2018 election Archives - Page 3 of 157 - Florida Politics

Geraldine Thompson topples Bobby Olszewski in HD 44

Democratic former state Sen. Geraldine Thompson is back, grabbing a House District from Republican state Rep. Bobby Olszewski that once was considered such safe Republican seat that no previous Democrat has ever been competitive.

Thompson claimed House District 44, covering suburban southwestern Orange County Tuesday night, defeating Olszewski by 2,000 votes and a 51 percent to 49 percent spread.

In her victory speech, Thompson declared that no Democrat, no woman, and no African-American candidate had ever had a chance there before, but “now you’ve got the trifecta!”

“This particular race shows we are moving to the point where we are knocking doors down, we are breaking the barriers,” Thompson said.

Despite being outspent five to one in the campaign, she returns to Tallahassee after previously serving in the Florida House in another district, and the in the Florida Senate in Senate District 11, which covers much of the same area, stretching from Winter Garden and Ocoee down through Windermere an Dr. Phillips and to the Orlando theme parks and tourist districts.

“It’s about serving everybody rather than just the special interests,” Thompson pledged.

Olszewski won the seat just 13 months ago in a special election.

Florida Constitution

Ballot B-Sides: Voters approve Amendments 7, 10, 11 and 12

Florida voters had to fight back some “ballot fatigue” Tuesday, with no less than a dozen amendments following the razzle dazzle races for Governor and U.S. Senate getting people to the polls in record numbers for a midterm election.

Some of those amendments have hogged the spotlight, none more so than Amendment 4, which would restore voting rights to an estimated 1.5 million non-violent felons who have paid their debt to society. But not every amendment can be a media darling.

The four “B-sides” that Florida voters decided on Tuesday: Amendment 7, Amendment 10, Amendment 11 and Amendment 12. Each of the four amendments put a wide array of changes above a single checkbox. All of earned enough support to pass.

The trio of changes in Amendment 7: Requiring death benefits to be paid to families of fallen police, firefighters and other first responders; curbing college cost hikes by blocking university trustees and the State University System’s Board of Governors from increasing fees unless they can muster a supermajority vote — 12 out of 17 in the BOG’s case; and changing they way the state’s 28 colleges are governed to bring them more in line with state universities.

As of 8:40 p.m., Amendment 7 was up 66-34 percent with more than 7.2 million votes counted.  It goes into effect on July 1.

Thanks to Amendment 8 getting booted off the ballot by Florida Courts, Amendment 10 was just two questions down, which likely left more than a few voters scratching their heads.

Also known as the “Protection Amendment,” Amendment 10 had wide support from local elected officials and had the lengthiest list of changes of the dozen proposals making the 2018 ballot.

From the top: Mandating that lawmakers keep their hands off the Department Veterans’ Affairs; a requirement that all county sheriffs, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, tax collectors, and clerks of court be elected rather than appointed; sets the start date for future even-year Legislative Sessions as the second Tuesday after the first Monday in January while stripping lawmakers of their ability to set the date; and creates the “Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism” under the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

As of 8:40 p.m., Amendment 10 was up 63-37 percent with more than 6.8 million votes counted.

Amendment 11’s trio of changes: Eliminating the Legislature’s authority to bar “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning, inheriting, buying, or selling property; clarifying the Legislature’s authority to apply criminal sentencing reforms retroactively; and excising the constitutional amendment requiring Florida to build a high-speed rail system — a mandate the Rick Scott administration never followed through on despite the feds offering beaucoup bucks to get the project rolling.

The Koch-backed ballot question was primed to pass with 62 percent support compared to 38 percent opposed.

The second-to-last proposal making the cut this year, Amendment 12, was the brainchild of former Senate President Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican. The initiative would bar ex lawmakers, local electeds and judges from doing lobbying work at their former haunts for 6 years from the date they leave office.

The current Rotunda-to-Adams Street pipeline features a two-year wait.

The other half of the amendment would clarify that sitting public officials, from dog catchers on up to the Governor’s Mansion, would be barred from doing local, state or federal lobbying work for pay. Pro bono work will still be considered Kosher.

Amendment 12 garnered an astounding 79 percent of the vote after 7.2 million ballots had been counted.

All four of the amendments were placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission, as were amendments to add a “crime victim bill of rights” to the constitution (Amendment 6), institute a ban on offshore drilling and workplace vaping (Amendment 9), and a ban on greyhound racing (Amendment 13).

vaping or vaporizing

Voters pass ban on offshore drilling, indoor vaping

An amendment that will ban offshore drilling and treated the public use of e-cigarettes like their analogue cousins was approved by Florida voters in Tuesday’s elections.

Amendment 9 was among a dozen initiatives Floridians considered in the ballot booth on Tuesday, and one of seven ballot questions green-lit by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

Amendment 9 rarely polled above the Mendoza line. Last week, a St. Pete Polls survey put the proposal on track to fail, with 46 percent of voters saying they were in the “Yes” column and 40 percent saying they were firmly in the “No” camp. It’s only ray of hope was to run the table on undecideds.

In the end, it did. And then some.

As of 8:40 p.m., Amendment 9 was up 69-31 percent with more than 6.8 million votes counted. Constitutional amendments must garner 60 percent of the vote to pass.

The proposed amendment served as the poster child for the many curious combos made by the CRC. For environmentally conscious cloud chasers in particular, the measure was something of a Sophie’s Choice: Jettison their JUULs and conserve Florida’s coastlines, or keep puffing and put them in peril.

Despite Amendment 9’s two prongs being of inequitable importance to most, that pairing wasn’t a poison pill.

Still, its passage doesn’t mean Florida’s making as any less “drill, baby, drill” than it was yesterday. There are already measures in Florida statute that prevent oil companies from taking root on the parts of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts that fall under state jurisdiction.

The current law: “No permit to drill a gas or oil well shall be granted at a location in the tidal waters of the state, abutting or immediately adjacent to the corporate limits of a municipality or within 3 miles of such corporate limits extending from the line of mean high tide into such waters, unless the governing authority of the municipality shall have first duly approved the application for such permit by resolution.”

Amendment 9 won’t bring too many changes to vaping either, at least not right away. Since that provision only applied to “enclosed indoor workplaces with exceptions,” vapers used to taking drags in their favorite dive bar will still be able to, so long as MGMT is on board.

Where some substantial changes could come from is through another provision included in that ballot allowing Florida counties and cities to draw up “more restrictive local vapor ordinances.”

According to the full text of the amendment, it will go into effect “no later than July 1 of the year following voter approval.”

Amendment 5

Supermajority tax amendment approved by supermajority of voters

A ballot measure that requires a two-thirds vote by the state Legislature for any future tax increases was approved by Florida voters Tuesday.

Amendment 5 was up 66 percent-34 percent as of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Constitutional amendments need no less than 60 percent of the vote to pass.

Also known as the “Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees” amendment, it’s one of a dozen amendments on the statewide General Election ballot. It, along with a pair of property tax proposals, was placed on the ballot by the Florida Legislature.

Five days out from Election Day, voters were teetering between enshrining the amendment in the state’s governing document and telling state lawmakers to kick rocks with 47 percent in favor and 34 percent opposed.

In the end, quite a few more than the 19 percent of voters who said they were undecided last week ended up breaking toward “yes.”

Specifically, Amendment 5 requires two-thirds of both legislative chambers — that is, 80 members of the House and 27 members of the Senate — to approve any new taxes or fees or to increase existing ones.

Critics railed against the proposal, saying it would make it far more difficult to pass such measures at the state level.

If the Legislature’s hands were tied by a future economic crisis, such as the Great Recession that dominated the end of the Charlie Crist era and the first act of Rick Scott’s tenure in Tallahassee, the anti-A5 crowd crowed that state lawmakers’ efforts to keep the books in the black could be derailed by a handful of elected officials in the “taxed enough already” troupe.

Unlike the two property tax measures green-lit for the 2018 ballot, however, Amendment 5 will not impact tax and fee collections by county and municipal governments.

Political committee Floridians for Tax Fairness spent $1.7 million this election cycle fighting Amendment 5 and Amendment 1, a measure which would have upped homestead exemptions by another $25,000. In the end, the Joseph Pennisi-chaired committee went one for two on Election Day.

The amendment goes into effect Jan. 8.

Republicans keep all four Brevard County House seats

Republicans are sweeping all four Florida House seats Tuesday, returning state Reps. Rene Plasencia, Thad Altman, and Randy Fine to office and keeping the other in GOP control by electing Tyler Sirois.

None of the four had much trouble, in what turned out to be a pretty red wave washing ashore along the Space Coast.

Plasencia, a former high school teacher and cross country coach from Orlando, whose House District 50 stretches from east Orange into northwest Brevard, defeated Democrat Pam Dirschka. He won a third term in the house, but his second term representing HD 50. He crushed Dirschka in her home Brevard County 65 percent to 35 percent, rolling up a 9,000 vote lead, though she won his Orange County by 1,000 votes, and a 51-49 spread.

Sirois, executive director for the state attorney’s office for Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit, from Merritt Island, overcame Democrat Mike Blake, a teacher and former Cocoa Mayor, to take House District 51, an open seat. With just a couple of districts not reporting yet, Sirois led 58 percent to 42 percent.

Altman,  president of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation and an Indialantic resident, beat Seeta Durjan Begui, a Melbourne nurse. He won a second term in HD 52, though he has served continuously in the Florida Legislature since 2003, having earlier served in another house district, then two terms in the Florida Senate.

Altman had no problem, crushing her 64 percent to 36 percent.

Fine, a businessman from South Brevard County, had a little closer race, but Democrat Phil Moore, an athletic trainer from West Melbourne, 55 percent to 45 percent. That wins Fine a second term representing HD 53.

Anna Eskamani elected in HD 47

Riding what arguably has been a movement based entirely on her campaign, Democratic Anna Eskamani is on her way to easy election Tuesday to Florida’s House District 47, flipping the seat and sending the progressive avenger to Tallahassee.

Eskamani, a young progressive activist and former Planned Parenthood official, defeated Republican businessman and former political consultant Stockton Reeves to take HD 47, 57 percent to 43 percent, flipping the seat currently held by Republican state Rep. Mike Miller.

From the very start her campaign broke molds and eventually set records as Eskamani brought her unabashedly-liberal platform and legions of supporters from the Orange County progressive community she had helped lead for several years as an activist.

HD 47 might be a purple district, leaning just four points Democratic in voter registration, but she campaigned for the deep-blue votes to be found in the urban neighborhoods around downtown Orlando, while also reaching out to the traditionally more Republican neighborhoods in Winter Park and the south Orange County suburbs of Belle Isle and Edgewood.

Reeves and the Republican Party, meanwhile, hammered her as a “radical” and cast him as a moderate, to no avail.

Eskamani, 28, of Orlando, raised more than a half-million dollars for her campaign and attracted national attention in numerous ways, starting with appearing on Time Magazine’s cover in January as one of the women’s march “avengers” set out to redefine politics from a woman’s perspective, and ending last week with features playing on youth-oriented shows on MTV News and Vice News.

She also pushed her own story, the daughter of Iranian immigrants who’d worked hard and sacrificed to achieve the American Dream for their children, and how she became committed to public service after her mother died from cancer.

In winning, Eskamani joins two other unapologetic progressive Democrats, state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Amy Mercado, who also easily won Tuesday, with a platform locked into women’s rights, gay rights, gun law reform, public education funding, minimum wage increases, and declaration of health care as a right for all.

Darren Soto coasts to easy re-election in CD 9

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto won himself a second term as the only Puerto Rican member of Congress from Florida, representing Florida’s most Puerto-Rican district.

Soto, of Celebration defeated Republican businessman Wayne Liebnitzky Tuesday in a rematch of the election that sent Soto to Congress in 2018.This time Soto won 58 percent to 42 percent, running up big vote totals in Orange and Osceola counties, while Liebnitzky won by a slight margin in Polk County.

Soto represents a district that sprawls across all of Osceola County and much of south Orange and east Polk counties, taking in a number of communities that have been rapidly growing, and particularly growing with Puerto Rican migrants in the two years since he first took office.

Liebnitzky largely campaigned on issues tied to support of President Donald Trump and his economic policies, particularly of tax cuts and free enterprise. However, Soto pushed a mixture of moderate Democratic positions on economic issues with calls for vigorous environmental protection policies and a strong stand on gun law reforms.

Stephanie Murphy solidifies claim to CD 7

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who quickly went from “who’s she?” to “how did she do that?” when she ran for and won a stunning upset in Florida’s 7th Congressional District in 2016, is no longer anyone’s surprise, as she won easy re-election victory Tuesday.

Murphy, of Winter Park, defeated Republican state Rep. Mike Miller 58 percent to 42 percent Tuesday, claiming a lock on a district that her Republican predecessor had owned for 24 years.

Murphy won both in Orange County and in the more conservative Seminole County, providing Miller, also of Winter Park, no place to go to look for a base.

After her victory, Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo issued the following statement, “Over the last two years, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy has proven to be one of the most effective leaders in Congress and tonight her community recognized her hard work with their overwhelming support at the ballot box.

“Congresswoman Murphy has cut through Washington’s gridlock to deliver real results, including $100 million for K-12 schools and universities in central Florida in the wake of Hurricane Maria and the lifting of the 22-year ban on federally-sponsored gun violence research. Congratulations to Congresswoman Murphy on her well-deserved victory tonight,” she concluded.

Her re-election victory rewards a first term that saw her cutting a decidedly centrist path in Congress, rejecting siren calls from the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, though she was a frequent critic, and occasional legislative opponent, of President Donald Trump’s foreign affairs policies.

Miller, who had cut his own moderate path on many issues in the Florida House of Representatives, nonetheless took staunchly conservative positions on social issues such as abortion and gun reform, for which Murphy held liberal views. Yet he tried to characterize her chiefly as a tax-and-spend liberal, and she easily shrugged the attacks as largely false.

The result showed a socially-progressive voter base in the increasingly urban Seminole County and decidedly urban north and central Orange County that, at the least, preferred her overall package.


Whodunit? Election Day numbers a mystery in blue strongholds

Those who want to watch the ballots trickle in minute-to-minute on Election Day can do so with a little knowhow, but that real-time data is lacking numbers from more than a dozen counties, including some of the most reliably Democratic ones in the state.

The thirteen counties lagging: DeSoto, Hamilton, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lake, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Orange, Palm Beach, Putnam, Sarasota, Suwannee and Taylor.

Together, those counties are home to more than a third of Florida voters. Miami-Dade and Palm Beach alone account for 2.37 million registered voters — nearly 18 percent of the state’s 13.27 million voters.

More important for armchair statisticians: More than a fifth of the state’s 4.94 million Democrats live in those two counties.

And most important: The 675,000 mail and early votes sent in by those counties have sent in numbers for account for 13 percent of the total votes and 32 percent Democratic Party votes cast through Monday.

For top-of-ticket Democrats, there is no road to the Governor’s Mansion or the U.S. Senate that avoids South Florida. And for both Republicans and Democrats, there’s no road without Orange or Hillsborough, home to roughly one in eight voters in the Sunshine State.

Those two counties had tabulated more than a quarter million mail and early votes but accounted for only 4.8 percent of the vote as of Monday’s data dump.

There are some reliable GOP counties that are shrouded at the moment, too, but none so important to Republicans as Dade and Palm Beach are to Democrats. If an argument could be made for any, it would be Sarasota County. But as red as it’s gone in the past it’s only home to about 135K of Florida’s 4.68 million Republicans.

All told, the 13 counties keeping mum had produced 1.8 million ballots through yesterday, or about 34.6 percent of the pre-Election Day total.

Keith Perry leads in final poll of SD 8

Incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry leads Democratic challenger Kayser Enneking by 4 points in the final poll of Senate District 8.

But his margin is less compared to 2016, when the Gainesville-based district backed him over former state Sen. Rod Smith by 6 points.

According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, Perry is netting 48 percent of the vote to Enneking’s 44 percent. The margin of error is 3.8 percentage points.

The no-party spoiler in the race, former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston, is snaking 5 percent of the vote, with the balance still undecided.

Two-thirds of voters say they’ve voted and Enneking built up a 5-point lead among them, 49 percent-44 percent. But, as always, Election Day will be key. And among that crowd, Perry is absolutely dominating, 54-32 percent.

The good news for Enneking: Democrats are backing her in greater numbers than they have in past polls. She’s pulling in 72 percent of her base, though Goston — a lifelong Democrat until he was booted from the city commission in a May runoff — is still taking 6 percent.

The good news for Perry: He’s still netting 85-plus percent of the Republican vote, and his 17 percent support among registered Democrats is more than significant in this district, where the blue team holds a 7-point lead in voter registrations. He’s also up 3 points among Millennial voters.

If that age group turns out in significant numbers and if that margin holds, it would be another kind of victory for Perry — SD 8 is home to 50,000-plus University of Florida students with another 20,000-plus taking classes at Santa Fe College.

If young voters end up voting D, Perry also has slight leads among Gen Xers, 47-46 percent, younger Boomers, 49-44 percent, and voters over 70, 47-41 percent. Those slices make up the vast majority of the district’s likely voters, so those margins virtually assure his re-election supposing they hold.

But the good news for Perry doesn’t end there.

Broken down by race, Perry is taking 55 percent of the white vote to Enneking’s 40 percent. Non-Hispanic whites make up 71 percent of the district’s voting age population.

Enneking is taking three-fifths of the black vote while Perry and Goston, who is black, are splitting another 30 percent. By gender, men say they want to stay the course by a 49 percent-41 percent margin while women are split 46-46 percent.

SD 8 is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections. About 55 percent of the district’s population lives in Alachua County, while 30 percent live in northern Marion County and the remaining 15 percent live in Putnam County.

Perry’s six-point win over former FDP Chair and former state Sen. Rod Smith two years ago came alongside a razor thin victory for President Donald Trump. His two-tenths-of-a-point victory in the purple district was the closest of margin among the state’s 40 Senate districts. Perry outperformed POTUS by more than 5 points.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted Monday. It has a sample size of 681 and a margin of error is 3.8 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

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