PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - A light turnout was expected as polls opened Tuesday for Florida's primary election although slightly more than 1 million voters cast early or absentee ballots.
That's 357,000 more than in the 2008 primary, said Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Florida's top elections official.
"By all accounts the early voting process went smoothly and that is continued today with no reported issues," Detzner said at a morning news conference in Tallahassee.
A Republican U.S. Senate showdown highlighted Florida's primary. Republicans were choosing between U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, former Congressman Dave Weldon and tea party favorite Mike McCalister. The winner is expected to face incumbent Bill Nelson who had token opposition in the Democratic primary.
Democrats and Republicans were voting in primaries for congressional, legislative and local races. Some races were open to all voters regardless of party affiliation if primary winners will be unopposed in November. Also, some local races are non-partisan.
Detzner declined to make any predictions about the turnout but noted it was 18 percent and 22 percent for the 2008 and 2010 primaries although two years ago both parties had contested gubernatorial races.
Mack is a heavy favorite in the GOP Senate race. His father, Connie Mack III, is a former senator and his great-grandfather was a Hall of Fame baseball manager and he has benefited from a better-financed campaign. Nelson, a former congressman and state treasurer and insurance commissioner, is seeking a third term.
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