Prospect of Chris Dorworth overcoming vote deficit narrows as Dem. opponents lead grows with provisional ballots counted

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Rep. Chris Dorworth began Thursday 37 votes behind his Democratic opponent Mike Clelland.

As night sets in Seminole County, Dorworth’s prospects of overcoming this deficit appear to have dimmed.

With “almost all of the provisional ballots” examined for their relevance to the race and their votes added to each candidate’s totals, Clelland now leads Dorworth by 123 votes.

The final margin puts Clelland at 50.08% to Dorworth’s 49.92% — a margin still close enough to trigger a recount, which is expected to occur Sunday afternoon.

Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel probably best summed up the situation.

“Right now, I think we have a fairly clear picture of the direction it’s going,” Ertel said.

With the possibility that Dorworth may lose  his central Florida House seat the line of succession to the speakership of the House is now in question.

If Clelland ends up winning the seat it throws a wrench into the future of Republican House leadership – Dorworth has been elected by his GOP House colleagues to follow incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford in 2014. Speculation over how Dorworth would be replaced – and if House Republicans will choose a successor and when – was rampant today

“We’ll cross that bridge if we get there,” Weatherford said in an interview with the News Service of Florida. “If he doesn’t (win the election) the body will deal with it.” Weatherford said there’s no plan to simply appoint a replacement for Dorworth rather than leave it up to members of the caucus. “I can assure you there will be no appointment,” Weatherford said.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.