Democrat Darren Soto will defeat Republican Wayne Liebnitzky in Florida’s 9th District, The Associated Press projects.
Soto led Liebnitzky 58 percent to 42 percent with 83 percent of precincts reporting.
The east central Florida seat was open this cycle since current Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson decided to run for Senate. Grayson lost the Florida Senate primary to Rep. Patrick Murphy and will not be returning to Congress next year.
Florida’s 9th District sits south of Orlando, covering Osceola County and part of Orange and Polk counties. In redistricting, the 9th swallowed portions of Florida’s 10th and 17th Districts.
Coming into Election Day, the race was rated Safe Democrat by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
Soto won the Aug. 30 Democratic primary with 36 percent of the vote over Susanna Randolph, Grayson’s former district director, Dena Grayson, the congressman’s wife, and Valleri Crabtree.
Soto has served the past four years in the Florida state Senate and the five years before that in the state House of Representatives. He will be Florida’s first member of Congress of Puerto Rican heritage.
A lawyer by trade, Soto specializes in commercial and civil rights law. He’s an advocate for environmental and immigration overhauls.