Kelli McNair-Lee, 48, an Orlando school teacher, told Adams that the race against Mica would be a down and dirty fight and that "you got to be tough."
As Adams spoke, a crossword puzzle circulated through the audience. The title was "John Mica: Puzzling to Conservatives."
Thirteen across asked, "Since Mica was elected, the national debt has risen 12 (blank) dollars." The answer: Trillion. Fifteen across asked for "Mica's myopic monorail to nowhere." The answer: SunRail.
Louisiana's Landry insists that a likely matchup with Boustany would not be a conservative vs. conservative contest.
"I think the record clearly shows that I wouldn't be up against a conservative Republican," the 41-year-old says in a thick Cajun accent. "When you score Charles' record against mine, I don't believe that it shows that he's a conservative Republican."
Landry, who represents the southeast 3rd Congressional District, cites his scores with the American Conservative Union, the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, saying his grades in the 90s easily top Boustany's 60s.
"That's an 'F' back where I went to school," he said in an interview.
But the true test was last summer's vote on the budget deal between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans to slash $1.2 trillion from the deficit over 10 years. Some conservative Republicans argued that was insufficient. Landry voted against it while Boustany, along with most of the GOP leadership, voted for it.
Backing the Wall Street bailout in 2008 tripped up conservatives in House and Senate races in 2010. This year's fault line is the vote for the budget deal that raised the nation's borrowing authority.
Boustany, who has represented the 7th Congressional District encompassing Lake Charles and Lafayette, describes himself as a fiscal and social conservative and a strong proponent of the House Republican budget, which makes deep spending cuts.
He defends his vote last year on the deficit-cutting package.
"No conservative would ever put the full faith and credit of the United States on the line," said Boustany, 56. "We took an oath of office to defend and protect the country against all enemies foreign and domestic. So our first order of business is to never, ever roll the dice or put ... the United States in a dire position. It would have actually made the debt situation worse."
Republicans in central Florida are struggling with the prospect of having to choose between Mica and Adams in the Aug. 14 primary. David Mealor, the mayor of Lake Mary, praises Mica for his leadership and work to reduce the noise from a local airport. "He's too valuable to us," said Mealor, who wishes both Mica and Adams could serve. Adams gets high marks from the GOP for knocking off Democratic Rep. Suzanne Kosmas in 2010.
"A lot of people have said it's like trying to choose between your two children," Adams said.
The winner is likely to hold the seat in the Republican-leaning district.
Mica has $1.23 million cash on hand. His wife of nearly 40 years, Pat, says she's ready to walk the district, as she did in 2002 when he defeated a self-financed Democratic lawyer.
He also gets high marks from Democrats.
"I asked him the other day at an event, 'Did he want me to speak good of him or bad of him?' because having a Democrat speak well of him in a Republican primary might not be that helpful," Dyer said.
Adams has $459,305 cash on hand but is not deterred by long odds. At age 18, she left an abusive, alcoholic husband, taking her 3-year-old daughter, Sonya, even though she had no prospects. She worked multiple jobs and got an education. She survived the death of one husband, deputy sheriff Frank Seton, when he was killed in a helicopter accident.
Some 20 miles and light-years from comfortable Lake Mary is Bithlo, a hardscrabble patch of trailers and junkyards off the road from Orlando to Titusville. The divide in this Orange County town of 8,300 residents is based on windows — trailers on the north side have them, the ones on the south side don't.