WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the blunt-talking liberal Democrat from Orlando who has become a national target for Republicans, has met his match.
Dan Webster, a former longtime state lawmaker, easily emerged Tuesday night from a packed GOP primary and will take on Grayson in November, one of the prime matchups of the 2010 midterms across the country.
Webster entered the race late but quickly became the establishment favorite, drawing the backing of former Gov. Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and other top-name Republicans.
Grayson, who did not face a primary, has parlayed his outspoken cable-TV ready persona into a fundraising machine and is well prepared to defend himself. He said Tuesday that he raised $261,000 as part of a "money bomb" on Monday and claimed to have 15 times as much money as any of his would-be challengers.
In another closely watched Republican primary, Sandy Adams and Karen Diebel were locked in a tight race late Tuesday for the opportunity to challenge Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach.
By midnight, there was no declared winner but Adams was ahead and she eventually prevailed. Diebel had been locked in a nasty feud with another candidate in the race, businessman Craig Miller, who finished a close third.
Kosmas and Grayson were elected amid the Democratic wave two years ago, taking seats from Republicans. The GOP has already announced intentions to invest heavily in the races.
Meanwhile, Panhandle Rep. Allen Boyd watched his early lead dwindle against Democratic challenger Al Lawson but squeezed out a win.
Boyd, first elected in 1996, had to spend more than $2 million in the election and emerges weakened. He will face Republican Steve Southerland in November.
Democrats have sights on a GOP-controlled district in Miami. Joe Garcia, who won Tuesday, will face Republican primary victor David Rivera for the seat being vacated by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who is running for a nearby seat held by his retiring brother, Lincoln.
In Broward and Palm Beach counties, incumbent Democratic Rep. Ron Klein held off a primary challenge and will face Allen West, whose outspoken conservative rhetoric has made him one of the top-grossing challengers in any congressional distinct in the country.
Klein wasted no time, launching a TV attack ad against his opponent.
Miami Democrat Frederica Wilson won a nine-candidate primary for a seat being vacated by Rep. Kendrick Meek, winner of the Democratic U.S. Senate primary.
Wilson, a state senator, is virtually assured a trip to Washington, facing only token opposition in November.
Alex Leary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @learyspt.