Darren Soto wins Democratic nomination for Florida's 9th Congressional District

Soto beat former Rep. Alan Grayson


Central Florida voters chose Darren Soto as the Democratic candidate to represent the state of Florida's 9th Congressional District. Soto, the incumbent, beat challenger former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson for the nomination.

The district, which is comprised of all of Osceola and parts of Orange and Polk counties, was represented by Grayson from 2013 through 2017. Soto was elected in 2016, beating out Republican candidate Wayne Liebnitzky, who is running for the same position again this year.

Grayson chose not to seek re-election in 2016 in order to run for one of Florida's U.S. Senate seats, leaving the District 9 race to his wife, Dena. She lost to Soto by nearly 10 percent of the total vote primary vote. Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy beat Grayson for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. 

Before his election as 9th District representative in 2016, Soto served in the Florida House of Representatives for five years, then in the Florida Senate for four years.

[WATCH: Alan Grayson, Darren Soto square off in debate]

In May, Grayson said that recent polling convinced him to run again for the position he left two years prior. Grayson said Soto's first term did not compare with what he was able to do during his time as a congressman.

"I wrote more bills than any other member of Congress and I got more passed than any other member of Congress, and this is with the Republicans in charge," Grayson said.

News 6 political expert and University of Central Florida political science professor Jim Clark said that Soto, who is of Puerto Rican descent, had a valuable Puerto Rican base of supporters. District 9's population is largely Hispanic and white, with almost 50 percent identified as Hispanic, according to Ballotpedia.org, an online encyclopedia of U.S. elections.

Personal issues relating to both candidates have made headlines during their tenures as politicians.

Often acknowledged for his inflammatory comments, Grayson's ex-wife accused him of abuse in 2016, which he denied. Soto's wife was arrested and accused of drunken and disorderly conduct at Disney Springs in April.

After his loss on Tuesday, Grayson said he was defeated with lies.

"I am very disappointed, but I am also recognizing that this represents a threat to democracy itself," Grayson said. "The CEO of Fox News, Rupert Murdock's son spent $500,000 to in the past 30 days to smear me. To attack me personally with vicious, vicious lies and the result of that is what you see here tonight."

Soto will take on Liebnitzky in the Nov. 6 general election.