Winners and losers emerging from Florida’s 2018 general election

winners and losers3

Remember back, say, two years ago? The 2018 governor’s race was supposed to be Adam Putnam’s to lose.

And then he did.

Then it was Gwen Graham’s to lose. And she lost.

Then it was Andrew Gillum’s. And so did he.

So here we are with Ron DeSantis getting sworn-in in January (we think, maybe, who knows, that margin of victory is shrinking), and — oh, by the way — multiple recounts going down, as of this writing.

This was the year to expect the unexpected. Of course, we didn’t and were shocked — shocked! — when reality didn’t coincide with the polls. (But we’ll get there.)

So without further ado, here are this election’s Winners and Losers, with a proviso that this list is a work in progress:

Big-li-est winner 

Donald Trump — He got his man DeSantis into the Governor’s Office and another Republican vote Rick Scott into the U.S. Senate. Yeah, yeah, recount. Whatevs. We don’t think Bill Nelson will overcome that 17,000-vote deficit. And with Republicans squarely in control of pretty much everything in Florida beyond local seats, even if it did change anything, it still wouldn’t. The GOP ruling class would see to it.


Team DeSantis — Hats off to Susie Wiles, Sarah Bascom and her colleagues at her firm, Tim Baker, Brad Herold, and James Blair for taking a novice statewide candidate and getting him across the finish line. Outside consultants Rich Heffley, Jim Rimes, and David Johnson also pitched in. And let’s not forget Trump 2016 staff who took off from their jobs to come back to Florida to help her this cycle. Now comes the hard part: Putting the DeSantis brand on a state government that now has been fully made in the vision of Rick Scott. Part of that challenge will be further refining what, exactly, the DeSantis brand is. 

>>>By the way, this is four statewide races in a row that Wiles has been part of the winning team. That’s an incredible run.

Team Scott Pending a recount they should win, Scott’s advisers and staffers have now taken, beginning with the 2010 GOP primary, four brutally tough statewide races in a row. As Scott administration alum Darrick McGhee bragged on Twitter, every cycle the critics don’t give Scott a chance, yet he ends up winning. Special shouts-out to campaign manager Jackie Schutz and ‘shadow’ lieutenant governor Brecht Heuchan. Talk about refining a brand; he did it for Scott.

Team Moody — Give campaign manager Nick Catroppo credit for making sure the former Hillsborough circuit judge became the state’s next chief legal officer. Let’s not forget consultants Marc Reichelderfer and Tom Piccolo as instrumental in that race too. Communications guru Christina Johnson was pitch perfect, per usual. And chief fundraiser Samantha Blair and finance chair Michael Corcoran made sure Moody had all the money she needed to win.

Matt Gaetz — Easily wins re-election to Congress. Is it a coincidence he’s DeSantis’ No. 1 cheerleader? Uh no, considering he’s possibly Trump’s biggest fan. It’s no fun being a minority party backbencher in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House, but now he’s a co-chair of the DeSantis transition team. Another idea: If Trump pivots toward normalizing marijuana in some kind of triangulation gambit, Gaetz may be his lead warrior, especially the Prez limits his bite at that apple to descheduling cannabis nationwide for medicinal purposes.

On MessageCurt Anderson’s consulting shop now has raked in millions through the Scott machine’s largesse. We always knew Scott’s political team influenced state government, but the longtime Scott political adviser rose to the latest electoral challenge. Anderson might be frustrated with his guy’s historically slim margins of victory, but the game ain’t won by hits, it’s won by runs, and a win is a win.

Melissa Sellers — The former Scott communications director-turned-chief of staff-turned-outside Svengali gets significant credit for running the outgoing governor’s super PAC and quarterbacking Jimmy Patronis’ victory over low-energy Democrat Jeremy Ring to a full elected term as the state’s Chief Financial Officer. What’s next for this Wonder Woman? We’ll soon see.

Blaise Ingoglia — Critics, including @Fla_Pol, have not liked the far-rightward turn of the Florida GOP. And, well, he certainly doesn’t operate like previous chairs. But he and his team, as opposed to playing a poor hand well, actually held good cards. There’s an abundance of talent on the team. Let’s hope he uses it well.

Richard Corcoran — To show you how short memories are even in hardball politics, the guy who said DeSantis combined a “bulldog mouth” with a “chihuahua a — ” is now co-chairing the transition team. The former Speaker still has connections to House leadership, so he’s good there. At this rate, though, we’re ready to go out on a limb: Congratulations, new Florida Supreme Court Justice Corcoran.

Americans for Prosperity-FloridaEarly supporters of DeSantis, backed him in primary, only organization on the right (other than the RGA) who put the most resources into supporting him. Also invested heavily in Scott’s run for the Senate. And they were the only organization on the right to support Amendment 4 and Amendment 11. Both passed.

Election lawyers — A certain writer of ours jokingly refers to certain things being “Attorney Employment Acts.” Lawyers specializing in elections law (and there’s actually not a plethora of them in Tallahassee) will do well on this short, limited opportunity for work because of recounts in several tight races. First up, for example, Washington lawyer Marc Elias for the Nelson camp.

Everglades Foundation — CEO Eric Eikenberg will be very happy to have a Governor who makes Everglades restoration and a southern reservoir a key component of the administration. ‘Nuff said.

Everglades Trust — How many times was the Everglades Trust mentioned in the debates? The endorsement and fundraising led by executive director Kimberly Mitchell was a major issue, with the state under siege from blue-green algae and red tide. The Trust just became a force, and showed the Dems they can’t take them for granted.

Florida sheriffs — They win for their strong backing of Moody for Attorney General and for Amendment 10, the measure that ensures county-level offices like theirs will be elected and not appointed. We’ll see if how they get rewarded politically for their loyalty.

Criminal justice reform advocatesWith Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Byron Donalds returning to the Legislature, the body will have two conservative champions for ‘smart approaches’ to juvenile/criminal justice reform while promoting public safety. It saves taxpayer dollars and provides second chances to those who’ve been touched by the justice system.

Ryan Tyson — The guy we branded the smartest in the room two years ago certainly proved it in the general election, privately forecasting a path to victory for the Republicans, while calming jittery political heavyweights who were reading the public polls and wondering why Tyson was shorting them. He’s too press-averse to take a bow, so we’ll do it for him.

School budgets — POLITICO’s headline summed it up: “Every proposed local education tax passed in Florida.” That’s a counterintuitive bet in the tax-averse Sunshine State. Yet it paid off despite the usual agitation by Florida’s many retired folks that they don’t want to subsidize other kids’ schooling. Maybe more grandparents have moved here to be closer to their children, and their children’s children.

Supervisors of Elections — How about a round of applause for the people who get none of the glory (but God help them if they screw something up), the quietly proud elections supervisors, like Brian Corley of Pasco, Mike Ertel of Seminole, and Craig Latimer of Hillsborough. We’d mention more, but we’d run out of room.

The Villages With wide variations throughout the state, 62.1 percent of Florida voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to the Division of Elections. The highest turnout? Nearly 77.7 percent in Sumter County, which includes a large part of the massive Villages retirement community. Whoo, seniors voting!

TV media buyers — Those who get commissioned by selling TV made freaking bank. Seriously. Tampa was going for over $1,000 per point in the closing weeks. Somebody has a new boat. Make that “somebodies.

Constitution Revision Commission — By the way, all the CRC amendments passed. ALL of them. The criticism, the lawsuits, the backstabbing, the sneering, all of it ended up meaning nothing. It was noise that voters ignored when they filled in all those black ovals. CRC Chair Carlos Beruff, and Style and Drafting Committee head Brecht Heuchan should feel vindicated because, dammit, they were.

Cities, counties — They’re winners because Amendment 1 flunked at the ballot box. It could have cost them many millions in property tax revenue. Bacon saved once again, thanks to hard work of League of Cities and Association of Counties.

Realtors — They wanted Amendment 2, they got it. In particular, credit Beth Matuga and Ann Howard for passage of the Amendment, which continues the 10 percent cap on property tax assessment increases on non-homestead’ed properties. The measure passed with a commanding 66 percent approval of voters.

Disney, Seminole Tribe — They certainly got what they paid for, spending millions on a campaign for the ‘voter control of gambling’ amendment. It requires anything that would allow pari-mutuels to expand their gambling operations to go up on a statewide referendum. It passed with 71 percent. ‘Achievement unlocked’ awards go to JJ Whitson and Paul Seago.

Voting right for felonsJackie Lee managed the Amendment 4 campaign, and was another big winner Tuesday night (and there weren’t that many on the Democratic side). Lee managed a bipartisan coalition to get the amendment over the magical 60 percent threshold. It was not an easy campaign, but hey, 64 ½ percent later they were victorious.

“Marsy’s Law” teamRandy Enwright and his team at Enwright Rimes get the ‘W’ on Amendment 6, along with Greg Ungru as Executive Director. Also pulling more than their weight was Ryan Erwin (on the National Team), Jon Fleischman (National Team), Kim McGlynn and BIPC Team, Gail Gitcho (National), Screven Watson, Cory Tilley and all of Core Message, Lauren and Ron Book, Sandi Poreda, Rosanna Catalano, Jerry Paul and many, many more. Sen. Lauren Book also deserves kudos for being one of the biggest backers of Amendment 6 when most everyone thought the CRC amendments would fail — she took a risk and helped pass something she cares passionately about.

Amendment 7 — Another ‘bundled’ amendment, including enshrining the state college system in the constitution, that was like Reese’s, different tastes that taste good together. Nicole Washington and Emery Gainey did the first big lift, backed by Madeline Pumariega, Chancellor of the Florida College System and Ava Parker, Chair of the College Council of Presidents and President Palm Beach State College. Kudos.

Don Gaetz — No. 1 cheerleader of the lobbying reform measure, Amendment 12. The member of the Constitution Revision Commission wanted to pass ethics reform when he was Senate President, but was stymied by — ahem — other forces. He was able to convince fellow CRC members to OK an amendment to the voters, and it passed with no problem.

Lobbying firms — With the passage of Amendment 12, which increases the ban on former elected officials from lobbying for money from two years to six years, it actually consolidates the power of existing influence firms. Bust a cap on the Moet, boys.

Bill Galvano — He’s still going to be Senate President. His Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (FRSCC), the primary fundraising panel supporting GOP state Senate campaigns, put many Democratic challenges out of their misery. And Brody Enwright was the mastermind behind the ground operation for FRSCC that was critical in winning. Special shout out to fundraising heavyweight Nancy Texeira who — between FRSCC and Senate Republicans’ hard dollar campaigns — helped raise more than $40 million. That record-breaking fundraising haul helped lift the outcomes for Republicans up and down the ballot.

Wilton Simpson — The Senate Republican Leader and future Senate President isn’t set to take the reins till 2020. But the mild-mannered egg farmer from Pasco County quietly raised millions alongside Galvano, rallied the troops to hold the majority and handily won re-election himself.

Team Keith Perry — The Gainesville Republican, against the secret fears of many GOP faithful, fended off a challenge for his Senate seat from Dr. Kayser Enneking. The others winners are those who ran that campaign day to day: campaign manager Kayla Lott, along with Skylar Swanson and Alex Abdul.

Lizbeth Benacquisto The state Senator wasn’t on the ballot, but the Fort Myers Republican’s hustle to raise money and get out the vote in key districts proves once again why Benacquisto is consistently a go-to team player for Senate leadership. What’s next for her after the Senate?

Paul Renner — The future House Speaker is already trying to consolidate a power base. The Palm Coast Republican pushed for GOP’er Elizabeth Fetterhoff against a Democrat incumbent, for one example. 

Randy Fine — The GOP House member was statewide chair of Jewish outreach for DeSantis, introducing him twice before large Jewish audiences and three other times around the state. Some even think data will show that the Jewish vote ‘defected’ from its traditional Democratic-leaning, which helped put DeSantis over the top.

Jennifer Webb — The Democrat from Gulfport is the first married lesbian to head to Tallahassee as an elected representative. While the House’s openly gay membership is increasing, so are challenges to the LGBTQ constituency. Add in all the usual demands of a legislative session, and her work is cut out for her.

Reggie Cardozo, Janee Murphy — Makes new House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee look good, as more Democrats stock the Blue Team in the Florida House. Strongest gains came in Central Florida (where voter registration numbers favored D’s). Voter registration also favored Democrats in Tampa Bay, St. Pete, and Miami-Dade areas. The Democratic House Victory team delivered as well as, and some might say even more than, expected. 

Florida Chamber of Commerce — After recruiting pro-jobs candidates and investing more than $19 million in get-out-the-vote efforts, the Florida Chamber saw positive midterm election results. Voters backed 80 of 86 Florida Chamber-endorsed candidates, including the US Senate, Governor and Cabinet races, four supported constitutional amendments and 80 legislative races. As Florida Chamber Political Council Chair Will Weatherford has often said, if we want to get the policies right, first we have to get the politics right. While the election is over, our nation and state remain divided politically, but the Florida Chamber and its agenda are nonpartisan and good for Florida.

Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies — It elected one of their own to the Florida House, and their endorsed candidates won 19 out of 22 contests — with the potential for a 20th, depending on a recount. They credit the 6 million Florida homeowners, 18,000 community association managers, and 14,000 associations who stepped up and engaged in this election.

Josh Cooper — The opposition research consultant to Scott, DeSantis, Patronis, Gus Bilirakis and Ross Spano didn’t have a bad night. And have you tried his coconut and mango glazed mahi-mahi? Delish.

Consensus Communications — Tre’ Evers, John Sowinski, Dana Loncar, Christina Morton, Ryan Houck, Andrew Sutton, Janine Callovi, Dan Cunningham, all take a bow. From constitutional amendments to local initiatives, state and local candidates, over 100 TV ads across the country for campaigns out of state, they knocked it out of the proverbial park. 

Data Targeting — With wins in statewide, congressional and legislative races, what can’t these guys do?

Rick Porter, Heather Manso — The DeSantis Finance Director and Deputy Finance Director, respectively. These two solidified themselves as two of the top GOP fundraisers in the state, raising over $53 million for DeSantis. Wait. Hear that? That’s more knocks at their doors.

Clay Barker & the above mentioned Heather Manso — The new power couple. Clay “worked his butt off” on all of his races as he helped start an in-house mail. And of course Heather was DeSantis’ finance director. Looking good, you two.

Ana Cruz — She was the political wizard behind Janet Cruz’ headfirst plunge into the Senate District 18 race. Millions of dollars and countless nasty ads later, the exiting House Majority Leader looks like she’s set to become the only new Democratic state Senator. Assuming her razor-thin lead holds firm after a recount.

Jordan Gibson — Her digital firm Ello Creative worked for DeSantis, Caldwell, Patronis, Vance Aloupis, Chip LaMarca, and Rene “Coach P” Plasencia. In fact, she had DeSantis as a client since the 2016 race. And she had the Florida GOP for several years and throughout election.

Max Goodman — Goodman, the point man for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, did an Ernest Shackleton-level job of navigating, and surviving, what at one point seemed to be a tough re-election battle in Florida’s 16th Congressional District. Even during the weeks when yacht purchases and foreign loans dominated the headlines and shined a less-than-stellar light on his boss, Goodman kept his cool and helped earn another two years in Washington.

Max Herrle — Helped elect progressive Jeremy Matlow, owner of Gaines Street Pies, to the Tallahassee City Commission. Herrle, who chaired the political committee in support of Matlow’s candidacy, also lobbied for the “beer glass bill” on behalf of local restaurants last Session.

Brad Howard — Though the so-called “blue wave” didn’t hit Florida shores Tuesday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy didn’t need it in order hold on to Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Howard, her point man and chief of staff in DC, was a major part of Murphy’s successful defense of the Central Florida seat, which was considered to be the only flippable Democrat-held district in the Sunshine State.

Erin Isaac — In one of the most surprisingly hard-fought Congressional races in the state, bringing on Isaac was one of the best decisions soon-to-be CD 6 U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz could have made in his successful campaign. With her on board, the campaign forged a double-digit victory and kept the seat in Republican control despite being outspent by seven-figures in the coastal district.

Eric Johnson — It won’t matter how many of his other clients lost on Election Day, if he can help Nikki Fried pull off one of the greatest comebacks in political history, we’ll be buying him drinks — and his beloved Star Wars memorabilia — for the next year.

Brock Mikosky — Dover state Rep. Ross Spano was outgunned in the money race and was on the receiving end of an onslaught of (heavily exaggerated) accusations from his bitter Republican Primary rival, Neil Combee. Mikosky and the rest of Team Spano kept their heads down and persevered in the crowded August nominating contest, and on Tuesday they successfully denied Lakeland Democrat Kristin Carlson a big win in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which had been considered safe GOP country and ended up staying that way despite Carlson outraising and outspending Spano by a wide margin.

Zach Monahan — The Supernova Digital guru worked with over a dozen campaigns this cycle, from Matt Gaetz and Jeff Brandes to many of the high profile FRSCC races. Supernova had a great night. And Zach’s a helluva nice guy.

Chris Mitchell — A former political activist-turned-comms consultant, Chris headed up the digital, social media and A/V communications for a couple of the seats that flipped blue in Hillsborough County. His messaging was right on the money and was likely a difference maker in flipping both a county commission seat and state House seat.

Scott Parkinson — DeSantis’ congressional chief of staff is serving as deputy executive director of the transition, He’s also, shhh, in the mix for chief of staff after the boss is sworn in. He’s also an alumnus of the offices of GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

Evan Power — The Leon County Republican Party chief is angling to move up a rung and serve as the Republican Party of Florida’s next chairman, with his announcement likely to drop after the recounts are completed (whenever that is). If he wasn’t a front-runner on Monday, he certainly became the guy to beat on Tuesday night — his connex to the incoming DeSantis administration and the fresh batch of Cabinet members are unmatched among the current crop of would-be RPOF chairs.

Mac Stevenson — Months ago, Joe Gruters said he wouldn’t be surprised if there was a 100 percent turnover in the Sarasota delegation. There pretty much was, but thanks to the wizardry of Mac Stevenson, the county was able to keep the area’s seats in the GOP column. Some of the winning teams Stevenson was on: Gruters for state Senate, Kelli Stargel for state Senate, Greg Steube for Congress and Will Robinson for state House. Also, behind every great consultant is their partner, which in this case is Kelly Dowd.

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network — The amendment banning offshore oil drilling and prohibiting vaping in the workplace (eww) passed with an overwhelming majority of votes. The top-notch team at Sachs Media Group worked with the ACS CAN to solidify this major victory – even though the polls had it on the fence before Election Day. As WLRN so eloquently put it, Floridians can no longer “vape on an oil rig looking back at Miami Beach.”

Strategic Image Management Yeah, they probably lost one or two more House races than they would have liked and their home turf of Hillsborough went decidedly blue, but Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo were brought in to win a key Senate race (Ed Hooper), while playing in so many other races it’s hard to keep count. As we mentioned before Piccolo was heavily involved in Moody’s win, while Pedicini seems to have elevated to the next level of consultant — TV and radio appearances, frequent quotes to reporters, etc.

Jason Unger — The GrayRobinson lawyer/lobbyist happens to chair the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. His co-worker, former Senate general counsel George Levesque, was general counsel to DeSantis. And main man Chris Spencer, also of GrayRobinson, was in on the ground floor of DeSantis’ campaign. Looking good to be in Unger’s shoes right about now.

Scott Ross — The Capital City Consulting lobbyist was the very first DeSantis supporter and adviser in Tallahassee when the rest of town was with Putnam. Ross predicted a DeSantis win when everyone thought he was crazy. Will Ross jump to a DeSantis administration? Can he afford to? Who cares. With his crystal ball, he’ll be in high demand either way.

Nick Iarossi — The Capital City Consulting co-founder was an early DeSantis supporter who helped secure the support of the Everglades Trust and the Everglades community. That was a key electoral issue during both the primary and the general. In addition, his firm helped raise DeSantis millions from clients Sheldon Adelson, Everglades supporters, and others.

Ron LaFace — The Tally lobbyist maintains solid positioning with the Cabinet. He served on Moody’s finance team and has been a political ally and friend of Ashley’s since they were in college together at UF. Yup, he’s gold.

Ballard Partners — It bears repeating: DeSantis is indebted to the power firm’s Susie Wiles for his win. Wiles will helm the transition, by the way. But that’s not the only Ballard boost to the winning campaign. Don’t forget former state Rep. Chris Dorworth who did debate prep for the GOP candidate, and Kathy San Pedro who acted as Jeanette Nunez’s body woman. Also close to Nunez is the firm’s Monica Rodriguez. Pretty soon, Brian’s face may be on the $100 bill. (We kid.) 

Florida Medical AssociationThe first group to endorse DeSantisTim Stapleton and Chris Clark did well. The doctors will have a good few years in Tallahassee, we think.

Mercury Public Affairs — Their campaign clients include Caldwell (Danielle Alvarez), Donna Shalala (Mike Hernandez), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (Hernandez), All for Transportation (Ashley Walker and J.D. White), and Amendment 4 (Alvarez, Walker and others did PR, digital strategy for the measure).

Naples Chamber of Commerce— Backed and won a local sales tax increase from 6 percent to 7 percent, which ends after seven years or after it rakes in $490 million, whichever comes first. New money will go toward “a variety of ambitious and backlogged projects,” according to NDN. (Don’t tell anyone, but pat on the back to Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, who worked on the initiative’s passage at “The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce,” its full name.)

Southern Strategy Group — In the case of the DeSantis campaign, more lobbyists from Southern Strategy Group’s Tallahassee office wrote personal checks to the DeSantis campaign than any other lobbying firm in that city, period. (And, they didn’t write any checks to Gillum.) You can bet they had DeSantis’s private cell number when other firms were still trying to remember his first name, which is why they will probably continue to be the highest-billing lobbying firm just as they were last quarter. With its lobbying team’s many decades of experience in government, they will be an important resource during the transition.

The Fiorentino Group — Northeast Florida’s premier lobbying firm continued its good run when a Jacksonville-area gubernatorial candidate won for the first time in decades. Couple that with their key legislative relationships (Galvano, Bradley, Gibson and Cummings) and the future looks bright — and (let’s be honest) lucrative.

Holland & Knight — Two of the firm’s alumni were elected to statewide office, DeSantis and Moody. And, if a recount results in gains for Nikki Fried, it might be three alumni.

The Rubin Group — Thefirm enjoyed one of the best overall election nights. Bill Rubin’s long-time close friend Rick Scott heads to the U.S. Senate; and the firm jumped on the DeSantis train with only a few others early in the process. Bill and Heather Turnbull have been Team Galvano since he was first elected to the House; and continue to be top supporters of his efforts throughout his career; as well as being one of the top fundraising firms for Senate Republicans. Of course the firm, with its expanded presence in Miami, was a major rainmaker for Jose Oliva and his slate of House candidates.)

All For Transportation — With Tampa Bay’s history of seeing transportation initiatives go down in flames, no one gave the All for Transportation team much of a chance to get on the ballot, much less win. Not only did they prove the haters wrong on both those counts, it did so with a resounding mandate from all corners of Hillsborough County. Props to AFT Chair Tyler Hudson and team members Christina Barker, Kevin Thurman, Rena Frazier, Brian Willis, Ryan Stitzlein, Eva Garvish, Scott Pollenz, Gwen Myers and Ebone Cruz.

The Waltz Warriors — Nancy Soderberg and her allies outspent Lt. Col. Michael Waltz 3-to-1 and he won CD 6 by nearly 13 points. Data Targeting’s Micah Ketchel spearheaded this one with young up-and-comer Hunter Wilkins on the ground as campaign manager. While public polling showed Soderberg within striking distance and pundits were calling this one a toss up, Tim Baker’s strategic guidance ran up the score for this decorated war hero. (Waltz has four bronze stars, two for valor.)

Sarah Fortney — The first ‘out’ lesbian was elected to the Polk County School Board. Making history and fighting for kids.

And finally … Dave Aronberg — The elected chief prosecutor of Palm Beach County just became the instant Democratic front-runner for 2022. Get ready, Dave.

Mixed Bag

Adam Corey — The lobbyist and entrepreneur did what he could, through expertly timed leaks of documents in an ongoing ethics investigation, to help ensure that his ex-friend Andrew Gillum lost his bid for Governor. You gotta feel mighty jilted to be that much of a d*ck.

Jose Oliva, Chris Sprowls — The next House Speaker, and the one in line after Renner, lost as many as seven seats on Tuesday, including both of their pet projects, Frank Mingo and Joe Wicker. Can’t win ’em all. 

Dan Newman — He lost Sean Shaw for Attorney General, but probably won Janet Cruz for Senate, assuming a recount goes her way. So, he’s even there.

Christian Ulvert — Goes from Levine campaign to Gillum campaign, both losers, but he helps Annette Taddeo hold on to her seat. Call it a wash.

School choice advocates — It’s a bittersweet symphony because they didn’t get Amendment 8 on the ballot. It was struck down by the courts. But their issue is still among the top items on the House GOP’s interest list.

NRA — The gun rights group backed Caldwell, Waltz, Spano, and won, but weirdly opposed Amendment 13 banning dog racing, which won anyway. The line was that banning greyhound racing could mean an end to hunting and fishing. Huh? Confusing, and voters didn’t buy it.

Parkland students — All due respect: Did they really matter in this election? Discuss.

Elnatan Rudolph — The text message guy that really helped DeSantis — even if he annoyed the hell out of us.

Biggest Loser

Florida Democratic Party — Proved yet again their ineptitude at running candidates who’d be capable of winning on the state level. When the buzzword of the night in most House districts that flipped was “centrist,” the hapless Dems doubled down on stupid by running a $2.98 Bernie Bro. When will they learn that the far-left message that plays well in New York and San Francisco faceplants badly in the rest of the country?


Broward County — A pox on Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes for holding up e-night results. Send in Ion Sancho. He’s tanned, rested, and ready.

Peter Schorsch’s prediction — We sneaked this one in while Peter wasn’t looking, but how in the hell did he end up with Gillum winning by seven points? Had he had too many dirty martinis when he laid down that bet? Please, boss, tell us you didn’t put the payroll down on that marker. 

Public polling — We’re not going to blame them for the fake news they produce. Here’s our new strategy: We’re going to blame all the people they talk to who outright lie to them for fun to gig the poll results. Because how else do you explain this years’ serial disasters in polling? Can you?

Tom Steyer — The billionaire Democratic supporter bet big and lost bad (pending a recount). He is the definition of throwing good money after bad.

Audrey Gibson — The Senate’s top Democrat didn’t flip her chamber despite hints she could and would. Better luck in the 2019 Session. Bill filing time will be here before you know it.

Kevin Cate — There was Charlie Crist. Now, Sean Shaw and Andrew Gillum. The Democratic communications savant better have another rabbit to pull out of his “TLH” hat.

Sean Pittman — The longtime Gillum backer put all his money, so to speak, on a long shot. Oh well. He gets to return to a lucrative lobbying practice and the adoration of his community. The guy’s been on billboards in Tallahassee, true story. 

Matt Isbell — We said it before, we’ll say it again: The Democrats’ data and maps guy sold fool’s gold about the Florida Senate flipping. At least he still has a funny Twitter feed.

David Jolly — The former Republican and former Congressman said he voted against DeSantis because he served with him in Congress. How’s that workin’ out for ya? That, and being a key Never Trump’er in a Trump-y state.

Steve Schale — We loved his “Memos” in the run-up before the election, but at the end of the day, we’re not Jaguars fans and Steve was just on the wrong side of history this year. 

Florida Justice AssociationJeff Porter and FJA made a calculated decision to stop playing footsie with the Senate Republicans and went all in with Democrats on six seats (supposedly) in play. They lost all but one, and maybe that one too. And Galvano will remember.

Greyhound industry — It’s curtains for the state association, including its lobbyist Jack Cory, lawyers Jeff Kottkamp and Paul Hawkes, and all the breeders, owners, trainers and others in dog racing who will be out of a job in the next couple of years as racing winds down. Good luck, guys. 

Pari-mutuels — With the gambling amendment’s passage, that makes it all the more onerous to open more gambling in the state. Interests like bestbet, MGM, Big Easy Casino, will suffer.

Jimmy Buffett — BuzzFeed News’ Joe Bernstein‏ won Twitter with this: “I’m currently 200 comments deep in a very affecting Facebook post about Trump supporters who are emotionally renouncing Jimmy Buffett after he endorsed Andrew Gillum.”

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


  • Jeff Sutton

    November 9, 2018 at 6:41 am

    Didn’t you forget racism as a big winner?

  • Jeff Sutton

    November 9, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Also I guess women were big losers having a Governor who voted against the Violence against women act (pending recount).

  • FUC(ate)K(evin)

    November 9, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Karma is a biotch.

  • Domino

    November 9, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Biggest Loser: The Jolly Defect

  • Jeff Sutton

    November 9, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Children hoping to avoid gun violence were big losers.

  • Carrie Henriquez

    November 9, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Bryan Farris and his firm did well with Hattersley (having recruited and run him and they did win) along with Overman in Hillsborough — he worked in conjunction with Chris Mitchell. Bryan deserves some props — otherwise you are spot-on, as per usual, Peter!

    • Bryan Farris

      November 9, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      Thank you Carrie… I appreciate the recognition from my peers.

  • Ralph Smith

    November 10, 2018 at 7:45 am

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