Republicans Hold Serve in State Legislature

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Florida voted for Barack Obama for president – the first Democrat to win since Bill Clinton in 1996 and the first northern Democrat since FDR in 1994.

Florida also ousted two Republican Congressmen: Tom Feeney and Rick Keller.

Hillsborough County voters sent Republican incumbent County Commissioner Brian Blair packing.

The mood was anti-incumbent, and anti-Republican.

Except on the state legislative races. Going into election night, the Republicans held a 77-43 edge in the State House and 26-14 edge in the State Senate. Coming out, the numbers are the same.

Florida House of Represenatives
Two districts switched in the House: District 32 saw incumbent Democrat Tony Sasso (who won in a special election) ousted by Republican Steve Crisafully. To be sure, the Republican Party of Florida had this seat as target number one. Surprisingly, District 81 – an open seat held by term-limited Republican Gayle Harrell – was carried by Democrat Adam Fetterman over Republican Michael DiTerlizzi.

Locally, almost all incumbent legislators won big – and none of them lost. The closest races were in House District 48 where Republican Representative Peter Nehr beat Democrat Carl Zimmerman by 2% in a rematch of 2006. In House Distrct 69, Democratic Representative Keith Fitzgerald won by 5% in another 2006 rematch over Republican Laura Benson. The rest of the incumbents all won by double-digits.

Florida Senate
On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate races were just as predictable. The only close race was in Orlando’s District 19 where incumbent Democrat Gary Siplin held off Republican challenger Belinda Ortiz by 1%. The next closest race was 16% (58-42). That is a strong incumbent advantage.

Interesting Results
In all, these numbers are fairly surprising. Given the general environment, the fact we had so few upsets has two factors: undervoting and lack of competitive races — even in open seats. Until the Democrats can (or perhaps if they ever can) field viable candidates in more races, the Florida Legislature will continue to be very Republican.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
This entry was posted in 2008, Elections, Florida Legislature. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Republicans Hold Serve in State Legislature

  1. Neither of us expected the Florida legislature to make serious gains. The district maps are one reason. I doubt you fear the the political savvy of Karen Thurman. The Florida Democratic Party is weak.

    I was surpise by how soundly Brian Blair was beat. I thought the race would be close. I underestimated how disliked Blair was by voters.

    Democrat Gary Siplin held off Republican challenger Belinda Ortiz by 1%. The next closest race was 16% (58-42). That is a strong incumbent advantage.

    That is a weak in a above 30 percent black district. Siplin is a disgrace. Neither party wants to address the fact. Siplin is in the Democratic caucas and votes him Republicans on social issues. Siplin is the Florida Senate’s version of Joe Lieberman.

    Prediction: Buddy Johnson is re-elected. He might be forced to step down with his latest screw ups. Jim, have you figured out what was Phyllis Busansky and Mary Repper? Someone explain how sitting on a war chest and staying invisable is going to beat an incumbant. I think if Lee Nelson was the nominee, Buddy would lose as badly as Blair.

    Another Prediction: Sarah Palin is done. McCain staffers will start going public with their previously off-the-record remarks. The sharks are fighting for survival now. No one wants to get blamed for this defeat. Be grateful you didn’t work on the national campaign. Mike Huckabee is the Christian conservative to watch in 2012.

    Good job on your amendment 2 and 4 predictions. I topped you with my “Obama Will Lose” post. If you’re going to be wrong – think big.

    Inquiring minds want to know: is Jim Johnson a Reformer or Reaganite Republican? I pegged you for a Reaganite. You’re not yuppie enough to be a David Brooks style Reformer.

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