Their names are not on the ballot today, but five Florida politicians have a lot on the line as voters head to polls Tuesday.
Governor Rick Scott, Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran, Senate President-designate Joe Negron, state Sen. Jeff Brandes, and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry each have a lot at stake in today’s elections.
For Scott, there is an opportunity to demonstrate his influence if the candidates he has backed win their competitive legislative races. Scott has directly or indirectly assisted Doug Broxson in Senate District 1, Ritch Workman in Senate District 17, and Kathleen Passidomo in Senate District 28. All of these candidates are running in tough GOP primaries.
Although no one will say it aloud, opposite Scott — or at least Scott’s allies at the Florida Chamber of Commerce — is Corcoran and a slate of candidates running for the Florida House. As Jason Garcia of Florida Trend tweet-stormed yesterday, Corcoran and a loose assortment of interchangeable allies are backing Jonathan Tallman in HD 4, Terrance Freeman in HD 12, Wenda Lewis in HD 21, and Erin Grall in HD 54. Not that Corcoran needs any more friends than he already has, but he’d love to win these races to restock his Republican majority.
Time was, Negron had to worry about how his allies would do in the primaries. That was back when he was locked in an intraparty scrum with Jack Latvala for the Senate presidency. But now that Negron’s place is assured, the issue he is most worried about today is one of personal pride. His wife, Rebecca, is running in the ultra-competitive race for Florida’s 18th Congressional District. It’s looking tough for Mrs. Negron, as Brian Mast was leading in the most recent public poll.
Brandes is not fighting any proxy wars in any of the congressional or legislative races, but he has as much at stake Tuesday as any of these pols. That’s because he’s the de facto leader of Amendment 4, a ballot measure to provide property tax breaks for people who install solar panels on their homes. Amendment 4 was placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote in both chambers of the Legislature, but Brandes has been its most vocal champion. Environmentalists and business interests also support the measure, which must receive 60 percent approval to pass.
There’s probably no one with more on the line Tuesday than Curry. County Referendum 1 would allow Jacksonville to extend a current 1/2-cent sales surtax past its sunset and to dedicate it to a $2.8 billion unfunded pension liability. But this referendum is about more than pensions and taxes. Curry has put his sizable political machine being “Yes for Jacksonville,” so much so that it’s difficult to imagine what happens if Jacksonville voters say “No.”
Keep your eyes on these stories as results begin to come in after 7 p.m.