House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica successfully survived a primary challenge from freshman Rep. Sandy Adams, avoiding the anti-establishment sentiment that sealed the fate of several of his colleagues earlier in this primary season.
Mica led Adams 60 percent to 40 percent with 80 percent of precincts reporting when The Associated Press called the race at 8:25 p.m. Tuesday.
The two Florida Republicans were drawn into the same district by redistricting, and, though Florida law permits members of congress to run in districts they do not live in, both opted to remain in the 7th District. The incumbent-versus-incumbent primary turned into one of the nastiest primaries of the cycle, with both sides accusing the other of lying and committing all sorts of unethical behavior.
The two fellow members of Congress were no longer even speaking by the end of the race, after Mica allegedly threatened Adams, pulling her close when she went to shake his hand after an event and telling her she would regret running against him because: “I’ll destroy you.”
The tensions of the race were evident in Mica’s statement upon winning the primary.
“This race has been called the fight for the soul of the Republican party,” he said. “I’m happy to report the heart and soul of the party endures. This race demonstrated that the voters appreciate effective, experienced and proven conservative leadership.”
Adams, conceding the race, let go of enough of the hostilities to wish Mica the best, though her statement took a subtle jab at the dirty tactics of which her campaign accused Mica of employing.
“This has been a hard fought race,” Adams said in a statement. “We fought for the right principles. We fought with honesty, integrity and honor … I congratulate Mr. Mica on his win, and I wish him luck in November.”
Mica cast the race as a fight between a longtime public servant with a proven conservative record and a freshman member whose record as a state representative before she was elected to congress did not match her tea party rhetoric.
Adams, on the other hand, boasted a bevy of tea party endorsements — including Sarah Palin, Rep. Allen West, and Tea Party Express — and attempted to paint the campaign in the mold of earlier primaries this year, when tea party favorites like Richard Mourdock ousted longtime Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, and Ted Cruz upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Texas.
But the freshman congresswoman never achieved the national star status of Cruz or Mourdock, both of whom were buoyed by money from outside groups, as her fundraising evidenced. Mica easily outraised her, bringing in $1.62 million to her $941,902, as of July 25.
Mica’s most prominent endorsements came from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.