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Politics

2016 Election Winners and Losers in Florida

November 9, 2016 - 9:45am
Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio, Joe Garcia and Allison Tant
Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio, Joe Garcia and Allison Tant

After going twice for Barack Obama, Florida returned to the Republican fold Tuesday night. Donald Trump carried the Sunshine State, part of his perfectly crafted electoral path to the White House.

While overshadowed by Trump’s upset win over Hillary Clinton, several winners and losers emerged in Florida after the dust settled on Election Day. Here’s a look at some of them:

WINNERS

Charlie Crist. One of the strangest careers in Florida political history took another turn Tuesday night. After two failed bids to get to Washington as a senator, Crist -- with the help of redistricting -- is headed to the House after his win over incumbent Republican David Jolly. Crist won three statewide offices as a Republican before ditching the GOP to run for the Senate with no party affiliation after being caught in the primary by Marco Rubio in 2010. Two years later, Crist joined the Democrats. In 2014, he was the Democratic nominee who came up short against Rick Scott. With that kind of history, Crist will get more attention than most freshmen in the minority party. He offered one of the few bright spots for Democrats in Florida on Election Day. 

Carlos Curbelo. Sure, the Miami Republican refused to back Trump and that might hurt as he looks to move up the congressional ladder. But Curbelo won big in a district that was increasingly friendly to Democrats after redistricting. Curbelo routed Democrat Joe Garcia, whom he beat back in 2014, and claimed a second term. No sophomore slump for this South Florida congressman, who was able to win over voters while still keeping his distance from Trump.

Blaise Ingoglia. The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida scored another big win and its chairman should get some of the credit. Ingoglia was in a tight spot with Trump feuding with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio earlier in the year. But Ingoglia was able to get Republicans across the Sunshine State on the same page -- no small task. After the latest round of redistricting, Republicans faced some tough battles. But they won far more often than they lost and Trump and Rubio scored big wins. A great day for Ingoglia.

Brian Mast. Thanks to Mast, Republicans flipped the congressional seat held by Patrick Murphy, who lost to Rubio. A combat-wounded veteran, Mast was able to ride the same outsider wave that Trump did to victory in the Sunshine State. There are plenty of new faces in the Florida congressional delegation and Mast is one of the more memorable. Keep an eye on him as he heads to Washington. 

John Morgan. The high profile attorney and Democratic fundraiser was the main force behind Amendment 2 to expand medical marijuana in Florida. Unlike 2014, when it came up short, this time the proposal passed with little difficulty. Even as Morgan continued to pop up on radio airwaves, TV stations and billboards across Florida, both for Amendment 2 and his law firm, he actually played a smaller role than he did in 2014 when his relaxed attempt to rally supporters went viral. This time Morgan was more of a professional and it paid off on Tuesday night as Amendment 2 crossed the finish line.

Marco Rubio. After losing 66 of 67 counties to Trump and bowing out of the presidential race back in March, Rubio needed a big win to keep his national ambitions alive. He did just that on Tuesday night, outperforming old rival Trump and staying in the Senate. It’ll be interesting to see how Rubio does with the GOP keeping the majority and Trump in the White House. There could be challenges down the road. But, for the moment, Rubio had a great night on Tuesday.

Linda Stewart. There have been more than a few defeats in this Orlando Democrat’s career, but she came back on Tuesday. After one term in the Florida House, Stewart was turned out in 2014. But now she is headed back to Tallahassee, this time as a member of the state Senate. Stewart beat Republican Dean Asher after scoring an upset back in the primaries in August. It was one of the more unlikely comebacks in Florida after her loss in 2014.


LOSERS

Amendment 1. This proposed state constitutional amendment on solar power came up far short of the 60 percent needed to pass Tuesday night. The proposal had drawn considerable fire, but it also had the support of plenty of utility companies, which opened up their wallets to get it over the finish line. It simply didn't happen and even some firefighters who appeared in a commercial for it came out against in the final days of the campaign. 

Joe Garcia. The former congressman sought redemption Tuesday night in South Florida. But he lost out to Curbelo who bested him two years ago. The Democratic established favored Annette Taddeo over Garcia in the primary, thanks in part to his history of gaffes and losses. Tuesday was only the latest in a series of losses for the Miami Democrat, even as the district looked far more hostile to Republicans. 

John Mica. Four years ago, Mica crushed Sandy Adams in a rare primary pitting two congressional incumbents against each other. But Mica went down to unheralded Democrat Stephanie Murphy Tuesday, ending 24 years in Congress. Mica was hindered by changing demographics in Central Florida. One other problem was redistricting, as only 60 percent of the district had been represented by Mica before. A rare disappointment for Florida Republicans Tuesday. 

Rod Smith. The Gainesville Democrat tried to get back to the Florida Senate but he ended up losing out to Republican Keith Perry. The losses continue to pile up for Smith after a failed gubernatorial bid in 2006 and a stint as Alex Sink’s running mate in 2010. Democrats had high hopes for Smith and he did lead the state party in 2012. But he failed to live up to those expectations and came up short Tuesday. 

Allison Tant. Another Election Day, another big loss for Democrats in the Sunshine State. Tant, the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, presided over another disaster for her party. Despite redistricting helping them, Democrats made limited gains in the state Legislature. Tant continues to show she isn’t up to the job and Tuesday was just the latest example of that.

Jeb Bush. After getting thumped by him in the presidential primaries, the former Florida governor refused to support Donald Trump. Before the primaries, Bush was one of the most popular GOP leaders in the Sunshine State, even, at times, overshadowing the likes of Mel Martinez, Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, despite leaving office at the end of 2006. Bush is far less prominent and powerful with the Florida GOP now, and that was clear as Trump carried Florida. 

Tom Rooney. This Florida Republican jumped off the Trump bandwagon in October after reports surfaced of the GOP presidential candidate using vulgar language and charges of sexual harassment were thrown at him. Rooney’s been mentioned as a possible candidate for higher office down the road, but this could hurt him with Trump supporters in a future Republican primary.

Comments

The real Obama legacy....taking Alexander Hamilton, a fierce patriot, Revolutionary War hero, right hand man to George Washington and father of our banking system...off the $10 bill to be replaced by a black woman. Not that Harriet Tubman is not due recognition...her accomplishments in her day and time were remarkable - but not such that she should be on our currency. I nominated her for the statute replacing the great Kirby. Way to go, Obama. Get ready for some executive actions!

It was the League of Women Voters who took the solar amendment down. Those people just don't stop! They don't get worn out, they just keep on coming, and there are a lot of them all over the state.

What about the crystal ball gazers, pundits and pollsters who predicted a Clinton win in FL?

The bigest loser is the Ametican people who are about to find out why voting Trump in was a stupid idea as their money, the economy drops big time....... Within a yr it'll be in full recession if not by summer...... And what about his criminal court cases that are coming up soon? And unlike Clinton, Trump is guilty having actually done them.

To be accurate, the cases coming up re: Trump are civil, for damages, not criminal.

Rubio still sucks but I'll try to have an open mind since we all now have President Trump!

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