Saying the Democratic Party needs a gubernatorial nominee with the passion to be “transformational” in addressing gun legislation, Chris King on Wednesday went after poll-leader Gwen Graham, contending that when she was in Congress she “never supported an assault weapons ban.”
Speaking in Tallahassee Wednesday, King said the party needs “a champion for gun safety and for a ban on weapons of war.”
“Gwen Graham, who is a good person, but in my view has not demonstrated a record that is passionate about eliminating weapons of war from our streets. In Congress, Congresswoman Graham never supported an assault weapons ban,” King told reporters.
Graham’s campaign disputed King’s assertion that she lacks passion to pursue an assault weapons ban, saying she had been on the front lines pushing for gun reform, including in Orlando and in Washington following the June 12, 2016, massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. She dismissed King’s affront as a “small attack.”
“These attacks are predictable, but sad. Democrats attacking fellow Democrats won’t do anything to solve the mass-shooting crisis,” she said in a written statement. “That’s a choice my opponents are making — all I can tell you is, it was a lot harder beating an NRA-endorsed Republican congressman [U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland] and nearly $300,000 in NRA money spent against me than dealing with these small attacks from fellow Democrats.”
King and Graham also are competing with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary. All four have come out with strong positions seeking bans on assault weapons. King mentioned neither Gillum nor Levine, though he did say the Democratic field was full of tough candidates.
King contended that the call of students and families touched by the massacre at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland included a call for addressing assault weapons, and that the legislation that has emerged has fallen far short. He said the state needs a Democratic governor, “and we have had them in the past, we have had Democratic governors from LeRoyCollins to LawtonChiles,” who “created a political climate around issues they felt strongly about.” (In those historical references, King may have implicitly included but didn’t specifically mention Gov. Bob Graham, Gwen Graham’s father.)
“This was a massive incident of gun violence. And our one-party state government … has not even been willing to debate, to debate, the discussion on banning the sale of weapons of war in the state of Florida. I feel so strongly about this issue, and I would be a governor that, if I could not do this legislatively, I would work to use the bully pulpit to do it through the amendment process,” King said.
“I believe the next governor of Florida has to be transformational, and has to be transformational on the issue of gun safety. They have to have an appetite, an energy, a passion for this because this is a tough issue,” King said. “This is going to be a hard change to make in the state of Florida. The forces against us are tough. But I believe I’m that candidate.”
He then went after Graham, saying that several major mass shootings occurred while Graham was in Congress, including the San Bernardino shooting of 2015. King said that 151 House Democrats sponsored or cosponsored a bill to ban assault weapons, and that another 24 Democrats joined after the Pulse massacre. [In fact, House Resolution 4269, the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2015,” had a total of 149 cosponsors, all Democrats, including the 24 who signed on in the two weeks immediately following the Pulse mass murder.]
“As far as I can tell, Congresswoman Graham, when she was serving there, never added her name as a cosponsor,” King said.
However, her campaign contended she has had a long record, otherwise, of pushing for gun law reforms, including regulation of armor-piercing bullets; that she had, two weeks after the Pulse massacre, come to Orlando where she called for taking weapons of war off our streets; and had, last summer, become the first candidate for governor to release a full plan for gun safety, including banning large-capacity magazines and assault weapons.
An attempt by Orlando Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith to get the state to provide $1 million to help build a Pulse nightclub memorial in Orlando drew some crossover votes from Republicans (including many from Central Florida) but failed in the House Tuesday night.
The proposal got yes votes from all Democrats, and eight Republicans, including five from Central Florida: state Reps. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs, Mike Miller of Winter Park, Bobby Olszewski of Winter Garden, Rene Plasencia of Orlando, and Scott Plakon of Longwood. They joined Smith and other Central Florida Democratic state Reps. Bruce Antone of Orlando, Kamia Brown of Ocoee, John Cortes of Kissimmee, and Amy Mercado of Orlando. Republican state Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen of Fort Myers, Chris Latvala of Clearwater, and Holly Raschein of Key Largo also voted yes.
Among the Central Florida delegation voting against the $1 million for the Pulse memorial fund were Republican state Reps. Jason Brodeur of Sanford, Mike La Rosa of St. Cloud, David Santiago of Deltona, and Jennifer Sullivan of Mount Dora.
The OnePulse Foundation has been planning and raising money for a major memorial and museum on the site of the former popular Orlando gay nightclub where 49 people were murdered in the early morning hours of June 12, 2016.
Smith, who has been intensely outspoken in trying to get the Florida Legislature to address Pulse alongside its efforts to address the Feb. 14 massacre at Douglas High School, declared on Twitter late Tuesday night that he was disappointed, but he expressed thanks “to the 8 Republicans who voted YES.”
“49 deeply symbolic votes in support of remembering our 49 angels,” Smith added.
Expressing frustration with what the Florida Legislature is doing with guns and schools, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is placing another nearly $2 million buy for statewide TV commercials this month, his campaign announced Monday.
The commercials will continue for a while with his “We Will” spot that launched in late February on a $750,000 statewide-buy, declaring the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “a wakeup call we can’t ignore.” By mid-March that likely will be replaced by a new TV commercial, his campaign indicated.
Levine is running against former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination. He is the only Democrat to air TV commercials yet, and his buys already have gone over $4 million prior to March. The leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.
The latest TV buy will be split between Levine’s independent political committee “All About Florida” and his official Levine for Governor campaign. All About Florida will be spending $630,000 to continue running “We Will” through about March 11, while the official campaign will spend about $1.3 million on TV commercials for the rest of the month. All the commercials will run statewide, in either English or Spanish, depending upon the stations.
“As the Republican Legislature continues their political double talk on legislation, Mayor Philip Levine has made it clear that the time is now to enact sensible gun safety reforms that take Florida from having the weakest gun safety laws in the nation to the strongest,” declared a statement released by campaign consultant Christian Ulvert. “The Mayor opposes efforts to arm teachers with weapons and reaffirms the public’s call for an assault weapons ban, raising the age to 21 for gun purchases, and universal background checks, in addition to closing any loopholes.”
In the current “We Will” commercial Levine expresses his goals of “reasonable gun regulations, better background checks, and a permanent ban on assault rifles.”
The commercial begins with Levine standing next to a school bus saying, “When we send our children off to school, we want to know they’re safe. But here in Florida, despite 14 school shootings in 8 years, we still have some of the weakest gun laws in the nation. And the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High is a wakeup call we can’t ignore.
Orange County voters might not have the choice to vote for a Democrat for the position of sheriff this year even though it is a partisan office and Democrats dominate the county’s voter rolls.
There are two registered Democrats, Orlando Police Chief John Mina and retired Florida Highway Patrol Maj. Jose “Joe” Lopez, running for sheriff in Orange County. But neither will appear on November’s ballot as a Democrat. Mina already is running as an independent, and Lopez would have to change to independent status to stay in the race this year.
They both used to be Republicans. And they both switched and joined the Democratic Party last year — too late to be able to qualify to run this year as Democrats.
Officially, the office doesn’t come up again for re-election until 2020, so both Mina and Lopez would be OK if that’s when the election took place. Demings, who was just re-elected in 2016, is running for Orange County mayor this year. He is expected to stay in that race [for which he’s the early favorite] and therefore submit his resignation by June 8, to take effect in December. That would open up his sheriff’s office to special elections this year for a two-year term, with partisan primaries set for August 28 and a general election for Nov. 6.
Florida law says a candidate has to wait 365 days to run as a partisan after joining a party.
Mina switched his party affiliation on Sept. 1, 2017, becoming a Democrat four days too late to be able to run in the 2018 Democratic primary. Two weeks ago, he filed to run for sheriff as an independent candidate.
Lopez switched his party affiliation on Dec. 19, 2017, becoming a Democrat months too late to run under the party. Nonetheless, on Feb. 1 he filed to run for sheriff as a Democrat. He would have to switch to independent status by the June qualifying period to be on a ballot this year, Orange County Supervisor of ElectionsBill Cowles said.
Lopez said on Monday he was considering an independent run. But he also held out the prospect that Demings might change his mind. So, Lopez said he is considering not officially revising his status unless and until he officially has to, and that would not be until Demings submits his resignation.
That’s not a problem for the third candidate in the contest. Retired Orange County Sheriff’s Capt. Thomas Stroup has been a Republican at least since 1994, which is how far back the county’s electronic records go.
If any other Republicans enter the race, there would be an August 28 primary, and Stroup would be in it. If not, or if he wins such a primary, he can appear on the Nov. 6 ballot as a Republican.
Meanwhile, if any other Democrats decide to get into the race, they could grab the Democrats’ track onto a November ballot that also could feature Republican Stroup and independents Mina and Lopez.
Normally, Democrats can expect a huge advantage in Orange County. Party members currently hold all county constitutional offices: sheriff, supervisor of elections, clerk of courts, tax collector, comptroller and property appraiser. Forty-two percent of the county’s voters are registered as Democrats, and 27 percent as Republicans. Independent voters make up 31 percent of the Orange County electorate.
With little opposition raised — except for Democrats’ votes against three recent appointments to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission — the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee recommended Monday that the chamber back all 89 appointments and nominations awaiting confirmation.
The committee’s favorable recommendations include Florida Secretary of Environmental Protection Noah Valenstein, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director PhillipEric Sutton, Secretary of the Department of the Florida Lottery Jim Poppell, Florida Secretary of Management Services Erin Marie-Geraghty Rock, and Florida Secretary of Transportation Michael Dew.
Of them, Valenstein received a bit of grilling from Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez of Miami on Everglades restoration and from Democratic Sen. Victor Torres on fracking; and Dew was grilled by Torres and Rodriguez on local projects, and particularly hard by Republican Sen. Tom Lee on longterm funding plans, given concerns about trends in transportation. But both earned unanimous recommendations of approval, as did almost every nomination before the committee Monday.
For a while, Lee laid into Dew, all but accusing the transportation head of not convincing him that the department was doing enough to prepare for rising popularity of electric cars, the ensuing decline of gasoline taxes, and the consequential potential for major revenue and budgetary crunches for Florida’s transportation systems.
As Lee questioned him on the technology and consumer trends toward less gasoline, and the state’s population and transportation trends, Dew kept assuring that those were items that his staff kept track of, but that he could not offer the committee any specifics.
Lee pressed for the department’s projections, and Dew responded, “I’ll have to get back to you on that.” Lee pressed for whether and when gas tax revenue might fall below increasing Florida needs, and Dew responded, “I’d have to plot that out.
Finally, Lee seemed to lose all patience when Dew appeared to hedge on even accepting what Lee was proposing, that trend lines meant there is or will be an inevitable disparity between the state’s tax revenue and transportation expenses.
“So you don’t know there is a dramatic disparity? You’re the secretary of the Department of Transportation, and you you’re telling don’t know that there has been a disparity in the amount of gas tax raised per capita over the past 20 years in this state?” Lee challenged.
“Senator, I know that trend is there, I just don’t want to quote you a figure incorrectly,” Dew offered.
“So, again, what is it you recommend we do?” Lee demanded.
‘”My recommendation is that we continue to watch the problem,” Dew responded. “It’s something we have to watch for right now, but it is not going to be a ‘tomorrow’ problem.”
With that, Dew got an 8-0 vote recommending his confirmation.
The only nominees who did not get unanimous support were three recent appointees to FWC, who previously had been flagged for criticism in a report in the Tampa Bay Timesbecause none of them appeared to have any previous background in wildlife conservation.
The panel’s three Democrats, Torres, Rodriguez, and Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens all voted against supporting the appointments of Gary Lester, vice president of community relations at The Villages; Gary Nicklaus, 48, son of golfing great Jack Nicklaus; and Sonya Rood, 53, wife of developer and former Bahamas ambassador John Rood, who is also former chief financial officer of the Republican Party of Florida. They each got 5-3 approvals from the committee.
Gun-reform measures released by Gov. RickScott and leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature are being hailed as the greatest proposed deviations from hard line pro-gun laws in the Sunshine State in recent history — but Democratic officials, groups and politicians have been quick to claim the proposals are inadequate.
The legislative initiatives released Friday are intended to address issues unearthed by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre. Scott and the Legislature have proposed banning the sale of bump stocks and raising the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of all guns, with some exceptions for military and law enforcement personnel.
Both plans have hefty price tags. The Legislature wants to allocate $263 million for school safety improvements and $102 million for mental health services; respectively, Scott wants $450 million and $50 million.
The Legislature is backing the idea of the “Marshal Program,” in which school faculty members are trained to carry firearms on campuses. Scott does not support the idea.
State leadership announced the measures in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 19-year-old NikolasCruz fatally shot 17 students and teachers with an assault rifle.
As expected, the Parkland-inspired proposals are not being lauded across party lines. At the crux of Democrats’ criticism is the absence of a proposed ban on assault weapons.
Democratic U.S. Sen. BillNelson:
Instead of listening to students & parents, Gov. Scott’s plan bows to the NRA’s demands. It does not expand criminal background checks or ban assault rifles, such as the AR-15. Raising the age to 21 is the bare minimum. We need to get these assault rifles off our streets.
“The Governor’s proposal still falls well short on assault weapons, even though this is the time for a statewide ban and Marjory Stoneman Douglas students are demanding one,” Gillum’s campaign said in a written statement. “Republicans’ own polling shows a majority, including a majority of Florida gun owners, want a ban on these weapons of war.”
But, citing a Republican-commissioned poll that shows the majority of Floridians and state gun owners support a ban on assault weapons, the campaign criticized Scott for not attempting to halt assault rifle sales.
Gubernatorial candidate GwenGraham:
The proposals announced Friday were “too little, too late.”
“Investing in safer schools is long overdue — and must be prioritized and fully funded this year. … Raising the age for purchasing all firearms is long overdue — and must be passed this Legislative session,” Graham said in a statement. She also called for an assault weapons ban.
Gubernatorial candidate PhillipLevine:
Levine agreed with “making school safety a top priority in Florida,” along with providing for more intensive background checks, mental health screens and additional law enforcement resources at schools.
But, joining the battle cry of his Democratic colleagues, Levine ultimately criticized the Legislature and Scott for not banning assault rifles.
“The elephant in the room is still there: we must get assault rifles off the streets and away from our schools. Permanently,” Levine said in a prepared statement. “Freedom should not come with a warning label: ‘These guns may be harmful to children’s survival,’ but with a guarantee that these killing weapons remain on the battlefields, not in classrooms.”
Gubernatorial candidate ChrisKing:
“In 20 years of one-party rule, Florida’s leaders have utterly failed to take action to end the scourge of gun violence in our state and today’s proposals from Governor Scott and the GOP legislature are too little, too late. Governor Scott’s plan does nothing to ensure universal background checks and would not ban military-style assault weapons. Tallahassee has ignored our voices for far too long––their time to act was long before Parkland or Pulse. Now we must take up the cause ourselves and elect new leaders who offer fresh ideas, bold solutions.”
Senate Minority Leader OscarBraynon:
“We can beef up mental health screenings, raise the age for gun purchases, and dream up other stopgap measures, but the threat to our children and our citizens will continue until we finally take bold action ban assault weapons designed for the battlefield from easy access in our communities. Without that, the voices of the students, and the will of the people, continue to be ignored.”
House Minority Leader JanetCruz:
“These measures backed by the gun lobby are unacceptable. If leadership is truly willing to have a real and open discussion and debate on the merits of policies to save the lives of Floridians, then I am ready and fully committed to working hard to achieve a product that will keep our constituents safe. If this is the normal bait and switch that will leave Democrats shut-out of the “process” while they crow of bipartisanship, then I will call it like I see it; a sad attempt to cover their asses in the face of tragedy.”
State Rep. ShevrinJones:
Party politics has failed us. Working together always works better. Some don’t agree with my style, but I sleep well at night. 🤷🏾♂️
On the Legislature-backed proposal to train and arm school faculty, the FDP called it a measure “to keep the gun lobby happy and advance RichardCorcoran‘s political ambitions at the expense of the lives of our children.”
“The only people who think that putting guns in the hands of teachers is a good idea are Richard Corcoran and DonaldTrump,” claimed FDP spokesman KevinDonohoe. “Both Republicans and Democrats have agreed that arming teachers is dangerous and will make our schools more unsafe, endanger the lives of students and teachers, and do very little to prevent mass shootings.”
State Attorney General candidate RyanTorrens:
“As America is enveloped in our crisis of gun violence, I am reminded of President Franklin Roosevelt in his First Inaugural Address when he said: ‘Our nation asks for action and action now!’
“Sadly, our legislature, backed by the NRA, voted against even bringing an assault weapons ban up for a vote. It is clear that the Florida GOP is going to keep putting the NRA and their own reelection before the safety of our children and our families.
“Not only is our legislature refusing to act, but in 2011, the legislature actually passed a law prohibiting local governments from passing reasonable gun ordinances to protect their children and families. This is absurd.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has seen a lot of gun massacres come and go, and, as former chair of the Democratic National Committee, a lot of gun bills come and vanish, but she told the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida Tuesday morning she’s convinced that what follows the Parkland massacre last Wednesday will be different.
“We have a generation of young voters who came of age amid an appalling number of mass shootings. And for the last decade they have been told that nothing can be done to stop this senseless slaughter,” she said.
“What I saw in Parkland after this shooting has felt different,” she said. “Listening to the powerful words of the student survivors it’s hard not to think that these kids may be ready to lead where politicians have failed to take action.”
Wasserman Schultz represents Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, just south of Parkland in Broward County, and the ties between her family’s Cypress Bay High School and Marjory Stoneman Douglas, where 17 students and teachers were slain last week, are close. The schools and communities are similar and rivals, and now united, she said. On Friday she attended the funeral of one of the victims, Meadow Pollack, who was 18.
The rise of students, starting in Parkland and appearing in efforts descending on Tallahassee Tuesday and planned elsewhere in coming weeks, she said, will make the difference, if not in passing bills to tighten background checks and ban new sales of semi-automatic weapons, then in the elections that follow.
Recalling the funeral and the reactions of the family and friends brought Wasserman Schultz close to Tuesday, but the message she got was one of resolve and that they were “incredibly poised and so articulate.”
“What I saw in the faces of the students and parents last week there is an army that can literally march for these demands and they are in Tallahassee right now doing just that. And I think this is going to be a key litmus test for every race we have this fall,” she said. “It certainly is going to be huge policy difference separating [Democratic U.S. Sen.] Bill Nelson and [Republican Gov.] Rick Scott in a potential U.S. Senate race.
Wasserman Schultz, a former member of the Florida House and the Florida Senate now in her seventh term in Congress, rose to chair the Democratic National Committee. But her exit from that leadership post last year was nasty, after reports emerged alleging her heavy-handed steering of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. But she remains a powerful figure among congressional progressive Democrats.
When asked why the Democrats did not address their biggest gun position during the period when they had control of the White House and both chambers of commerce, and Wasserman Schultz was a quickly rising power in the Democratic party, she insisted the 60 votes needed to approve most bills in the U.S. Senate made it impossible during that time.
“Enough is enough. We cannot let another day go by without demanding the common sense gun legislation come to the floor of every chamber of every body in this country. Let them vote,” she said earlier. “Whatever way it comes out. But elected officials have to be held to account by the overwhelming majority, even of NRA members, who believe that we need to take steps to make this country safer, and to rid this country of the scourge of the weapons of war that no civilians as meant to have.”
She told the Tiger Bay club she believes that other progressive causes including the Affordable Care Act preservation, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program, and the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault all will play key roles for Democrats in the upcoming elections. But she spoke of Democrats’ desire for gun legislation to be more of a game changer following Parkland, and the impact that shooting is having on Generation Z, if not now, then eventually.
“They know that offers of just thoughts and prayers or more promises of more mental health funding mean absolutely nothing is going to change,” she said.
Donna Shalala might not be a candidate for Florida’s 27th Congressional District but she would be leading the very-crowded field of Democrats who are formally in that South Florida race, according to a Politico report Tuesday morning about a new poll.
The survey, conducted last month by the research strategy firm Bendixen and Amandi International, finds that, as a hypothetical candidate, Shalala, a former University of Miami president who had been in President Bill Clinton‘s cabinet, more than doubles the vote support of the other Democrats in CD 27, according to the report in Politico Tuesday morning. The survey finds Shalala drawing 24 percent, and second-place state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez of Miami managing 10 percent support.
The poll found that the vast majorities of voters don’t know any of the Democrats running in CD 27, including Rodriguez.
Bendixen and Amandi conducted the survey of 600 Democratic voters by phone on Jan. 20-24, claiming a margin of error of 4 percentage points, according to survey slides posted by Politico.
Even though the district has elected a Republican, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, every year since 1989, it has trended Democrat in voter registration and voted strongly for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, making it a key prospect for a Democratic flip. Consequently, it has attracted 10 Democratic candidates, yet none of them is named Shalala yet.
Bendixen and Amandi polled favorability for the top seven Democrats and found 70 to 90 percent of the voters do not know who Rodriguez, Barzee Flores, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, David Richardson, Ken Russell, Michael Hepburn, or Matt Haggman are yet, or have no opinions about them.
No matter what candidates said or did, or whether they ran embracing themselves with the president, or running as their own style of Democrat, it just didn’t matter. Voters were looking to send a message, and people who had Democrat on their name tag were the only vessel that existed.
My model for Sarasota going into Election Day said that if Republicans turned out between 2,000 and 2,500 more voters than Democrats during the day, Margaret Good would hold on, but it would be tight.
In terms of turnout, that’s what happened.
If you look at what happened with turnout, in 2010 or 2014, the Republican Party wins easily, in a normal election (do we have any of those) — with this electorate, the Republican Party probably would have won, or the Good would have won a real close one.
But as the margin demonstrated, this wasn’t a normal election.
Yes, Margaret was a good candidate, and yes, candidates and the campaigns they run matter. Yes, it helped that there was a national focus on the race, Vice President Joe Biden endorsing, grassroots money from everywhere — nor did it hurt that Corey Lewandowski came to town to reinforce that message.
All of these things mattered.
In 2010, a lot of fantastic candidates lost, and lost for reasons outside their own control. The lost because voters wanted to send a message, and since the president wasn’t on the ballot, they used the only proxy they could.
Not all special elections are created equal, and not all outcomes matter the same. This one probably matters more than most.
Here’s a few of my reasons why.
First, let’s go back to a little reminder about Florida. Most of Florida mirrors someplace else in America. Why did Donald Trump go to Pensacola to do rallies for Roy Moore? Well, that part of Florida is very similar to the deep south.
Go to a Jets/Dolphins game in Miami, and you might think you are at a Jets home game, or a Steelers/Jaguars game in Duuuval, and in addition to seeing Blake Bortles lead the almost-AFC Champions, you will get a good sense of where a lot of Duval comes from.
Sarasota, like much of Florida from Tampa south to Naples, has a Midwestern feel, a result of migration that came down from the parts of America accessed from I-75.
So, the voters here, in large part, have more in common with voters from suburban communities in the Midwest. In other words, these are the kinds of voters who voted for George W. Bush, voted for Barack Obama — at least in 08, and in many cases, also in 12, then voted for Trump. There are red states and blue states.
There are also Trump Republicans and Old Guard Republicans. These are Old Guard.
This district is very white and has an older average age than most. For evidence, among the voters who voted early, 94 percent were white, and 90 percent were over the age of 50 — two numbers that based on the overwhelming Republican Party advantage on Election Day will likely only rise.
In fact, out of the 27,000+ voters who have already cast a ballot, just over 900 are under 35. In other words, this is not a district where change comes from younger ethnic voters surging, as it has in many other specials around the country. Change comes here two ways: Democrats voting, and swing voters sending a message.
Personally, I’ve always been a bit obsessed with this district. Besides being a great community to visit, when I first worked for the legislature, this district was represented by a Democrat, Shirley Brown, and in 2006, when I ran the Florida House Democratic Caucus, winning this seat back was one of my personal goals.
In 2008, we laid down a real marker here during the presidential campaign, putting a real operation on the ground, sending in both Obama and Biden, and almost winning the county for the first time since FDR.
Why? Because if we are doing the things we need to do well here, we are going to do well in a lot of other places.
One other factoid about the district: The last two times the Democrats won this seat in an open seat: 1992, and 2006, both pretty good years.
Last time Republicans won it from a Democratic incumbent: 2010, not exactly a great year for my team. You get the idea.
So, here are a couple of my takeaways.
Largely the story of special elections around the country, women were the story here in Sarasota. Before Election Day, women were driving turnout, and while we don’t have Election Day data yet, I assume this pattern continued. Democratic women make up 19 percent of registered voters, but make up 26 percent of voters so far in this special election.
In fact, while district-wide turnout for the early vote was 21 percent, turnout among Democratic women is 30 percent. And these weren’t just super voters: Good was turning out a lot more Democratic women who had little or no primary voting history.
I thought Good was up somewhere around 8 points going into Election Day (her pollster told me his model had her up 11, and yes Tom, I said that seemed a little “rosy”) — and that was based on her winning about 15 percent of Republicans and winning a sizable majority of NPA voters.
She ended up ahead after Early Vote by 12 points, which means she had to be winning NPA voters by a margin of close to 2:1. In addition, Republicans had roughly a 16-point advantage on Election Day in terms of voters, and for her to maintain a strong win, she needed to maintain similar margins.
If you go back to 2006 or 2010, one of the signs that the wave was coming was chunks of NPA voters began to really perform as partisans. You’d see it first in the self-ID question in polls, where polling was coming back more Democratic or more Republican than it should, and same in the early voting.
Not all NPA voters are created equal, but if older white NPAs — driven by women turning out — are performing more Democratic, that’s going to be a good sign for 2018.
I’ve argued for some time Trump fundamentally misread his own election (something Democrats have also been guilty of). Trump has been gambling he can be a 40 percent president and appeal to a small segment of hard-right voters and be sustained by them, but last night was just the next proof point that this is toxic for the Republican Party, at least among swing voters.
Nights like this require two things: the “Blue Wave” and the “Red Revolt.” I lived the opposite in 2010, where Republicans came out of the woodwork, and elements of the Democratic coalition either stayed home or sent a message with their vote.
Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 13,000 in this district, and by roughly 2,500 in terms of people who voted in the special election.
Two things — final partisan model will be a few points more Democratic than registration — and several more Democratic than 2016. In other words — Democrats showed up, and Republicans didn’t. But at the same point, in a seat where, again, 2,500 more Republicans voted, Good doesn’t win by winning a sizable number of Republicans.
Putting a finer point on it: On Election Day, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats by over 2,000. They only won the day by 110 votes. A bunch of Republicans chose to revolt today — both by not voting and by voting for Good.
In years like this, when swing voters are frustrated with the incumbent president, their only vehicle to express their frustration is through members of the incumbent party. And in HD 72, that revolt happened with center-right voters — which in some ways, is why this matters more than some other races.
Just as Democrats struggled in 2010 and 2014, when their base voters stayed home, as Obama proved in Florida in both 08 and 12 — and in a lot of states in the Midwest in both cycles, Republicans face real math problems if they can’t run up the score with voters like these.
So yes, this matters. It matters for confidence, but more than anything, it matters because this shows center-right moderates felt the need to send a message — and the only way they could send a message is to vote against the president’s party.
And trust me, having lived through 2010 and 2014, this is the biggest challenge Republicans will face in the coming months, figuring out how to navigate their own base, while still talking to voters who are dissatisfied with the direction of the presidency.
Energy around this race was ridiculous.
Good received almost 3,000 contributions in the last month, which is pretty much unheard of in a State House race. I had Democratic friends from literally every corner of the country asking how they could make phone calls or help out.
The folks on the ground did a great job of harnessing grassroots energy. I remember in 08, sometimes it is hard just to guide the mob of supporters in the same direction, and just like in the Miami race, the party folks from House Victory, the FDP, and the rest of the progressive groups are working together, not against each other.
Terrie Rizzo, the FDP Chair; State Rep. Kionne McGhee, the incoming Democratic Leader, and Reggie Cardoza, who runs House Victory, all deserve real credit in sticking the sword in the ground here and seeing it through. In addition, congratulations to one of my best friends, pollster and strategist Tom Eldon, who I think is now 5-1 lifetime in this seat.
And to the GOP team that lost, I’ve been there. In 2010, more often than not, all you could do was never enough.
Nine months out, the win matters for what it says about politics now, but it in some ways, it matters less about Florida than it does about those parts of the country where these Florida voters come from.
But more than anything, I do think we are in this for a while.
Voters keep voting for change, but as long as Washington keeps reading their calls for change as a mandate for one way, just as we’ve seen a lot of this for the last decade, I think we will see more nights like this for some time to come.
All eyes are on Tuesday’s special election in Sarasota County’s House District 72 where Republican James Buchanan, Democrat Margaret Good and Libertarian Alison Foxall are running to replace former Rep. Alex Miller.
The latest poll indicates that an upset is in the making — if Good beating Buchanan can be viewed as an upset.
However, the race remains very close and the Republicans could pull it out with a strong turnout on Election Day.
St. Pete Polls has Good at 48 percent, Buchanan 45 percent, with Foxall taking 4 percent and “unsure” coming in at 3 percent. That’s a six-point swing for Good since January 24, when Buchanan led her 49 to 46 percent.
Diving into those numbers, it gets interesting.
Good is crushing Buchanan among those who say they have already voted, 57 to 39 percent, but the opposite is true among those who say they plan to vote, with Buchanan leading that cohort 53 to 38 percent.
Fifty-three percent of voters say they’ve already voted, while 47 percent said they still planned to vote.
As the race winds down, Good is doing very well with Democrats (more than 85 percent), while Buchanan is receiving slightly weaker support from Republicans (76 percent).
Buchanan, son of Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan, enjoys an advantage with white voters (47 to 46 percent) and voters aged 70 and up (52 to 41 percent). However, Good now leads among all other demographics — including a double-digit lead (50 to 39 percent) with voters aged 18 to 29 and a 13-point lead with voters aged 50 to 69 (54 to 41 percent).
Interestingly, Good gets about 17 percent of GOP voters, compared to only 11 percent of Democrats pulling for Buchanan. Independents are solidly breaking toward Good 56 to 33 percent.
For years, HD 72 has been a reliably Republican district, which covers a significant portion of Sarasota County and has a GOP advantage of nearly 40,000 registered voters over Democrats.
These numbers — for a relatively unknown state House special election — are earning national attention for HD 72, with many seeing a Good victory as bolstering Democratic hopes, both in Florida and nationwide, for the 2018 midterms.