Congressman Allen West projected winner in Republican primary

The Associated Press has called the District 18 Congressional race a win for Allen West at 8:06 p.m. The crowd at West's election night party at his Stuart campaign headquarters started cheering like crazy.

Allen West jumped to big early leads over Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder in each District 18 county, and the Republican congressman's campaign hub is already buzzing with supporters.

West, R-Palm Beach Gardens, is winning both St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties by more than 60 percentage points each, but only a few thousand of those votes were counted.

Martin County showed a 63-to-37 edge for West over Crowder, and more than 22,000 votes were registered.

Sporting blue jeans and a button-down Polo shirt, West was posing for pictures and signed a few autographs early into election night. His two daughters, wife and sister also were on hand for a few photos.

West thanked the crowd, and sent his daughter Aubrey back on the road to Nova Southeastern University, where she attends school.

"You don't have to thank me because it's an honor and a privilege to serve, and an honor and a privilege to do what is right," West told the crowd.

Shortly after the polls closed Tuesday, Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder joined about 150 supporters at the Tin Fish restaurant in Stuart waiting for primary vote returns in his U.S. House District 18 race against fellow Republican Rep. Allen West.

In the middle of the upbeat crowd, Crowder said he was glad he ran his race, no matter who wins.

"It's going good today and we're getting a lot of encouragement, and I have no regrets about being in the race, regardless of the outcome," Crowder said. "One of the big things we wanted to accomplish was to give the local people a choice, because without this, our representative is being assigned to us rather than elected by us.

"So whichever way it turns out," he added, "the people have had a choice."

Inside Tin Fish, supporters were checking iPads, laptops and watching televisions to check voting results, however, at 8 p.m., a winner had yet to be declared.

The winner will face a Democratic challenger in the Nov. 6 general election.

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