Several hundred people gathered in downtown St. Pete for a vigil to remember the victims of the shooting.
“It’s different because those students have been speaking out about it,” Crist said, “very strongly and passionately from the heart.”
Crist, joined by other Pinellas Democrats, wanted to convey the message that the hurt and anger people are feeling over this latest tragedy must be transformed into political action at the polls this November.
Ayotte paid a political price for voting against the 2013 bill that would have expanded gun background checks. Ayotte ultimately lost to Democrat Maggie Hassan by just 716 votes.
“Let me tell you, those groups were total ‘badasses’ and they stood up to the gun lobby,” Rice said to cheers. “And that’s what we have to do, again and again. It’s a lot of work. We gotta stick to it. We can’t snap our fingers and have something happen overnight right after a tragedy.”
Pinellas County School Board Chair Rene Flowers explicitly called out Republicans and rallied for more Democrats elected in November.
“Do not shuffle, shake and jive to hide behind the Second Amendment, ” she added. “If you want to protect your home, that’s fine, but there is no place to want to kill a deer, a coon or a possum with that kind of weapon fare. It’s not being used to eat!
Flowers then referenced Tuesday’s special election in Sarasota County, where she knocked on doors and made phone calls to help Democrat Margaret Good, who defeated Republican James Buchanan by seven points in a traditionally GOP-leaning district.
“We can do it!” she shouted.
In his brief remarks to the audience, Crist also referred to Good’s victory, as well as other recent elections in Florida that saw Rick Kriseman get re-elected mayor of St. Pete and his 2014 running mate Annette Taddeo win a special election state Senate seat in Miami-Dade County last year.
“Another red to blue,” he said referring to the Democrat taking over a seat formerly held by a Republican. “You see the trend. It’s coming, but only if we stay engaged.”
Crist told the crowd that he supports “comprehensive and significant ” background checks, a ban on all assault weapons and measures to keep schools safer.
“Now is the time. And I hope and pray that we can get some of these things passed, quickly, like yesterday. I’m an optimist, but I am somewhat pessimistic about the leadership in Congress, and how could you not be? What have they done? How many does it take? When is enough enough?”
One Florida Republican lawmaker who said Sunday he would support such bills is Miami U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, considered one of the most vulnerable Republican members of Congress in the nation as he fights for re-election in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.
“What we need is congressional leaders, specifically in my party, to allow some of these bills to come to the floor for debate,” Curbelo told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s This Week. “There are a lot of Republicans who are prepared to support reasonable, common-sense gun safety laws, new laws, stronger laws that protect rights for responsible citizens, people who are responsible gun owners, but will prevent those who want to do harm to innocent people from obtaining these weapons.”
Rice said the time for activists who want to see gun control laws change is to get active right now. “Congress is where the work ends, it’s not where it begins. It begins here. It begins now, and we stick to it.”
For Sarasota-area Democrats, hope springs eternal.
Tuesday night, Margaret Good won a decisive seven-point victory over Republican James Buchanan in the House District 72 special election.
Now Democrats are eyeing much bigger prey — Florida’s 16th Congressional District held by Vern Buchanan,who made millions owning car dealership before turning to politics in 2006, winning a hugely controversial victory over Democrat Christine Jennings.
Since then, Buchanan has never faced a serious threat.
Sarasota Republicans openly mocked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last spring when they added CD 16 to the list of seats that they were targeting for recruiting and potential investment.
“The Democrats have zero chance at winning this seat,” quipped Sarasota Republican Party Chairman Joe Gruters after that announcement was made. And while not sounding so bravado immediately after Good was declared the victor on Tuesday night, still vowed that he was “confident” that the GOP will win the seat back in November.
Democrats have found the man they believe can topple Buchanan in the fall in attorney David Shapiro, whoin the last quarter of 2017 received more than 500 contributors totaling more than $250,000.
Shortly after Good’s victory Tuesday night, Shapiro’s campaign team fired off a memo to reporters (available on his campaign website) laying out the predicate on how they believe Buchanan is now very vulnerable.
However, it appeared that some of the data employed in the original memo to reporters was inaccurate.
The memo begins by asserting, HD 72 makes up 21.6 percent of the 16th Congressional District and is “a full 10-points more Republican by party registration” than CD 16 as a whole.
Where HD 72 saw a 12-point swing between 2016 and 2018, the memo asserts CD 16 will put Shapiro in “a strong position to win in November.”
According to a graph in Shapiro’s memo, HD 72 party registration is 50 percent Republican, 29 percent Democrat and 20 percent independent. Comparing it to the CD 16 political party breakdown, the memo claims HD 72 is a “full 10 points” more Republican.
Not exactly. A check of the closing book on party registration on HD 72 as of last month shows — courtesy of the Division of Elections website — that is in fact, 42 percent Republican, 33 percent Democratic, and 25 percent NPA. That breakdown is extremely close to the CD 16 demographics of 41 percent Republican, 32 percent Democrat and 27 percent independent (HD 72 makes up 21.6 percent of CD 16).
When contacted, Shapiro campaign manager Jason Ascher acknowledged the error and has subsequently corrected it on the website.
The highest-profile Democratic candidate on the ballot in 2016 and 2014 also fared much better in HD 72 than in CD 16.
In 2016, Donald Trump won HD 72 by 4.8 percent over Hillary Clinton but took CD 16 by 10.8 percent (Buchanan also defeated Democrat Jan Schneider by 19.6 percent).
In 2014, Charlie Crist won HD 72 by 1 percent over Rick Scott. Nevertheless, Scott took CD 16 by 6 percent.
So recent elections bear out the assumption that, statistically, CD 16 will be a harder road to hoe for Democrats than HD 72 was.
Not that it can’t (or won’t) be done in 2018.
The Sarasota GOP establishment still believes Buchanan’s hegemony in the district can’t be broken.
“I don’t think there’s any chance that the Democrats can beat him, just because he’s done such a great job,” says Sarasota Republican Committeeman Christian Ziegler, a former longtime aide to Buchanan. “When you look at his record, he’s right in line with the district, and if you look at his hustle, I don’t think know if there’s a congressman that works more aggressively and does more outreach to the community than Vern.”
“Our argument still holds,” counters Ascher. “These two districts are very similar and what happened Tuesday night bodes very well for David’s campaign heading into November.”
One of the key reasons Democrat Margaret Good won the House District 72 special election Tuesday was because she and the Democratic Party pushed local issues while Republicans pushed national issues, Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Penalosa said Wednesday.
Penalosa said Good and other Democrats focused on such issues as public education and distribution of well-paying jobs, while Republicans are running on issues of national interest, such as the party’s position against sanctuary cities and concerns over immigration.
“They’re speaking to the broader national issues. They’re trying to make it about Trump. Like for example with the Margaret Good election, when [former Trump campaign manager] Corey Lewandowski came down, they were doing ‘Lock her up!’ chants,” he said.
“I think the GOP, particularly in this state, is looking backward and trying to re-litigate the 2016 election, which, you know, voters have moved on,” he added.
Penalosa said that the Democrats will pursue the strategy of identifying and focusing on local issues for this fall’s elections.
“You’re going to see Democratic candidates across the state hone in on messages that matter to their communities,” Penalosa said.
Penalosa took issue with he said was the GOP-provided spin that Republicans had fumbled the HD 72 race; there wasn’t much to read into it for future elections.
“I would argue the opposite,” he said. “We have a recent string of victories. I think we have a united front.”
Penalosa’s comments came at a news conference intended to introduce Good to the capital press corps in Tallahassee and to give House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa and House Democratic Leader-Designate Kionne McGhee of Miami a chance to weigh in. But the Florida Legislature Democratic Caucus meeting ran late, and Penalosa had to attend alone.
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.
Democrat MargaretGood won Tuesday’s special election in House District 72 in a victory that will likely set off a round of Republican recriminations … and angst.
Goodled the race throughout Tuesday night, leading the early balloting and ending with over 52 percent of the vote, compared to45 percent for Republican James Buchanan, to represent HD 72 — which covers Siesta Key, parts of the city of Sarasota and parts of Sarasota County — for the next nine months.
Alison Foxall finished a distant third with 3 percent, despite relatively strong fundraising for a Libertarian running in a state legislative race.
Gov. Rick Scott called the special election following the sudden resignation of former Rep. Alex Miller in September. Miller stepped down after less than a year in office, citing business concerns and raising two teenagers.
It is the second special election in recent months in which Democrats captured a formerly Republican legislative seat, with the other being a win by Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami.
Good, an attorney, said ithat the victory wouldn’t have been possible without the “thousands of individuals, who like me, have had enough of the divisiveness that permeates Tallahassee.”
“The voters have spoken,” Good said. “People in District 72 want leaders who listen and act boldly to better our community. I will be accessible, transparent and fully committed to this community that has provided me and my family so much.”
While HD 72 has just over 122,600 eligible voters, the race attracted attention from local, state, and national leaders, which helped the special election hit some of the highest turnout levels of any in recent memory. More than 44,100 voters had cast ballots, a turnout of over 36 percent.
For example, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden cut a last-minute get-out-the-vote robocall for Good. Democratic gubernatorial candidates Chris King and Andrew Gillum also campaigned on her behalf.
As an indication of the national interest in the race, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez issued a statement Tuesday night about the win.
“Just like we did last year with Annette Taddeo, Democrats are organizing, investing, and winning elections across Florida as voters reject (Gov.) Rick Scott and Donald Trump’s disastrous agenda,” Perez said in the statement.
As for Buchanan, a Sarasota businessman and son of longtime Longboat Key congressman Vern Buchanan earned high-profile endorsements from Republican, including bothGov. Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
Last weekend, Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, joined other Republican leaders to headline a rally of about 200 supporters in Sarasota to bolster the final days of Buchanan’s campaign. This backing from Trump cohorts at Saturday’s event (which included state Reps. Jay Fant, a candidate for Attorney General, and Joe Gruters, who served as one of Trump’s top Florida supporters) gave HD 72 an echo of the contentious 2016 presidential race, complete with audience chants of “lock her up” — a popular Trump refrain against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Libertarian Foxall also nabbed a rare endorsement from “The Observer,” a Sarasota-area newspaper.
What also makes the race notable is that Good remained competitive throughout, despite HD 72 having about 13,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats or unaffiliated voters — and has been reliable GOP territory for more than a decade.
Much of Good’s viability can be credited to energized Democrats from across the nation, who came to her aid through a flood of small-dollar donations, canvassing and phone banks from liberal bastions as far away as San Francisco, New York, and Washington D.C.
The result was early voting that saw roughly equal participation from registered voters of both major parties — notwithstanding the significant Republican registration advantage — as well as numbers that suggested the best Election Day turnout of any offseason contest.
By 2 p.m. Monday, voters had already cast 27,525 votes, a turnout of just over 22 percent. Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that in a typical special election — without the glare of a national spotlight — turnout usually runs about 15 percent. On Monday, 11,965 registered Republicans voted early (either in-person or vote-by-mail) compared to 11,798 Democrats — for a turnout already well over 22 percent.
Regarding polls, the race remained a squeaker to the end, with Good and Buchanan swapping the lead — always within the margin of error — and no clear front-runner right up to Election Day.
Among early returns, Good bettered Buchanan 55 to 43 percent with vote-by-mail and early in-person voting.
But pollsters also found that with voters who planned to cast ballots Election Day, Buchanan outperformed Good, which suggested a surge of eleventh-hour Republican support.
But it was ultimately not enough to pull off a Republican win.
Either way, for local and national Democrats, Good’s victory will be seen as another bellwether for an expected national “blue wave” of anti-Trump sentiment at the polls. Buchanan’s decisive loss — particularly in traditionally red HD 72 — could also be taken as a measure of rising dissatisfaction with Republicans in 2018, nominally led by an increasingly unpopular president.
However, some Republicans view Buchanan’s underperformance as more of a repudiation of GOP extremism than a Democratic uprising.
“This was less a blue wave than a red revolt,” Republican consultant Anthony Pedicinitold POLITICO. “Republicans turned out on Election Day, and looks like there was little benefit to our campaign.”
Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.
Democrat Margaret Good decisively won the Sarasota-area House District 72 special election Tuesday, defeating Republican James Buchanan 52 to 45 percent.
Florida Democrats were quick to praise Good on flipping HD 72, which was reliably Republican for at least a decade, citing her “positive message of growing Sarasota’s economy, fully funding our public schools, and protecting our coastline.”
Many Democrats view the race as a precursor to a national “blue wave” of anti-Donald Trump sentiment at the polls. They say Buchanan’s loss — particularly in traditionally red HD 72 — is a sign of dissatisfaction with Republicans in 2018, nominally led by an increasingly unpopular president.
A sampling of Florida Democrats congratulating Good on her win:
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson:
“Congratulations to Margaret Good on a huge win! The people of Sarasota will be well represented with her in Tallahassee.”
Gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham:
“Floridians made a great choice tonight in electing Margaret Good to the State House. After 20 years of one-party rule, Floridians want leaders who will fight for health care, create jobs, improve public education, and protect the environment— and that’s exactly what Margaret will do. I look forward to working with her as governor to create change in Tallahassee and a better Florida for everyone.”
Gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine:
“Congratulations to Margaret Good on her incredible victory in HD 72! She stepped up to run, because she believes, like so many, that Tallahassee needs fresh leadership with a clear vision. Today, Margaret Good and the Democrats flipped this seat because they offered a real vision for Sarasotans, and in November, we will flip the Governor’s mansion!”
Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez:
“Congratulations to Representative-elect Margaret Good on her victory tonight’s special election, which flipped yet another Republican-held seat from red to blue in a district that Trump carried in 2016. Just like we did last year with Annette Taddeo, Democrats are organizing, investing, and winning elections across Florida as voters reject Rick Scott and Donald Trump’s disastrous agenda. I’m confident Margaret will fight every day for working families across Florida. The DNC is proud to stand with Margaret and the Florida Democratic Party, and we will continue working to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”
The DCCC’s Cole Leiter:
“Margaret Good’s overwhelming victory in Florida’s HD 72 demonstrates that voters are energized to cast their ballot for a candidate who can shake up our broken political system, not the son of a Washington establishment politician. While this big Democratic victory should put the elder Buchanan on notice, he cannot undo his steadfast support for the House Republican agenda that puts the very rich and biggest corporations first, and middle class Sarasotans last. Democratic candidate Dave Shapiro has already hit the ground running in the race for Congress, and will be a very strong competitor in November.”
The NLCC’s Jessica Post:
“Representative-elect Margaret Good’s campaign was dedicated to the people of Sarasota County who are tired of Florida Republicans peddling a Trump agenda counter to their values. Rep.-elect Good went door-to-door, talking with voters about affordable health care, fully funded public schools, safeguarding LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights, and protecting Florida’s beautiful environment. The DLCC is proud of the investments we made to support Rep.-elect Good in her fight to flip HD-72, and we look forward to continuing our work alongside Florida Democrats as we prepare to elect more Democrats to the Florida Legislature ahead of 2020 redistricting.”
Florida Democratic Party:
“We couldn’t be more proud of Margaret, for the campaign she ran. She was the better candidate, her message resonated with voters in Sarasota, and the results showed that. This win shows us that Floridians are rejecting the same tired rhetoric we saw with Donald Trump’s campaign, which was the same rhetoric Buchanan used to try and win. This is a referendum on Trump and the GOP.
“Republicans across the state continue to campaign on issues like the border wall, that are not actual state issues and only serve to divide and demonize the immigrant population. We are going to continue to focus on the real issues effecting this state, like the fact that nearly half the state is struggling — living paycheck to paycheck, and the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are without health care because Republican leadership refused to expand Medicaid. This is the beginning of a movement here in Florida. We will continue to work hard in every race, up and down the ballot, because Floridians deserve better.”
State Rep. Kionne McGhee, Democratic Leader-designate:
“Tonight’s victory is a testament to the power of the grassroots campaign we built in Sarasota, as well as the appetite for change in Tallahassee that’s growing all over this state. I’m looking forward to Margaret joining us in the Legislature beginning tomorrow in the fight for expanded access to health care and stopping attacks on our public schools.”
“Margaret Good will be a breath of fresh air in Tallahassee. We are thrilled to welcome her as another outspoken advocate for Florida’s environment. Our quality of life and our economy are intertwined and both depend on a clean and healthy environment. We need leaders like Margaret Good to fight for our water, conservation lands, and clean energy. Sarasota may be 327 miles away from Tallahassee, but tonight, voters sent a loud and clear message to the Capitol that can’t be ignored.”
Joe Saunders of Equality Florida:
“Equality Florida Action PAC played a key role in rallying support within the Suncoast and across the state for Margaret Good, including working with local volunteers to raise campaign contributions and building satellite phone banks across the state to turn out progressive votes. Florida’s LGBTQ and allied community is under attack by forces in Washington and Tallahassee. This year we’re going to make clear that those who stand with us will earn our support and those who ignore us or attack us will be held to account. Margaret is ready on day one to fight for our families, which is why we’ve shown up for her.”
Reggie Cardozo of House Victory:
“Margaret’s win shows that grassroots Democratic campaigns can and will defeat the cynical House Republican machine funded by special interests and run by Tallahassee insiders. This great victory is just the beginning of the Blue Wave to come in 2018.”
Margaret Good‘sseven-point victory in the House District 72 special election in northern Sarasota County will be celebrated by Democrats nationwide.
And why not?
Republicans had a roughly 13,000 registered voter advantage over Democrats in the district, which voted for Donald Trump by 4.4 points in 2016.
But the trends had been pointing Good’s way in recent weeks, going back to when a reluctant James Buchanan finally agreed to a televised debate with Good and Libertarian Alison Foxall.
There was also fundraising; Good raised more than $660,000 in direct campaign contributions and to her political committee, while Buchanan took in just $353,320.
Kevin Griffith, the Sarasota County Democratic Executive Committee Vice Chair, calls it “an earth-rattling event’ in Southwest Florida politics.
Griffin said Good was essentially running against Buchanan’s father, Vern Buchanan, who has presided in the local congressional seat since 2006.
“I know several large donors who said Vern called them and asked for donations for James,” Griffin added, saying that Vern Buchanan’s Democratic opponent this fall, attorney David Shapiro “may be the biggest winner of all from a Margaret Good victory.”
Not a chance, says Sarasota’s GOP State Committeeman Christian Ziegler, a former congressional aide to Vern Buchanan.
“If you talk to anyone across the entire county, except for the fringe left, even a lot of Democrats and moderates would say Vern has done a great job,” said Ziegler, “I don’t think that changes based on a special election result. Vern wasn’t outwardly involved in this race.”
New College political science professor and former House Democrat Keith Fitzgerald said the final results showed women voting at higher rates than usual among Republicans, Democrats and independents.
“Infrequent” Democratic voters came out in big numbers, Fitzgerald added, noting a “substantial” amount of Republicans voted for Democrats.
“Not unusual in the district, but at these numbers, it’s incredible,” Fitzgerald said while appearing on WWSB in Sarasota.
Then there was the fundraising, where Good raised more than $660,000 in direct campaign contributions and to her political committee, while Buchanan took in only $353,320.
As Florida Politics reported earlier in the week, Good was also buoyed by fundraising and phone banking from enthusiastic Democrats from across the country, such as from CREDO Mobile co-founder Michael Kieschnick, the Palo Alto resident who contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years to Democratic candidates nationwide.
Good also benefitted from volunteers who worked from liberal redoubts like Brookline, Massachusetts, where activist Lisa Kolarik said she participated in two different phone-bank sessions.
Kolarik became involved through Sister District, an organization that enables activists in safe blue areas to support candidates in red states and swing districts who could use the help.
Before the 2016 election, Kolarik considered herself a moderate centrist who voted for candidates of both parties but she said she had been thoroughly alienated from the GOP since they refused to stand up to Donald Trump.
“They’ve been exposed as a party that puts party over country,” Kolarik said, believing that a lot of Republicans have been bought by corporations and PACs.
“I’d be hard-pressed to vote for a Republican again over what they’ve done in the last year and a half.”
“Tonight’s victory is a testament to the power of the grassroots campaign Democrats built in Sarasota, as well as the appetite for change in Tallahassee that’s growing all over this state,” said House Leader-Designate Kionne McGhee. “I’m looking forward to Margaret joining us in the Legislature beginning tomorrow in the fight for expanded access to health care and stopping attacks on our public schools.”
“Margaret’s win shows that grassroots Democratic campaigns can and will defeat the cynical House Republican machine funded by special interests and run by Tallahassee insiders,” said Reggie Cardozo of House Victory, who was on the ground working for Good’s campaign. “This great victory is just the beginning of the Blue Wave to come in 2018.”
The victory for Good now means Democrats have flipped 36 legislative seats from red to blue since Trump’s election in November of 2016:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement:
“Congratulations to Representative-elect Margaret Good on her victory tonight’s special election, which flipped yet another Republican-held seat from red to blue in a district that Trump carried in 2016.
“Just like we did last year with Annette Taddeo, Democrats are organizing, investing, and winning elections across Florida as voters reject Rick Scott and Donald Trump’s disastrous agenda.
“I’m confident Margaret will fight every day for working families across Florida. The DNC is proud to stand with Margaret and the Florida Democratic Party, and we will continue working to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”
While Ziegler says he was surprised by Good’s margin of victory, it will be a completely different story when she runs again for the seat this November:
“The last time I looked there were about 2,200 contributions from outside the state. You have Joe Biden doing robocalls. You have (Martin) O’Malley.
“The Democrats hustled, but the problem that Margaret Good is going to have is starting tomorrow all of that outside help, all of those outside individuals, will not be there for her starting tomorrow.
“I think she’ll be in office six months, but come the fall, I think it will be a different story.”
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.
If Margaret Good does triumph in House District 72 race tonight, it will be in no small part due to the support she’s received from Democrats and progressives throughout the country.
Not only has Good, a Democrat, received campaign contributions from around the nation — especially liberal redoubts like the New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. — but groups from some of those same communities were also phone-banking for her Monday, less than 24 hours before the polls open.
Good is competing for the northern Sarasota County seat against Republican James Buchanan and Libertarian Alison Foxall.
A St. Pete Polls survey released on the eve of the election shows the Siesta Key attorney holding a slight lead over Buchanan, 48 to 45 percent, with Foxall taking only 4 percent; 3 percent said they were “unsure.”
If Good were to maintain that lead and win Tuesday night, it would be considered a significant upset as well as a further indication of a potential Democratic “blue wave” in this year’s midterm elections.
What’s considered surprising (by some) is that Good outraised Buchanan in campaign contributions, taking in $484,372 to $353,320 for the Republican. Good raised an additional $176,000 for her political committee, New Day Florida.
In the latest fundraising report issued Friday, Good reported 2,977 individual contributions — with a vast majority donating less than $100 — from all across the country.
Many came from people residing in “Blue America,” and a substantial number of small donations coming from places like New York City, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Contributions also flowed in from Washington D.C.
On Jan. 28, three groups based in the nation’s capital — Sister District DC, Ward 3 Democrats, and Turn it Blue, DC — held a fundraiser for Good.
A phone bank to contact HD 72 voters was being held Monday afternoon in El Cerrito, an enclave in San Francisco’s East Bay. It’s part of the Sister District Project, which raised more than $350,000 in small-dollar donations to support Democrats in state legislative district in 2017.
Katrina Boratko made a $10 contribution to Good’s campaign. The San Francisco resident told Florida Politics she learned about the Sarasota Democrat’s campaign through Sister District.
Caroline Nassif volunteers for Sister District in San Francisco, which she said raised a total of $5,000 for Good’s campaign. Nassif’s frustration with gerrymandered federal congressional districts made Democrats like her prefer to give to candidates in state legislative races where small contributions can make a real difference.
“These smaller races with real people you can definitely relate to are to me the most exciting ones,” Nassif said.
Over the weekend, POLITICO reported that the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee contributed $10,000 to the Florida Democratic Party last week and also sent out an email on behalf of Good.
Buchanan’s campaign previously criticized Good for receiving so many out-of-Florida contributions.
“Margaret has run a campaign of lies funded by out of town progressives from New York and California who want to fundamentally change our state through higher taxes and sanctuary cities,” said Buchanan campaign manager Nick Catroppo. “That’s why this race is so important. James will always do what’s right and put Sarasota first.”
“We believe the flood of small donations from around the country reflects the excitement on our side, as Democrats continue flipping Republican-held seats in special elections on a weekly basis,” said Ryan Ray with the Good campaign. “If you dig into the report, a strong plurality of the contributions is from Sarasota residents, many of whom don’t typically give to campaigns.”
Ray also noted that while Good had almost 3,000 individual contributions in the last fundraising period, Buchanan had just 142.
Sunday afternoon, Corey Lewandowski made note of the Democratic intensity in HD 72 and across the country. Lewandowski served as Donald Trump‘s campaign manager for a spell in 2015 and 2016.
“The Democrats are highly motivated,” he told a crowd who gathered at Dolphin Aviation in Sarasota, reported the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “They are winning elections in places where they shouldn’t … 50 seats have already changed hands from the Republicans to the Democrats since Donald Trump was elected.”
Lewandowski continued: “That should be concerning for us. Dave and I are here to make sure that one thing happens: That Buchanan goes to the state House and we don’t have another Democrat in office.”
House District 72 Democratic candidate Margaret Good has seen a flood of fundraising from the Tampa Bay area and across the nation in the last month, but in at least two cases her contributors have exceeded campaign donation limits.
Two people have given to Good in excess of $1,000 for the special election on Tuesday. Florida Statute 106.08.1 states that the limit for a campaign contribution for an individual running for legislative office is $1,000 for a primary election and $1,000 for the general election.
Meanwhile, Cornelle Maxfield of Bradenton made two contributions to Good’s campaign. One was for $1,000 on Dec. 10. The second contribution of $50 was registered on Feb. 5, totaling $1,050.
Governor Rick Scott signed legislation in 2013 increasing the caps on individual donations to legislative candidates from $500 to $1,000 and to statewide candidates from $500 to $3,000.
Good is running against Republican James Buchanan and Libertarian Alison Foxall. The Buchanan camp jumped on the news, just hours before the polls open on Tuesday.
“It’s another example of Margaret’s deceitful campaign,” said NickCatroppo, Buchanan’s campaign manager. “Her questionable judgment makes it clear that she should not be in elected office.”
According to Florida Statute 106.08 (7)(a), “Any person who knowingly and willfully makes or accepts two or more contributions in violation of subsection (1) or subsection (5) commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”
Hours after Florida Politics informed the Good campaign about the excessive contributions, it announced it had refunded the excess funds.
“We received thousands of donations from supporters all across the district that believe in our campaign and our vision for Florida. As soon as we became aware of the over-contributions, we refunded the donations and amended the report,” Good told Florida Politics.
Good campaign officials responded a bit more indignantly.
“That the Buchanan campaign would attempt to make an issue of a minor clerical error is laughable given his camp’s abuse of the campaign finance system, using untraceable money through dark money PACs to spread negative personal attacks,” said ReggieCardozo with House Victory. “This reeks of desperation, which is understandable given that our last report reflected thousands of donations from grassroots supporters while theirs was kept afloat by his wealthy family and special interest money.”