The University Press’ guide to the upcoming primary election

We break down who’s running for Senate, governor, and Congress.


A sign stands near the FAU basketball arena two years ago informing students they could vote on the Boca campus. The same opportunity will be available to students who are registered to vote in Palm Beach tomorrow, Aug. 28. Photo courtesy of Ryan Lynch

Tomorrow, college students can help determine which Democratic and Republican candidates get the chance to represent their party in the November general election. 

The University Press decided to provide a rundown of the three offices we believe affect college students the most: Congress, Senate, and governor. In Tuesday’s primary election, those seats will be narrowed down for the Nov. 6 vote.  

Congressmen and senators control your localized views in Washington and work to have them heard. The governor controls the major legislative aspects of the state, such as statewide bills affecting public education. 

How it works

On Aug. 28, candidates from each party will be narrowed down ahead of the general, or midterm election, which occurs halfway through a presidential term. Think of the primary candidates as semi-finalists and the general candidates as finalists.

You can check if you are registered to vote here. Because Florida is known as a “closed primary state,” you can only vote if you’re registered as either a Democrat or Republican.

However, all registered citizens can vote on nonpartisan issues and offices, like county court judges and county school board candidates.

You can find your local polling place for Palm Beach here and for Broward here. FAU students registered in precinct 4166 can vote in the FAU basketball arena lobby on the Boca campus. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

For each candidate, we chose their three largest campaign issues and detailed where they stand.

Governor: Democratic candidates 

Andrew Gillum

The current Tallahassee mayor is taking a run at the governor’s mansion. Andrew Gillum has received several endorsements, most recently from former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He also received backing from nonprofit NextGen America, which promotes youth engagement, activism, and environmental sustainability.

Supports aiding Puerto Rico

Gillum believes that Florida should stand with those impacted by the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, in late 2017. He supported the federal government’s efforts during the hurricane to ensure the safety and transportation of its citizens. He advocates for affordable housing as well, especially for those impacted by the natural disaster.

Backs fair wages

Gillum supports a $15 minimum wage. He also looks to increase teacher’s starting salaries to $50,000 per year.

Supports increasing gun control

Gillum wants to make sure no one with a criminal record can own a gun, defining “criminal record” as “felony and misdemeanor domestic violence and stalking convictions.”

Chris King

Chris King has minimal political experience and made his money as a real estate entrepreneur. He’s the founder of the Elevation Financial Group, located in Winter Park, Florida, which is a “private equity real estate investment company committed to providing safe, clean and affordable housing,” according to its mission statement.

Denounces sugar industry

One of King’s biggest campaign staples is his refusal to accept money from the sugar cane industry that dominates the Florida political scene. He wants to “vilify” the industry because its farms continue to pollute the Everglades.

Supports increasing affordable housing

With his background in real estate, King has already renovated thousands of “run-down apartments.” But, he doesn’t believe that’s enough, and wants to change how state government manages affordable housing, especially for seniors.

Supports job creation

King wants to focus on Florida “homegrown” businesses by “creating quality jobs that support working families.”

Gwen Graham

Gwen Graham is a former U.S. representative in Florida’s 2nd congressional district. She served for one term. A lawyer, Graham is also the daughter of Bob Graham, former Florida governor and U.S. senator. She is also the only woman running for governor.

Hopes to improve education system

Graham was involved with the Parent Teacher Association at her children’s school and because of her experience there, she wants to increase teacher salaries. She also looks to ensure college tuition is affordable.

Wants to protect senior citizens

Graham hopes to provide protections for seniors who are oftentimes taken advantage of. She sponsored “The Senior Citizen Protection Act which would create a federal database of criminals convicted of scamming or abusing seniors to protect older Floridians.”

Supports decreasing “dirty” energy

One of Graham’s goals is to ban fracking in the state of Florida and end the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels. Fracking involves extracting oil from deep underground through means that pollute the environment. Graham also supported former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aimed to decrease the U.S. dependence on coal.

Jeff Greene

The billionaire is a West Palm Beach businessman who is known for having a house next door to one of President Donald Trump’s estates. He’s said that he sees President Donald Trump as a “friend.” However, Greene has called Trump out before for his comments regarding women, saying that he grabs them “inappropriately.” He also maintains he sides with “violent white Supremacists.”

Wants to stand up to Trump on immigration

The candidate’s wife, Mei Sze, was an immigrant from Malaysia and escaped “ethnic persecution.” And so for him, the issue is personal. Greene, on his website, refers to Trump’s stance on immigration as “un-American.” He said that he strongly supports speaking out against Trump’s “dangerous rhetoric” on the subject.

Supports increasing fair wages

Coming from a home where his parent worked two jobs to make ends meet, Greene advocates having fair wages. He not only believes in raising wages to $15 an hour, but also in expanding worker’s benefits.

Believes public schools need more support  

Greene calls himself a “product of public schools.” Because of this, he wants every child to have access to two years of all-day pre-K. He also supports raising teacher salaries and taxing the “super rich” to fund public schools. Greene also looks to veto any tax money going to charter or private schools.

Philip Levine

The former mayor of Miami Beach is a businessman who owns cruise line Royal Media Partners. He also recently received an endorsement from former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.

Wants to change how taxpayer money is allocated

Levine wants to stop “giving taxpayer money to special interest groups,” which attempt to influence government policy to reflect their viewpoints. He plans to make sure all taxpayer money is resourced back to various parts of Florida, such as its public education system. The candidate also wants to support small business.  

Supports protecting the environment

Levine wants to invest in renewable energy, improve Florida’s water quality, and protect the Everglades. He hopes to prevent future infrastructure damage from sea level rise by building seawalls, raising roads, updating building codes, and investing in seawater pumps.

Looks to reform criminal justice system

Levine supported Amendment 4 while he was in office, which restores felons’ rights to vote after serving their time. He wants to “review the Department of Corrections” to ensure there is no corruption. Levine is also in favor of “decriminalizing minor offenses” to keep non-violent offenders out of prison.   

 Governor: Republican candidates


Ron DeSantis

DeSantis is a congressman in Florida’s 6th congressional district and an Iraq veteran. One of his claims to fame is that President Trump threw him a rally in late July. DeSantis has voted with Trump 94.3 percent of the time while in Congress, according to FiveThirtyEight. The site keeps track of how often each member of Congress votes with or against the president.

Opposes changes to Florida’s education system

Florida has not currently adopted any of the recent Common Core standards, and DeSantis would like for it to stay that way. Instead, he supports “skills-based education” and vocational training. As of this year, 41 states have adopted the Common Core standards. They outline what each student should learn grade-by-grade.

Identifies as anti-abortion

DeSantis maintains that life begins at conception and has been vocal about his anti-abortion views. He’s stated that he is “committed to reversing the Obama agenda and reasserting American sovereignty, limited government principles and religious freedom,” in regard to abortion, according to OnTheIssues.

Wants to stop illegal immigration

DeSantis is anti-sanctuary cities, and he wants to remove them along with those who promote the policy. DeSantis also voted yes on banning DREAMer immigrants from serving in the military, according to OnTheIssues.

Adam Putnam

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam was one of the first to announce his candidacy.

Supports right to bear arms

Putnam supports the 2nd Amendment and believes in the stand your ground law. He has an “A” rating from the NRA, which means he is 100 percent pro-gun. Putnam also “expedited” more than 75,000 Florida concealed weapon license applications for both veterans and current active members of the military, according to his website.

Supports earlier career training

Putnam wants occupational training to begin in high school. He believes it leads to better long-term jobs with a higher pay rate.

Looks to provide support for veterans

Putnam launched “Operation Outdoor Freedom,” which helps wounded veterans hunt and fish for free. He wants Florida to be the most vet-friendly state in the nation.

Congress: Democratic candidates

Ted Deutch

Deutch currently serves as the Democratic representative for District 22, which includes FAU, and is seeking reelection.

Supports Israel

Israel, according to the candidate, is a crucial ally to the U.S. He stresses that he wants peace and security in the Jewish state. Deutch maintains that the U.S. should increase its cooperation with Israel “militarily, economically, and politically.”

Stands for abortion rights

Deutch believes women should have the right to an abortion. He also supports Planned Parenthood.

Plans on defending Social Security

Deutch was the author of “The Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act,” which improves benefits for senior citizens. He says that he will defend Social Security, especially for the retirees in Florida.

Jeff Fandl

Fandl is running to replace Deutch. Fandl states he is the “champion of the middle class” on his website.

Wants to legalize medical marijuana

The candidate supports legalizing the substance across the U.S., while letting individual states decide on whether or not it should be recreational.

Hopes to prevent gun violence

Fandl supports increasing funding for mental health services, requiring background checks before someone can buy a gun, and banning assault rifles. He has also stated he refuses to take money from the National Rifle Association.

Supports reforming the healthcare system

The congressional candidate has said that he wants the government to pay for doctor and well visits. He also looks to break the link between health insurance and employment. This would mean that citizens could choose which insurance provider works for them, rather than selecting from the options their employer gives them.

Congress: Republican candidates

Nicolas Kimaz

Kimaz, a life coach and film producer, is challenging Deutch as a Republican. He escaped being a child soldier at 15 in Lebanon and believes in the American Dream. His slogan is “Heal America Now.”

Values free speech

Kimaz has stated he is against political correctness and believes it threatens free speech. He’s said that he stands with President Trump on “ALL issues,” especially free speech.

Supports legalizing medical marijuana

While Kimaz believes the substance should be legal for medicinal use in the U.S., he doesn’t support legalizing its recreational use, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Fears for America’s safety with threat of terrorism

Kimaz advocates for peace between Palestinians and Israelis and believes that terrorism lies in “Muslim-heavy countries.” This impacted his early life, he said. He maintains that it’s an ever looming threat that must be dealt with.

Javier Manjarres

Manjarres is another Republican running to challenge Deutch. He is the award-winning publisher of the political blog Shark Tank, which analyzes Florida politics, and has received praise from governor candidate DeSantis. Manjarres has also recently been cleared of attempted murder charges, as reported by the Miami Herald.

Wants to reform the healthcare system

The candidate has stated that Obamacare is a “disaster.” He believes insurance companies should be able to sell across state lines. Manjarres also maintains that associations should be able to band together to gain access to the same discounts large corporations receive.

Plans to be tough on immigration

Manjarres says the “system is broken” in regard to immigration. He wants to work with Trump for stronger border control, implement a border wall, and improve the tracking of people who overstay their visa.

Supports the Jewish state of Israel

Manjarres supported Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem recently, and is a firm supporter of Israel. However, he does not support a “two-state solution” regarding the Israel and Palestine conflict “until all terrorism is eliminated” in that area. A two-state solution refers to land for both Palestine and Israel as many people believe that it will relieve tension and promote peace in the Middle East.

Eddison Walters

Also vying for Deutch’s spot is Walters, a self-employed commercial real estate agent and Republican. He has 25 years of experience in the finance industry.

Looks to change Mexican border policy

Walters maintains that Mexico should be punished for allowing “illegal immigrants” into the U.S. and for its “unfair trade.” He thinks it’s necessary to place tariffs on all Mexican products until the aforementioned practices change.

Believes marriage should be between a man and a woman

Walters doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage and plans to “defend” it.

Wants to restrict manufacturing to the U.S.  

Walters believes the U.S. is the global leader in technology and should be creating its products in this country only.

Paul Spain

Paul Spain currently works as a financial adviser. He previously sought election to this district in 2014 but lost in the general election.

Supports women’s rights

Spain is a supporter of equal pay for equal work and an advocate for women’s rights. He is also a member of Maggie’s List, which is a federal political action committee that looks to increase the number of conservative women in public office.

Wants to be tough on immigration

Spain hopes “all” borders will be closed, as well as sanctuary cities. He also looks to deport all illegal immigrants with criminal records.

Plans on protecting the environment

Spain believes the Florida Everglades are a critical ecosystem that need to be protected. To do this, he supports spending federal and private funds to preserve and restore the Everglades.

Senator: Democratic candidate

Bill Nelson

Currently serving alongside former presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson is a Florida native who previously worked at NASA. He is running to keep his seat as the Democratic senator in Florida.

Supports senior citizens

Nelson believes in lowering drug costs for senior citizens. He wants to protect their Social Security as well.

Hopes to introduce education reform

Nelson maintains that early Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is essential for the U.S.’ future and should begin in early elementary school. He also advocates for an increased number of technical training programs. Nelson introduced a bill for student loan interest to never go above 4 percent as well.

Protects consumers’ personal information

Nelson has led congressional hearings to ensure corporations and tech companies aren’t violating Americans’ privacy. He also wants to crack down on fraud.

Senator: Republican candidate

Rick Scott

The current two-term Florida Governor is seeking Nelson’s seat this upcoming election cycle.

Wants to make Congressmen work full time

Scott is frustrated that Congressmen are paid a full-time salary but don’t work nearly enough to justify their pay. He believes this causes them to rush through voting on legislation and wants to require Congress to work full time in the near future.

Looks to require Congress to pass an annual budget on time

Scott maintains congressmen shouldn’t be paid until they pass an annual budget. He explains this using the phrase, “no budget, no pay.” He wants to hold Congress to the same standards as the public, saying, “If Florida business owners failed to budget or do their jobs, they would be forced to shut their doors and families would be out of work.”

Supports requiring term limits in Congress

Scott believes that if there are term limits for the president, “most governors,” and state legislators, there should be term limits for Congress.

Sophie Siegel is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].