state adding two seats this election because of its population growth. The GOP will maintain a strong majority, but Democrats aimed at several seats that switched into GOP hands two years ago and are seen as vulnerable.
In Central Florida, freshman Rep. Daniel Webster edged Democrat Val Demings, a retired Orlando police chief. And in South Florida, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, a Democrat, appeared to defeat Adam Hasner.