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Amid GOP gains, Florida Democrat Frost is 1st Gen Z candidate to win a U.S. House seat

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In two marquee races, Republican Neal Dunn defeated Democrat Al Lawson in a redrawn North Florida district, and Republican Anna Paulina Luna took the St. Pete-based district previously held by Charlie Crist.

Amid Republican gains in the U.S. House races in Florida, Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost became the first member of Generation Z to win a seat in Congress.

Most Florida races for the U.S. House of Representatives went according to expectation Tuesday night, including Republican Anna Paulina Luna's win against Democrat Eric Lynn in the 13th District, a St. Petersburg-based district formerly represented by Democrat Charlie Crist.

That was one pickup for the GOP. Republicans overall added to their domination of the U.S. House delegation from Florida, where GOP lawmakers drew new district lines favoring their party. Previously 16-11 in favor of Republicans, the new Congress will see 20 Florida Republicans and eight Democrats.

But Frost, a 25-year-old gun reform and social justice activist, was able to win handily in a heavily blue Orlando-area district that was relinquished by Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who lost her challenge against Sen. Marco Rubio.

Frost is among six newcomers to the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s vote from Florida as Republicans took advantage of an aggressively redrawn congressional map spearheaded by Gov. Ron DeSantis. In the wake of the 2020 census, DeSantis had ordered the GOP-controlled legislature to adopt a map devised to maximize Republican gains — vetoing the initial GOP-backed map which largely kept intact two seats held by Black Democratic members of Congress.

Heading into this election year, Republicans held 16 seats and Democrats represented 11 from Florida in the House. Florida is gaining a 28th seat due to population growth.

In one of the marquee races, Republican Neal Dunn defeated Democrat Al Lawson in a north Florida battle of incumbents. Lawson’s majority-Black district was scrapped by the Republican-led Legislature, which adopted a congressional map pushed by DeSantis, prompting a lawsuit alleging unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.

The new House members from Florida will come from six open seats, including the 13th District won by Luna after losing in 2020 to Crist.

One truly open seat, where no incumbent was involved, was the 15th District in the Tampa area, where Republican Laurel Lee — a former Florida secretary of state — defeated Democrat Alan Cohn, a former investigative journalist.

Republican Matt Gaetz defeated Rebekah Jones to retain his seat in the 1st Congressional District. Gaetz, of Fort Walton Beach, received 67 percent of the vote against Jones, a former Florida Department of Health data analyst.

Jones drew national attention when she said the DeSantis administration manipulated COVID-19 data. She is scheduled to stand trial early next year on charges that she improperly accessed one of the department’s computer systems.

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