It’s do or die for those hoping to make the next round of TallyMadness, Florida Politics’ annual voting competition to determine the “best” lobbyist in in the state.
As of Wednesday night, more than 78,000 brackets had been filled out. No, that’s not a typo. And yes, that’s more votes than the winner earned in three Super Tuesday contests.
The second-round slate features 16 matchups, with the winners snagging a coveted spot in the Sweet 16. Heading into the final day of voting there were several races with razor thin margins.
The closest of all: Erin Ballas of Public Affairs Consultants vs. Nick Matthews of Becker & Poliakoff. Only three votes separate them.
There’s also a single-digit margin in the bout between Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants lobbyist Justin Thames and Capital City Consulting’s Megan Fay.
UF lobbyist Samantha Sexton is neck-and-neck with Rubin Turnbull’s Amy Bisceglia, and the shootout between the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Chelsea Murphy vs. UF IFAS’ Victoria Price is nearly as close. Leader in each holds an advantage of less than 25 votes.
With a couple days of voting in the books, some tournament storylines are starting to emerge. Tops among them is Ed Briggs’ Cinderella run.
The RSA Consulting lobbyist pulled off an FGCU vs. Georgetown-level upset in the first round when he knocked off Ballard Partners’ Kathy San Pedro. Round two pits him against FIU lobbyist Chris Cantens, who’s coming off an 8-point win over the Florida Chamber’s Carolyn Johnson. Briggs’ run may well continue, but he won’t be winning by 20 points this time around.
Then there are the contenders who squeaked by in the first round. Ashley Kalifeh of Capital City Consulting, Teye Reeves of Smith Bryan & Myers and Amanda Fraser of Adams St. Advocates earned their spots in the round of 32 thanks to a flurry of last-minute votes.
Kalifeh’s second-round opponent is Sara Clements, who was among the top vote-getters in the opening round. CCC’s Andrew Ketchel also ran up the score in his debut and has the potential to send Fraser packing. Reeves, meanwhile, put up similar numbers to Rutledge Ecenia’s Corrinne Mixon in the first round, which could signal a similarly close race when all’s said and done.
The duel between Alli Liby-Schoonover of Metz Husband & Daughton and RJ Myers of Suskey Consulting is another to watch. Each dispatched their first-round opponents with ease, but one will inevitably fall victim to bracketology. Expect a deep run for winner.
Just like the NCAA Tournament, there are no recounts in TallyMadness. When the buzzer goes off, it’s game over. Voting remains open until 11:59 p.m.
The full slate of Round 2 matchups:
— Skyler Zander vs. Ryan Matthews
— BillieAnn Gay vs. Christian Minor
— Samantha Sexton vs. Amy Bisceglia
— Brian Bautista vs. Chris Chaney
— Alli Liby-Schoonover vs. RJ Myers
— Chelsea Murphy vs. Victoria Price
— Justin Thames vs. Megan Fay
— Joseph Salzverg vs. Josh Aubuchon
— Teye Reeves vs. Corinne Mixon
— Ashley Kalifeh vs. Sarah Clements
— Andrew Ketchel vs. Amanda Fraser
— Sydney Ridley vs. Jasmyne Henderson
— Jake Farmer vs. Natalie Kato
— Chris Cantens vs. Edward Briggs
— Erin Daly Ballas vs. Nick Matthews
— Andrew Rutledge vs. Jessica Love