McCain, Rubio, Wasserman Schultz defeat challengers in primaries

U.S. Sen. John McCain beat back a primary challenge from a Republican tea party activist to win the right to seek a sixth term in November.

The 80-year-old Arizona senator who was his party's 2008 presidential nominee easily defeated former state Sen. Kelli Ward and two other Republicans on the ballot.

However, the victory doesn't clear the way to a smooth re-election for McCain. He faces a tough Democratic challenge in November's general election from U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. She advanced Tuesday after facing only a write-in opponent in the primary.

Also in Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio crushed three rivals to win the Republican nomination in his bid for a 7th term.

Arpaio will face Democrat challenger Paul Penzone during the fall in what's believed to be his toughest campaign in six terms as Maricopa County's top lawman. Arpaio easily beat former Buckeye Police Chief Dan Saban and two other lesser-known Republican opponents Tuesday.

A judge has ruled that Arpaio's officers racially profiled Latinos, and the sheriff was found in civil contempt of court for defying court orders in the case. The judge recently recommended that Arpaio face criminal prosecution over the contempt case, which could subject him to jail time. 

In Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio also earned the support of Republican voters to seek a second term, a decision he made at the last minute after his failed presidential bid.

Rubio beat millionaire developer Carlos Beruff, the only major GOP candidate to stay in the race after Rubio decided to run for re-election two days before the deadline to make the ballot. He had said for months he wouldn't run again no matter what happened in the presidential race.

Rubio will now face U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who defeated fiery liberal Rep. Alan Grayson on Tuesday in the Democratic primary, aided by the backing of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Republican leaders encouraged Rubio to change his mind, seeing him as the best hope to keep his seat in GOP hands as Democrats sought to regain a majority in the Senate.

On the Democratic side in Florida, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz turned back a strong primary challenge and will likely be re-elected to a seventh term in Congress.

The Associated Press declared that Wasserman Schultz won her Florida Democratic primary Tuesday against law professor Tim Canova, a Bernie Sanders-backed challenger, with more than 57 percent of the vote.

It was the first time Wasserman Schultz had faced a primary opponent in her heavily Democratic suburban Fort Lauderdale district. Canova had raised about $3.3 million, an extraordinary amount for a primary challenger with no political experience. She raised $3 million but got backing from a political action committee.

Wasserman Schultz was dragged down by her recent forced resignation as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee after leaked emails. Sanders supporters say they showed that Wasserman Schultz had given preferential treatment to Hillary Clinton in the primaries

In other primary results from Florida, the prosecutor who brought charges against George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin has been defeated for re-election.

Nearly complete election results Tuesday showed that Angela Corey lost by a large margin to challenger Melissa Nelson, herself a former prosecutor. Corey's Jacksonville-based office unsuccessfully prosecuted Zimmerman on murder charges for the 2012 shooting of Martin in a case that triggered national debate on race and violence.

Associated Press

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