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As expected, Matt Gaetz easily topped a crowded field in Northwest Florida’s crowded Republican congressional primary Tuesday, becoming the odds-on favorite to succeed Congressman Jeff Miller.

Miller, who has served in Congress since 2001, announced earlier this year that he would not seek another term.

With some precincts still outstanding, Gaetz leads the seven-person field with 37.25% of the vote. State Sen. Greg Evers is a distant second with 20.98% of the vote, and veteran Cris Dosev is third with 20.45 percent. Rebekah Johansen Bydlak, James Zumwalt, Brian Frazier, and Mark Wichern are each in single digits.

Gaetz will face Democratic nominee Steven Specht in November, but Northwest Florida hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress in more than 20 years. The Cook Political Report gives the district a Partisan Voting Index of R+22, meaning Republicans have a 22-percentage-point advantage over Democrats, the highest in the state.

Florida’s first congressional district stretches across five counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Holmes. Gaetz won each county in Tuesday’s primary.

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