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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 11.9.16

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


Donald Trump awakened a movement of angry working-class voters fed up with political insiders and desperate for change. On Tuesday, that movement propelled him to the White House.

Trump’s stunning, come-from-behind victory over Hillary Clinton — a far more organized and experienced rival — served as a raised middle finger to the political establishment from his fervent backers.

The 2016 election was vindication for Trump, a former reality TV star who was underestimated from the start.

While pundits assumed his poll numbers would sink as soon as voters started taking the race seriously, Trump was drawing thousands each night to rallies packed with angry, largely white supporters who felt ignored and lied to by Washington.

While statistics showed the U.S. economy improving overall, it didn’t feel that way in places like upstate New York, Pennsylvania’s coal country and former manufacturing towns across the Midwest devastated by outsourcing and globalization. Chaos abroad only added to the feeling that the country was sliding backward.

Together, those factors drove a yearning to return to a simpler time when America was the world’s undisputed superpower and middle-class wages were on the rise.

Trump’s vow was simple: He’d “Make America Great Again.” His outsider status, coupled with his personal business success, lent credibility to a populist message that emphasized recapturing manufacturing jobs, restoring American strength abroad and curtailing legal and illegal immigration.

Trump promised to immediately create new jobs, end conflicts abroad and — in Trump’s words, “win again”

Trump, early on, painted his supporters as a “movement” larger than himself.

“This isn’t about me; it’s about all of you and our magnificent movement to make America great again all over this country. And they’re talking about it all over the world,” he said at a rally in Miami last week during the race’s furious final stretch.

“There has never been a movement like this in the history of our country — it’s never happened. Even the pundits, even the ones that truly dislike Donald Trump, have said it’s the single greatest phenomena they have ever seen.”

But as he worked his base into a frenzy and locked down one primary win after the next, Trump was also repelling large swaths of the populace — including women, college-educated whites and minorities — with his deeply divisive rhetoric.

Trump launched his campaign with a speech that accused Mexico of sending rapists and other criminals across the border. He later questioned 2008 Republican nominee and former POW John McCain‘s status as a war hero, saying he preferred people who hadn’t been captured. He mocked a disabled reporter. And he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” — a blanket religion test denounced by many as un-American.

After securing his party’s nomination, Trump questioned a federal judge’s ability to treat him fairly because of the judge’s Hispanic origin, repeatedly insulted a Muslim-American family whose son had been killed in Iraq, and got into an extended spat with a former beauty queen, at one point instructing his millions of Twitter followers to “check out” her non-existent sex tape.

Again and again, Trump appeared poised to close the gap with Clinton, only to go off on a tangent that would send his poll numbers tumbling.

Then came the release of shocking old video footage from an “Access Hollywood” bus in which Trump bragged about being able to grope women because he was famous. The video’s release was followed by a string of allegations from women who said Trump sexually harassed or assaulted them.

Trump denied the accusations, at one point threatening to sue the women.

But one October surprise was overshadowed by another. Trump’s numbers had already been rising with news of health care premium increases when the FBI director informed Congress that the bureau had found a new trove of emails potentially relevant to its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server a secretary of state.

While the FBI eventually announced that there was nothing in the emails to merit criminal prosecution, the damage appeared to have been done.

On Tuesday, Trump won a commanding victory, buoyed by a new Trump coalition.

“It’s time to get together,” he said.

TRUMP JUST BLEW UP THE ELECTORAL MAP via Aaron Blake of the Washington Post – Trump is the president-elect of the United States of America, and he did it by completely blowing up the electoral map and all of our projections and expectations of it.

To wit: Trump won his “must-win” states of Ohio, Florida and North Carolina in races that were called on Tuesday night. He won his other apparent “must-win” state, blue-leaning swing state Pennsylvania, which was called for Trump early Wednesday morning. Not stopping there, he won at least one and possibly two states in which he didn’t even campaign until the final week of the 2016 election: Michigan and Wisconsin. These, like Pennsylvania, are states that have long eluded the GOP’s grasp and didn’t seem likely to be winnable for Trump.

All of this disproves the idea, which we and everyone else have espoused early and often, that Trump’s path to victory was narrow. It wasn’t. It was broad. We were wrong. The polls were wrong. We fundamentally misunderstood this election. We thought Clinton might be winning red states. But Trump won blue states.


It was looking like he had to win Florida, Ohio and probably both Pennsylvania and North Carolina. He won all four, but he didn’t even need to. Trump’s win in Wisconsin and apparent victory in Michigan (where he leads but the AP hasn’t made a call) are just the icing on the cake at this point. It looks like the electoral college won’t even be close.

— “How Trump won: the revenge of working-class whites” via Jim Tankersley

A FEW (FLORIDA) COUNTIES TELL A CLEAR STORY: TRUMP’S PREDICTIONS WERE RIGHT via Phillip Bump of the Washington Post – Regardless of how many electoral votes Trump gets, he won a stunning victory on Tuesday night. He’d said that he would do better than the polls showed, that white voters would rush to the polls to cast their votes for him and that there was an undercurrent to the 2016 election that the wonks were missing.

Consider Florida … In counties where fewer than 50,000 votes had been cast as of about 10 p.m. Eastern time, Trump had a margin of 186,000 more votes than Clinton. That is more than the margin by which Clinton won in most of the larger counties she won, save two. There’s a correlation between the white population and the results in the state. … The area around Tampa tells a lot of the story. In 2012, Obama won Hillsborough County with 52.7 percent of the vote and nearby Pinellas County with 52.1 percent. With about 90 percent of the vote in, Clinton lead in Hillsborough with 51.4 percent of the vote — but trailed in Pinellas with 47.4 percent. About half of the population of Hillsborough County in 2013 was non-Hispanic white. About three-quarters of Pinellas County falls into that category.

We can take that further. Across the state, in counties that were under 60 percent white, Clinton was performing about 2.5 percentage points worse than Obama, and Trump was doing a bit less than a percentage point better than Romney. In counties that are three-quarters white, Clinton was down 4.8 points versus the president and Trump up 3.1 points.

DEMOCRATS ONE-WORD ANSWER TO THEIR HORRIBLE NIGHT: COMEY via Amber Phillips of the Washington Post – For Democrats and some political prognosticators, the answer to their surprisingly bad night is simple: Comey. Specifically, James B. Comey. The fact that the FBI director brought Hillary Clinton’s private email server roaring back into the national conversation 11 days before the election — only to clear her (again) the weekend before Americans voted — is unforgivable in many Democrats’ minds. And in those same minds, Comey is the reason they find themselves losing an election in which polls suggested they held a significant edge.

It is possible that Comey’s new look into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state reminded many swing voters of what polls show is Clinton’s weakest attribute: trust. No less than 62 percent of registered voters said in The Post-ABC News recent tracking poll they thought she was dishonest. … But as The Fix’s Aaron Blake wrote this week, we should consider any Comey effect with a heavy dose of skepticism. His announcement to Congress about finding emails “pertinent” to the Clinton email investigation accelerated a bump in polling that was already trending upward for Trump.

PRO-JEB STRATEGIST: ‘DATA DIED TONIGHT’ via Adam Cancryn of POLITICO – Republican strategist Mike Murphy is offering up a mea culpa, tweeting that he “could not have been more wrong about this election.” Murphy, who ran Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC, had maintained earlier Tuesday evening that Donald Trump would lose his bid for the presidency, even as Trump inched closer to a win in Florida. But he acknowledged that the night’s results caught him completely off guard. “I’ve believed in data for 30 years in politics and data died tonight,” he tweeted.

STOCKS PLUNGE AT PROSPECT OF TRUMP PRESIDENCY via Ben White of Morning Money – Stock futures crashed on Tuesday night and the Mexican peso plunged by the most in two decades as Trump’s odds of becoming president soared, sending shockwaves around the world.  Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by as much as 800 points as investors watched Trump take leads in Florida and North Carolina … “Officials at the Federal Reserve and Treasury are monitoring global market moves but at this point have no plans for any kind of intervention before the opening bell on Wall Street,” a source told White.

REINCE PRIEBUS UNDER CONSIDERATION AS TRUMP’S CHIEF OF STAFF – RNC chairman Priebus “is the inside favorite to serve as chief of staff in Trump’s administration, according to two senior sources familiar with the initial discussions, Time reports.

A CABINET SPOT FOR RICK SCOTT? via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist – Given Scott’s vocal support of Trump throughout the race, it’s not inconceivable that he might enjoy enormous influence with the new president for the final two years of Scott’s term as Governor. That assumes, of course, that Trump doesn’t make Scott an offer he can’t refuse to serve in the Trump Administration.

NO MORE GRIDLOCK? via Rick Hasen — If, as it appears likely, we have a Republican President, Senate, House and Supreme Court, policy and law will shift sharply to the right. Putting aside what that would look like on the merits, it does give us something we have not had in our system of divided government: a chance for a single party to govern and be held responsible and accountable by the voters. Gone would be arguments about the other party obstructing.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY DIED WITHOUT THE RIGHT TO VOTE. NOW PEOPLE ARE COVERING HER TOMBSTONE IN ‘I VOTED’ STICKERS via Ben Guarino of the Washington Post — A new tradition has sprung up around a famous headstone in Rochester, N.Y. In the days leading up to and following an election, the grave marker in Mount Hope Cemetery sprouts a fresh coat of “I Voted” stickers. The grave marks the final resting place of one of the most famous suffragists in American history, Susan B. Anthony. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren told the Associated Press on Monday that pasting stickers on Anthony’s grave has become a “rite of passage for many citizens.” The cemetery normally closes at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. But Warren said that Mount Hope Cemetery will remain open until 9 p.m. on Election Day, to reflect the historic inclusion of Clinton as the first woman atop the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party. … Anthony died in March 1906. Fourteen years later, in August 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified. Some 90 years later, the pilgrimage to Anthony’s gravestone on Election Day began, possibly as recently as 2014, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

GOP KEEPS U.S. SENATE CONTROL AS DEMOCRATS FALL SHORT via Erica Werner of the Associated Press – Republicans held onto their slim Senate majority Wednesday, a stinging blow to Democrats in a night full of them. Democrats had been nearly certain of retaking control but saw their hopes fizzle as endangered GOP incumbents won in Missouri, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and even Democrat-friendly Wisconsin. GOP-held New Hampshire remained too close to call in the early morning hours Wednesday, but even if Democrats eked out a win there it would not make a difference. Republicans started the night with a 54-46 majority in the Senate and were on track to end up with at least 52 seats, presuming they win a December runoff in Louisiana, as expected.

 GOP WINS 2 MORE YEARS OF U.S. HOUSE CONTROL, DEM GAINS MINIMAL via Alan Fram of the Associated Press – Democrats who’d envisioned potentially big gains in suburban and ethnically diverse districts instead were on track for disappointingly modest pickups. Republican contenders were buoyed by Trump’s surprising victory in his White House bid against Democrat Hillary Clinton and his appeal to white working-class voters. Expectations had been low that Democrats would win the 30 seats they’d needed to capture House control. But both sides had anticipated they’d cut the historic GOP majority by perhaps a dozen seats, which now seemed unlikely. Republicans currently hold a 247-188 majority, including three vacant seats, the most the GOP has commanded since their 270 in 1931. By Wednesday morning, Republicans had at least 233 seats — guaranteeing control — and just five of their incumbents had lost. The GOP retained seats in Minnesota, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Wisconsin that Democrats coveted, and Republicans prepared to build on their six-year run of House control.

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EXIT POLLS: TRUMP WINS FLORIDA HELPED BY WHITE, OLDER VOTERS via Mike Schneider of the Associated Press – There was a sizable gap in age and race between Trump and Clinton voters, and white and older voters helped push Trump to a razor-thin victory.

Trump led with voters age 45 and older, and almost two-thirds of white voters in Florida preferred Trump. Trump also had an advantage with men. Clinton had a slight lead with Florida women, and voters under age 45, particularly millennials, supported Clinton. Almost 9 in 10 African-Americans in Florida favored Clinton.

There was a significant divide between Cuban voters and non-Cuban Hispanics in Florida, the state with the nation’s third-largest Hispanic population. Trump led with Cuban voters, but more almost three-quarters of non-Cuban Hispanics preferred Clinton. Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric has turned off many Hispanics, but Trump appealed to Cuban voters in September by saying he would reverse the deal Obama made with Cuba to reopen diplomatic relations – unless Cuba expands political freedoms.

Trump led with independent male voters, although the candidates split independent women. Self-described moderates favored Clinton.

Clinton led Floridians with advanced degrees, and those only with high school diplomas. Voters with only a college degree leaned toward Trump, and he did especially well with white men and women who were college-educated. The candidates were evenly divided among voters who had some college.

Trump led voters earning $100,000 or more a year, those making less than $50,000 a year favored Clinton. Trump had a slight advantage with income-earners in between.

Trump had a sizable advantage with Protestants, and a lead with Catholics, but Clinton was favored by voters from other religions and those who didn’t identify with a religion.

HOW TRUMP WON FLORIDA via Marc Caputo and Kyle Cheney of POLITICO – Despite Clinton’s large margins in Miami-Dade County and Broward County, Trump ran up the score elsewhere in the state — from the Deep South Panhandle to the interior of Florida to peninsula’s southwest, a bastion of working-class whites and retirees from the Midwest who pushed him over the top. Trump ran up huge margins with white Florida voters — who comprise 64 percent of the state’s voting rolls — and have always been the most reliable voters in terms of turnout. Latino turnout in Miami-Dade and Orange County was just not enough for Clinton.

… Two weeks ago during a meeting at Trump’s golf club in Doral, sources said, Wiles successfully made the case to Trump to spend more on mail, advertising and paid callers to reach out to more Republican absentee ballot voters. Wiles, who managed Gov. Rick Scott’s first campaign, in 2010, would neither confirm nor deny the accounts.

… The size of the vote was historic in populous Democratic strongholds like Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. But turnout was even higher in Republican areas. By the end of the night, Trump’s lead was so big that, even if turnout in Florida was modeled at 80 percent – far higher than recent elections – Clinton would still not win if she beat Trump by double digits.

… Trump blew away records in the Tampa Bay media market, the western edge of the vaunted I-4 corridor that helps swing elections. In the counties composing the market, Trump rolled up a 193,000 vote lead over Clinton. In the Jacksonville market in the northeast, he pulled in 165,000 more votes. He held vote leads of 144,000 in Naples-Fort Myers market, 126,000 in the Pensacola market, 83,000 in the Panama City market and 58,000 in the Orlando market, which anchors the eastern end of the I-4 corridor.

TWEET, TWEET: @BrettDoster: Pundits incredulous that Trump inspired so many. Overlooking country’s hatred and fear of Hillary and rejection of Obama policy.

MARCO RUBIO EASILY DEFENDS U.S. SENATE SEAT via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – After a tumultuous political year, Rubio … easily defended his Senate seat, dispatching Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by an expected wide margin. Rubio’s had been seen as the favorite, but public polling remained tight in the final days, as the Miami lawmaker fended off questions about Trump, whose controversial comments sometimes hurt Rubio’s ability to stay on message with the media. Ultimately, though, Rubio was able to use his huge money advantage experience and name recognition – earned while running unsuccessfully for president – to trounce Murphy.

rubioThroughout the campaign, Rubio and outside Republican super PACs were able to use media reports about Murphy embellishing his professional resume in attack ads that only helped cement the negative perception. Helping matters for Rubio is the fact that his outside allies had far outspent the Murphy campaign both on the ground and on the airwaves. Last month, POLITICO Florida reported that ad spending in the race had reached $40 million, of that $26 million funded pro-Rubio ads or attack ads against Murphy. Rubio’s campaign raised $13 million, including $2.6 million that came from political action committees or joint fundraising agreements. That included $200,000 from a joint fundraising committee that also backed Senate candidates Todd Young of Indiana and Joe Heck of Nevada.

EXIT POLLS ABOUT THE SENATE RACE: Rubio led male voters. Neither Rubio nor Murphy had an advantage with female voters. Murphy led among voters under 45, while Rubio was the favorite for voters 45 years and older. Rubio was the overwhelming favorite of white voters, while 4 in every 5 African-American voters preferred Murphy. The candidates split the Hispanic vote, although two-thirds of Cubans preferred Rubio, whose parents are from Cuba.

GOP FAVORITES TAKE NORTH FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL SEATS via Florida Politics – State Rep. Matt Gaetz and Panama City surgeon Neal Dunn, both Republicans, easily won their respective Panhandle congressional races Tuesday night. In the heavily conservative 1st Congressional District, Gaetz trounced Democrat Steven Specht, an Air Force veteran. Gov. Rick Scott tweeted to Gaetz from his campaign account: “We will miss you in Tally, but I am glad we have another reformer in Washington to make big changes!” And for the 2nd Congressional District, Dunn overwhelmed Democrat Walt Dartland, Libertarian candidate Rob Lapham and a write-in. “I believe this victory answers North Florida’s call for a Republican leader who truly wants to help our nation return to the path of greatness,” Dunn said in a statement.

CHARLIE CRIST WRESTS LONGTIME GOP PINELLAS SEAT FROM INCUMBENT DAVID JOLLY via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – Crist … beat incumbent Republican Jolly by a relatively slim 52 percent to 48 percent margin in the 13th Congressional District, according to preliminary returns. St. Petersburg’s Crist won the new parts of the district, added in a court-ordered redraw last year, and also managed to cut enough into Jolly’s Clearwater base to prevail in one of the most closely watched congressional races in the nation. Crist said his victory is an opportunity to bring stability to Congress. The race was contentious, but Crist said it was never personal. “Jolly was my opponent,” he said, “but he was never my enemy.” Jolly ended the race on an upbeat note. “Tonight is a turn in politics,” he said. “We may not have won the campaign … but I’ll look at the camera like we did and say, ‘Washington look out.'”

BRIAN MAST DEFEATS RANDY PERKINS IN CD 18 via Florida Politics — Brian Mast is heading to Congress. The Treasure Coast Republican defeated Democrat Randy Perkins in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, receiving 54 percent of the vote, or 183,606 votes. Perkins received 43 percent of the or with 147,44 votes. “I have had no greater honor than serving my country, and I would like to now thank the voters of Florida’s Congressional District 18 for granting me the opportunity to serve again,” said Mast in a statement. A combat veteran, Mast lost both his legs while on a mission in Afghanistan. He spent a few months at Walter Reed Medical Center. He decided to go back to school, getting a bachelor’s degree in extension studies with a concentration in economics and minors in government and environmental studies from Harvard University’s Extension School. “It is my duty in life to protect the Constitution, and to make our country a better place for my children, and for your children,” he said. “My commitment is the same now as it was in combat. I will serve with everything I have. I will do it selflessly and with courage. I will do it, above all, with a sense of duty to each citizen of our great community and to the United States of America.”

CARLOS CURBELO WINS SECOND A SECOND TERM IN CD 26 via Florida Politics — For the second election in a row, Carlos Curbelo defeated Joe Garcia in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The victory means the Miami Republican will head back to Washington to serve a second term in the U.S. House. According to preliminary election results, Curbelo received 53 percent, or 147,565 votes. Garcia, a Miami Democrat, received 41 percent, or 114,535 votes. Garcia was first elected in 2012, serving one term in the U.S. House. The district, which spans from Key West to the Miami area, was redrawn as part of a redistricting ruling last year. “While tonight did not produce the results we hoped for, I’m proud of our campaign’s work and am thankful to the hundreds of incredible people who took part in our efforts,” said Garcia in a statement. “Since the very beginning of my campaign, we focused on the issues that affect the families that live in this great community — it’s what I have done my entire life and what I did in Congress.”

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AMENDMENT 1 FAILS via Jeff Tavss of ABC News – Florida’s big power companies were defeated at the ballot box as Florida residents voted down Amendment 1, the so-called “Solar Amendment.” The measure failed to receive the 60 percent needed for a state constitutional amendment to become law. While appearing to support solar power, opponents claimed the amendment actually hurt citizens. The amendment offered rights that Florida residents already had and would prohibit solar panel owners from being able to subsidize backup power to non-solar users.

FLORIDA OKS MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT via Joe Reedy of the Associated Press – Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment Tuesday to legalize medical marijuana, broadening access to pot beyond the limited therapeutic uses approved by the legislature two years ago. Amendment 2 passed with 71 percent approval, well above the 60 percent needed to become law. Two years ago a similar measure received 58 percent. “We were confident going into the election that it was going to pass but this is truly historic,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care.

Specifically the measure allows prescriptions for 10 illnesses: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. It also allows doctors to prescribe pot for any other similar kind of ailment. The Department of Health will regulate how medical marijuana can be distributed along with mandating identification cards for caregivers and patients. Many rules and regulations – from how the marijuana is grown to regulations on how it can be transported for in-home delivery – already have been passed by the legislature under laws for limited use of marijuana. Those regulations also will apply to the constitutional amendment.

The No on 2 campaign issued a statement saying that they hope the authors of the amendment are true to their word that the legislature will have wide discretion on regulation of medical marijuana.

keith-perryKEITH PERRY SLIDES PAST ROD SMITH IN SD 8 via Cleveland Tinker of the Gainesville Sun – Perry beat  Smith in the race for the open state Senate seat … which takes in Alachua and Putnam counties and the northern half of Marion County that includes Ocala. Perry won with 52.6 percent of the vote, or 119,168 votes, while Smith garnered 47.4 percent of the vote or 107,270 votes.

Perry said he’s excited about returning to Tallahassee. “My No. 1 priority has always been looking out for working class people by doing what I can from a regulatory standpoint to make it easier for them to afford the necessities of life like paying their utility bills,” said Perry, owner of Perry Roofing in Gainesville. “I am going to also work hard to fund music and the arts for elementary schools, and continue to reduce taxes, especially on the smallest of businesses and across the board for individuals.”

LINDA STEWART DEFEATS DEAN ASHER TO WIN SD 13 via Larry Griffin of Orlando Rising – Former state Rep. Stewart and newcomer Asher squared off for the seat being vacated due to term limits by Senate President Andy Gardiner. Stewart achieved the victory thanks in part to the redrawn district leaning more democrat than when Sen. Gardiner occupied it.

VICTOR TORRES DEFEATS PETER VIVALDI TO WIN SD 15 SEAT via Larry Griffin of Orlando Rising – Torres won with 56 percent of the vote to Vivaldi’s 44 percent. Torres was at odds with Vivaldi’s conservatism, with Vivaldi, a youth minister, being strongly opposed to abortion and picking up a slew of endorsements from pro-life and religious groups. Torres’ candidacy has been based on issues like health care, education and jobs, and he’s said he strongly favors getting more funding kicked the way of public schools, which are drastically in need.

RANDOLPH BRACY, DENNIS BAXLEY, DOROTHY HUKILL CRUISE TO STATE SENATE VICTORIES via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Bracy, a Democratic state representative from the Orlando suburb or Oakland, made official what had been just needing a formality in the Orlando-based state Senate 11 seat, collecting virtually all the votes against two write-in opponents, based on early returns including all mail-in and early votes and many precincts in the Orange County district. Baxley, a Republican state representative from Ocala, also cruised virtually unanimously to victory in Senate District 12, which includes The Villages and northern Lake County. Hukill, a sitting Republican state senator whose district 8 had previously represented the villages, swept a closer race to win Senate District 14, farther to the east. With much of the vote in, she was drawing 68 percent and leading independent Richard Dembinsky, a former Democrat who had run elsewhere in the past, by more than 85,000 votes.

DANA YOUNG OUTPACES THREE RIVALS TO WIN TAMPA’S STATE SENATE SEAT via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times – Young easily defeated Democrat Bob Buesing and two no-party opponents Tuesday in the free-for-all to fill a newly created state Senate seat in Tampa’s District 18. With all precincts counted, Young celebrated her 52nd birthday a day early with more than 48 percent of the vote to represent Tampa and much of western Hillsborough County. … Young said the difference in the election was her campaign’s focus on “being face-to-face with voters since June.””We visited 85,000 families,” she said by telephone from her victory celebration at the Pane Rustica restaurant. “These are the things that win elections. There was never a day that went by that someone from my campaign wasn’t out on the streets meeting voters.”

ATTABOY Chris Spencer, who managed Young’s successful campaign after piloting Jeff Brandes and a constitutional amendment to victory during the primary elections.

JJR DEFEATS DLP – In one of the upsets of the election, Democrat Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez  defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla in Senate District 37.

ANITERE FLORES IS COMING BACK – Republican incumbent Flores faced a stiff challenge from Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, but held on to win. She is set to play a significant role in Senate leadership over the next two years.

FRANK ARTILLES PUNCHES HIS WAY TO VICTORY – In SD 40, Artilles entered the race as an underdog candidate. But he couldn’t be out-worked and rallied to crush Dwight Bullard.


“Despite facing unprecedented electoral obstacles, House Republicans had a great election night. We won seats that Republicans lost four years ago and despite predictions of Democratic waves in South and Central Florida, we brought home our Republican incumbents who will be joined by an outstanding class of change-oriented new members. We encouraged our Republican candidates to stick to their principles, focus on their communities, and ignore the national political noise. House Republicans brought their conservative reform message to the people of Florida who responded by returning an overwhelming Republican majority to the Florida House. The message from the 2016 election cycle is that voters are hungry for leadership and desperate for change. The new House Republican majority is ready and eager to embrace that challenge. It’s time to start cleaning up the political process, shutting down the influence of special interests, and bringing to the people of Florida the prosperity and opportunity that they deserve.”

TWEET, TWEET: @ChrisSprowls: Congratulations to @richardcorcoran @RepJoseOliva on a great night for the Republican Caucus in the Florida House. Well done!

AMANDA MURPHY UPSET via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Amber Mariano, the 21-year-old daughter of Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, defeated Murphy in House District 36. The Hudson Republican received 51 percent of the vote, or 34,337 votes, according to unofficial election results. Murphy, a New Port Richey Democrat, received 49 percent of the vote, or 33,589 votes. Mariano told the Tampa Bay Times she thought Trump “really helped” her out. Trump won Pasco County with 58 percent of the vote.

MIKE MILLER coasted to re-election in HD 47 defeating Beth Turra.

DOWN GOES (RENA) FRAZIER via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics – Incumbent Ross Spano was returned to the Florida House, defeating Democratic newcomer Frazier. With all 41 precincts reporting in the HD 59 contest, Spano led by about 10 points out of 73,095 votes cast. This race to represent a district that covers much of eastern Hillsborough turned ugly in the closing days, with charges by Democrats that a Spano mailer that cited Frazier’s lack of experience was sexist.

JACKIE TOLEDO EASILY DEFEATS DAVID SINGER IN HOUSE DISTRICT 60 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The 40-year-old Toledo ran an intriguing race, choosing to eschew any interviews and (mostly) ignoring the verbal slings and arrows from Singer, who ran a centrist campaign with a strong pitch to independents and moderate Republicans. Toledo barely edged out Rebecca Smith in the primary, but had no problem in dispensing of Singer, who ran an aggressive campaign, consistently trying to tie Toledo’s policies to those of Trump. Some of that stemmed from Toledo’s stance in the GOP primary, where she campaigned on a tough on illegal immigration platform, a stance she dropped once she got into the general. The Republican Party of Florida poured tens of thousands of dollars into the race. Singer was hoping he’d get a similar infusion of cash from the state Democratic Party, but that never occurred.

SHAWN HARRISON DEFEATS CHALLENGER IN HD 63 via Chris O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – Harrison was re-elected to state House District 63, bucking the trend of a seat that in recent years has swung Democrat during presidential year elections. He narrowly beat Democratic opponent Lisa Montelione, who resigned her position on the Tampa City Council to run for the New Tampa-university area seat. The 51-year-old attorney first won the seat in 2010 but lost it to Mark Danish two years later. He won the seat back in 2014.That experience was vital in finally winning re-election, he said. “We understand the district very well,” he said. “We had a specific plan to reach out to Democrats and we executed it very well.”

KATHLEEN PETERS WINS DISTRICT 69 SEAT via Waveney Ann Moore of the Tampa Bay Times – Peters beat out Democrat Jennifer Webb, a first-time candidate, for the District 69 seat, which covers south Pinellas beaches, South Pasadena, Gulfport and northwest St. Petersburg. “I feel great,” Peters said. “I have a great team here that has worked so hard to really get the word out about what a hard worker I am and my team is. I look forward to continuing the fight for people who don’t have a voice.” Tuesday’s unofficial results show Peters with 57 percent of the vote to Webb’s 43 percent.

DEMOCRATS WIN HOUSE SEAT VACATED BY ERIC FRESEN via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO – Democrat Daisy Baez defeated Republican attorney John Couriel for a Miami-Dade County seat in the state House of Representatives. Baez, a U.S. Army veteran, got 51 percent of the vote to Couriel’s 49 percent in House District 114, according to unofficial county election results. With Baez’s win, Democrats have flipped the seat from Republican control. She will replace state Rep. Erik Fresen, who served as the lower chamber’s education budget chief last session and who left the Legislature because of term limits. Baez unsuccessfully challenged Fresen in 2014.

ROUND-UP OF SOUTH FLORIDA STATE HOUSE RACES – In HD 103, incumbent Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr. pulled out a hard-fought victory in a tough race with Ivette Gonzalez Petrovich. In HD 105, incumbent Rep. Carlos Trujillo, expected to be among the House leadership’s inner circle heading into the 2017 legislative session, defeated Patricio Moreno. In HD 115, incumbent Rep. Michael Bileca defeated Jeffrey Doc Solomon. In HD 118, former Congressman and former State Rep. David Rivera fell short by 45 votes in his bid to return to elected office being defeated by Robert Asencio.

ON ELECTION NIGHT, FLORIDA CHAMBER HAPPY ABOUT ‘PRO-BUSINESS’ LEGISLATURE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – If Tuesday’s elections proved one thing, it was that Fair Districts didn’t make much difference in the Florida Legislature. That was the assessment from Marian Johnson, senior vice president for political strategy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, who spent the Chamber’s election night party in Tallahassee crunching data. The state Senate appeared to be shifting from a 26-14 GOP majority to 25-15. The House seemed headed for a similarly negligible shift. The Fair Districts initiative had been intended to break the Republican Party’s hold on legislative redistricting. “Fair Districts didn’t make the dent,” Johnson said. “People weren’t unseated.” Another lesson: The presidential candidates appeared to lack coattails to lift down-ballot party members. Clinton was leading in Orange County, for example, but the GOP’s Amber Mariano defeated Democrat Amanda Murphy in Pasco County. “You have two candidates here who no one likes,” Johnson said. “It would stand to reason that her coattails would not carry down.”

INCUMBENT LEGISLATORS EARN MIXED RESULTS IN BIDS FOR LOCAL OFFICE via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – State Sen. Alan Hays … was leading in his bid in a three-way race to become supervisor of elections in Lake County … Hays, the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and critic of state land-buying, ran for local office rather than in a redrawn district that included new areas. Hays was leading with 56 percent of the vote with 103 of 107 precincts counted. In early results, Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Democrat who was chairman of the Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs, was losing in a bid to become Hollywood mayor after leaving the Senate because of term limits. Josh Levy, who is general counsel at Hollywood Kia, a family business, was leading with 50 percent compared to Sobel with 24 percent in the four-way race. Rep. John Tobia … won his bid for the Brevard County Commission after being forced to leave the House because of term limits. Rep. Dave Kerner, a Democrat from Lake Worth who was elected to the House in 2012 and was Democratic deputy whip, won a seat on the Palm Beach County Commission. Rep. Alan Williams was losing in a bid for supervisor of elections in Leon County. He had 45 percent of the vote compared to 55 percent for Mark S. Earley, who worked in the elections office for outgoing Supervisor Ion Sancho.

DOWN-BALLOT RACES THROUGHOUT FLORIDA PROVIDED SOME INTERESTING RESULTS AS WELL via Bob Sparks of Florida Politics – With so many high-profile races going on in Florida, other down-ballot contests were on the ballot, but under the radar. Florida Politics pointed out 10 of those races to watch with backgrounds on each. While not as momentous as Trump winning Florida, these races were interesting in their own right.

— Miami-Dade County Mayor — 

Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez went from a confident incumbent to someone battling to keep his job. He and many others thought he could win another term on August 30. In the end, he was forced into a runoff with Raquel Regalado. After a judge threw out a challenge to Gimenez’s place on the ballot, the race was on. On Tuesday night, he earned a clear victory over Regalado garnering 55 percent of the vote. Regalado earned 44 percent. The margin of victory was nearly 100,000 votes.

— Kissimmee Mayor —

Jose Alvarez and Art Otero survived a highly contentious primary. These two sitting county commissioners squared off on Tuesday. When the votes were counted, Alvarez rolled to a fairly easy victory. With 11 of 12 precincts counted, he had an insurmountable 63 to 37 percent lead. Otero was a solid candidate, but helping Alvarez was the endorsement of the two labor unions representing the region’s theme park and hospitality workers.

— St. Cloud Mayor —

This race pitted a pastor against the community’s deputy mayor. Pastor James Nathan Blackwell wound up defeating Jeff Rinehart in a reasonably close race. Blackwell earned 56 percent of the vote, but his election may have been in doubt earlier when he got into some trouble from talking politics from the pulpit. In the end, he survived the legal challenge as well as the challenge from Rinehart.

— Orange County Commission —

The Orange County Commission District 5 race was an intense battle between the Incumbent Ted Edwards and Emily Bonilla. The race was dominated by an issue involving projects on Lake Pickett. When the votes were counted, Bonilla, an environmental activist, upset Edwards and won the seat. Her margin of victory was more than 11,000 votes out of more than 78,000 cast, translating to a 57 to 43 percent victory.

— Tampa City Council —

The Tampa City Council District 7 race was a free-for-all involving six candidates. This made it unlikely any candidate would earn a majority, which is precisely what happened. Jim Davison advanced to a runoff with Luis Viera. Davison earned 30 percent of the vote while Viera came in with 22 percent. Davison was put in the hot seat when he received a $1,000 contribution from the local Republican Party, which is forbidden for municipal candidates. He returned the contribution. Orlando GudesAvis Simone HarrisonGene Siudut and Cyril Spiro divided the remaining votes.

— Pinellas County Commission —

Charlie Justice was looking to keep his District 3 seat on the Pinellas County Commission. He faced a strong challenge from Republican retired businessman Mike Mikurak. Mikurak hammered Justice on his positions on zoning and environmental issues. He nearly pulled off the upset. When the votes were counted, Justice had a narrow 52-48 percent victory. His victory allows the Democratic Party to keep a 4-3 majority on the commission.

— Leon County Superintendent of Schools —

Democratic incumbent Jackie Pons was challenged by former friend Rocky Hanna in a bitter race for Leon County Superintendent of Schools. Hanna, a former member of Pons’s administration ran against him as a no party affiliate. A controversial television ad against Hanna backfired against Pons, prompting some prominent supporters to abandon him. Hanna built on his record generated during his successful tenure as principal at Tallahassee’s Leon High School. When the votes were counted, Hanna rolled to a convincing victory over Pons and two other candidates. Hanna earned 54 percent of the vote to 36 percent for Pons. Patricia Sunday and Forrest Van Camp split the remaining 10 percent.

— Leon County Sheriff —

This race involved four candidates, three of which switched party affiliations during the campaign. Incumbent Mike Wood, running as an NPA, was challenged by former Tallahassee Chief of Police Walt McNeil, a Democrat, as well as Republican Charlie Strickland and NPA Tommy Mills. McNeil described the incumbent Wood as “Rick Scott’s sheriff.” Wood was appointed by the governor following the death of long-time Sheriff Larry Campbell. McNeil won the race by earning 46 percent of the vote, while Strickland and Wood gained 25 and 24 percent, respectively.

— Jacksonville slots referendum —

Supporters of CR 1, which would allow slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities. Supporters were placing their bets on the ability of increased gambling to increase jobs. Apparently, that argument won the day because 54 percent of Duval County voters voted to approve the measure. One hurdle remains. The Florida Supreme Court is considering a case that would decide whether a countywide vote for slots is constitutional.

— Monroe County Zika Initiative —

The fight against Zika was put before Monroe County voters on Tuesday. Residents were called on to weigh in on deploying genetically modified insects. The measure was a non-binding poll and not a mandate. When the votes were counted, 57 percent voted in favor of the idea. While not binding, three of the mosquito control board members said before the election they would take the public’s view into account before moving forward.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.

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