United States Senate election in Florida, 1970

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United States Senate election in Florida, 1970
1964 ←
November 3, 1970 → 1976

  Senator Lawton Chiles.jpg William Cato Cramer.jpg
Nominee Lawton Chiles Bill Cramer
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 902,438 772,817
Percentage 53.9% 46.1%

U.S. Senator before election

Spessard Holland

Elected U.S. Senator

Lawton Chiles

The 1970 United States Senate election in Florida was held on November 3, 1970. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Spessard Holland decided to retire instead of seeking a fifth term. Democrat Lawton Chiles won the open seat.

Democratic primary[edit]



Initially Bryant, a well-known figure, was seen as a natural front-runner. Chiles, despite a twelve-year career in Legislature, was largely unknown outside his district. To generate some media coverage across the state, Chiles embarked upon a 1,003-mile walk across Florida. The 91-day walk earned him the recognition he sought, and the nickname that would follow him throughout his political career – "Walkin' Lawton".


Primary (September 1) resulted:[1]

  • Bryant - 240,222 (32.90%)
  • Chiles - 188,300 (25.79%)
  • Schultz - 175,745 (24.07%)
  • Hastings - 91,948 (12.59%)
  • Daves - 33,939 (4.65%)

Runoff between two leading candidates (September 29) resulted:[2]

  • Chiles - 474,420 (65.74%)
  • Bryant - 247,211 (34.26%)

Republican primary[edit]



A few months before the primary, Carswell was nominated by Republican President Richard Nixon to the United States Supreme Court, but was rejected by the United States Senate due to controversial statements. He later ran for public office, and was endorsed by Governor Claude Roy Kirk, Jr.. When Cramer was first elected in 1954, he was the first Republican member of Congress from Florida since Reconstruction. Cramer, being the only candidate with elected office experience, won the primary


Primary results (September 1):[4]

  • Cramer - 220,553 (62.52%)
  • Carswell - 121,281 (34.38%)
  • Balmer - 10,947 (3.10%)

General election[edit]

Major candidates[edit]


General election results[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Lawton Chiles 902,438 53.9
Republican Bill Cramer 772,817 46.1
Write-In Bill Fair 123 0.0