Maria Sachs wins Senate District 34 in bitter battle lasting two election cycles

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In a bitter Florida Senate race that had spread over two election cycles, state Sen. Maria Sachs has defeated former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff in Senate District 34, this time by a margin of 52 to 48 percent.

In 2012, Sachs, a Democrat, had also won against the Fort Lauderdale Republican by six points after the once-a-decade redistricting had them vying for the same district in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

For the second time, the two candidates ran one of the most expensive, contentious, and closely watched state Senate races.

Although Bogdanoff entered late, she remained a prodigious fundraiser, going into Election Day with $761,715 in contributions. It was a performance that put her third in the list of top moneymakers for state Senate races. Sachs raised about half of Bogdanoff, but still won by four points.

Outside groups also carried much of the cost of the wave of (mostly negative) TV ads running in the district. Florida Democratic Party was the source of much of the anti-Bogdanoff advertising, while another outside group, known as Floridians for Integrity in Government, ran ads attacking Sachs, particularly her ethics problems and residency issues.

Funding for Floridians for Integrity in Government PAC can be traced to Florida Leadership Committee, a PAC associated with Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala.

Behind the scenes, Bogdanoff’s campaign centered on the race for Senate President in 2016, where Latvala will face state Sen. Joe Negron.

Bogdanoff, a close Latvala ally, would have been a guaranteed vote for Latvala in the Florida Senate.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.