Two U.S. House primary winners celebrated their victories very differently Tuesday night — one at a bustling yoga studio and the other sick at home.
Kat Cammack and Danielle Hawk were declared the winners of their Florida’s 3rd Congressional District primaries, as reported by the Associated Press at 7:22 p.m and 8:39 p.m. respectively.
About an hour into Cammack’s Tuesday night watch party, her campaign team announced she would address the crowd via a prerecorded video. Her communications director Adeline Sandridge said Cammack was feeling “a little bit under the weather” and worried about the potential to infect attendees.
“This is an awesome win, not just for our team, but for our community and for our state. There's so many good things happening right now, and I think after all that we've been through, it is definitely a night to celebrate,” Cammack said.
Throughout the day, Cammack visited multiple cities to campaign ahead of the polls closing, including at Ocala, Williston, Chiefland and Newberry, according to Sandridge. She was meeting and talking to constituents all day, Sandridge added.
Cammack ran against two opponents: Justin Waters and Manuel Asensio. Asensio, who ran on an anti-corruption platform and vocally criticized Cammack throughout his campaign, withdrew from the race on Monday, saying in a letter to the Department of State the Republican Party of the Third Congressional District “silenced and canceled” him.
Back in Gainesville, tucked in a yoga studio filled with proud family members, colleagues and mountains of food, music and cheers welcomed Hawk’s victory as the Democratic primary nominee for the 3rd District.
“This is a testament to what happens when people come together, when they care about their community and they work hard to get somewhere,” Hawk said.
Hawk defeated Tom Wells in the Democratic primary, who ran on a platform that addressed the climate crisis, the corporate welfare system and campaign financing.
The 3rd District covers north Central Florida, including Alachua, Bradford, Columbia and Union counties and part of Marion County.
Cammack’s current 2022 race has been endorsed by former President Trump, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, the Republican Liberty Caucus, the National Right to Life PAC, State Sen. Dennis Baxley and State Sen. Keith Perry. She has raised almost $1.5 million in campaign contributions, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Cammack was elected as congresswoman of the 3rd District in 2020 with 57.1% of the vote, defeating Democratic candidate Adam Christensen.
Tammy Ball, 59, attended Cammack’s watch party and voted for her in the primary election. Ball lives in O’Brien and was in the Navy for 18 years before becoming a licensed hair stylist.
“She's truthful. She's transparent. She cares about people. She's fighting for our country and for us that have no voice up there. She's our voice,” Ball said.
Cammack faced backlash within her first week in office when she supported former President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and objected to the Electoral College vote certification of then President-elect Joe Biden.
In September of 2021, Cammack and other Florida Republicans supported a lawsuit against Gainesville’s vaccine mandate for city employees. The lawsuit was originally filed by more than 200 city employees.
Previously, Cammack voted against the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, Equality Act and a bill that proposed the prohibition of governmental restrictions on abortion services.
In 2022, Cammack voted for the Respect for Marriage Act and Emmett Till Antilynching Act. The marriage bill protects marriage between same-sex and interracial couples, and the antilynching bill makes lynching a federal crime.
Leading up to her career as a representative, Cammack joined the 3rd District’s former Rep. Ted Yoho’s campaign and served as his deputy chief of staff. She later studied international relations at the Metropolitan State University in 2015. In 2018, she earned a master's degree in national defense and strategic studies from the United States Naval War College.
Hawk’s platform includes defending voting rights, reducing gun violence, protecting reproductive rights, mitigating climate change and supporting the right to repair, which allows farmers, ranchers and business owners to fix their own equipment without requiring a third party to repair it.
Grace De La Mora, a 30-year-old campaign volunteer, said Hawk embodied all the values she is concerned about as an immigrant woman. Hawk’s stance on the right to repair resonated with De La Mora because it exemplifies Hawk's commitment to listening to the district’s rural demographic.
“Danielle is someone who can speak for them,” De La Mora said.
Hawk supports policies that combat the climate crisis, including banning offshore drilling while advocating for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of energy.
“We have rising heat that causes all sorts of problems,” she said. “We're having heat deaths; it's causing higher utility bills and those are things that affect the pocketbook of families.”
Hawk’s campaign received nearly $32,000 in contributions, according to the Federal Election Commission, of which almost $15,900 were used as operating expenses. The Hawk for Congress campaign pledged not to accept contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries.
Hawk graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree in ministry and later earned a master’s degree in intercultural studies from Biola University. During her time as an administrator for a private university in South Florida, Hawk worked to distribute scholarships providing low-income students with the opportunity to study abroad.
Despite her win over Wells, Hawk still has a steep challenge in unseating Cammack in the general election, as the 3rd District still leans conservative.
Teresa Cornacchione, director of civic engagement at the UF Bob Graham Center, said political newcomers can’t always be counted out.
“Florida is still a pretty divided state politically, so I would say that while incumbents hold an advantage, I wouldn’t say that it is a foregone conclusion,” Cornacchione said.
Heather Bushman contributed to this story.
Contact Fernando Figueroa and Melanie Peña at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com Follow them on Twitter @fernfigue and @MelanieBombino_.
Fern is a junior journalism and sustainability studies major. He previously reported for the University and Metro desks. Now, he covers the environmental beat on the Enterprise desk. When he's not reporting, you can find him dancing to house music at Barcade or taking photos on his Olympus.
Melanie Peña is a second-year business and journalism major. When she's not designing a graphic or writing an article, she's probably making jewelry or exploring coffee shops in Gainesville.