By Steve Miller | Watchdog
CASSELBERRY — U.S. Rep. John Mica withstood months of personal attacks and accusations from U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams to win a decisive victory in the 7th Congressional District Republican primary Tuesday night.
Mica, bidding for an 11th term in Congress, will likely face Democrat Jason Kendall, a little known sales manager from Altamonte Springs, in the Nov. 6 general election.
Unofficial results show Mica took 61 percent of the vote to Adam’s 39 percent.
After campaigning vigorously for six months, Mica wrapped up his victory speech in a somewhat scripted seven minutes at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant overrun with supporters sporting blue shirts and Mica political stickers.
“They said that this race was about the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Mica told his backers, as the election results beamed from a single TV screen amid a roomful of baseball broadcasts. “I’m here to tell you tonight that the heart and soul of the Republican Party is doing fine here in Central Florida.”
Adams held what was to have been her celebration in the same place she and her supporters have done their campaign work — a small room in a two-story concrete-block office building that houses investment planners, an accountant, an attorney and a chiropractor.
“Being elected doesn’t define me,” Adams told reporters after privately conceding the election before three dozen supporters. “I’m glad we brought back the conservative conversation.”
As Mica repeated in his victory speech, the race was portrayed by the media as part of a larger battle between hard-core conservatives, such as tea party members, and the established order of Republicans like Mica.
National stories highlighted the campaign support Mica depended upon from Washington, D.C., noting
that he had collected just $6,550 in campaign donations from seven people in his district through the end of last year.
An internal poll taken by the Mica camp late last week showed him with a 20-point lead. He still hammered the area, though, talking to anyone who would listen.
He is the known quantity in the 7th Congressional District, which made his road easier as he spoke to civic clubs and parties, knocked on doors and stood in grocery store parking lots.
“Hi, I’m John Mica,” he said, holding out his hand to a woman at a local coffee shop on a recent morning.
“I know who you are,” the woman said, a bit indignant that he would think she wouldn’t recognize him
Mica also outspent Adams 2-to-1, leaving her to use mailers, statements and an aggressive social media campaign.
Mica and Adams were thrown together after redistricting following the 2010 census.
In a mailer, Adams said that Mica voted to borrow $10 trillion, running up the national debt, a claim termed as “stupid and dishonest” by Bruce Bartlett, who was domestic policy adviser in the Reagan administration.
An editorial on the conservative website Red State spoke of a “rumored” trip Mica took to Italy for a ribbon cutting without anything to back it up.
Tea Party Express chief Amy Kremer this week came to the district, a swath of Central Florida that includes Orlando and bends northeast, to proclaim that Adams was one of only three national candidates to earn the endorsement of the movement.
“We are going to stand behind true conservatives,” Kremer proclaimed at a media event Monday that was attended mostly by local tea party members.
Mica, though, has earned top ratings from conservative stalwart groups Americans for Tax Reform and the National Right to Life.
And while Kremer was talking support, the political action committee arm of the Tea Party Express, Our Country Deserve Better, was spending money on U.S. Senate candidate Mark Neumann in Wisconsin, who was embroiled in a four-way primary, also held Tuesday. The PAC reported spending $92,280 on Neumann last week. Neumann lost the contest for former Gov. Tommy Thompson.
In the shadow of her defeat Tuesday night, Adams said she didn’t regret the tea party’s support.
“The tea party is the voice of the people, and I believe the people have a voice,” the 55-year-old former police office said.
As the reality of the defeat settled in, Adams’ support on Twitter, which had been lively all day, cooled to a trickle. It was taken over by Mica fans and Adams detractors, who took their turn to gloat.
“Sandy “One Term” Adams. I’m no fan of Mica, but damn, I’m glad Adams is out. It’s that Palin golden touch again,” one person posted.
Trevor Aaronson contributed to this report.
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.