It was a good night for Republicans in FL legislative, congressional races

By: - November 3, 2020 10:33 pm

The Florida House of Representatives. Credit: CD Davidson-Hiers

Two Democratic members of the Florida Congressional Delegation were trailing in reelection bids Tuesday evening as a number of competitive state legislative seats were trending Republican.

In Congressional District 26 in far South Florida, Democratic incumbent Debbie Mucarsel-Powell was trailing by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez — he had 52 percent to her 48 percent. Mucarsel-Powell was among the many women elected to Congress during the 2018 Democratic electoral sweep which gave them control of the House.

The Associated Press did call the race for Giménez. However, the state has not counted all mail-in ballots across all counties.

South Florida U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-27th) and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Clinton administration. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Next door, in Congressional District 27, Democrat Donna Shalala, who served as secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration and president of the University of Miami, another member of the Class of 2018, was trailing GOP Maria Elvira Salazar, a veteran Spanish-language broadcast journalist, with 51.4 percent for Salazar and 48.6 for Shalala. The district includes Little Havana and Miami Beach. The AP also called that race.

Trump Victory spokesperson Emma Vaughn issued the following written statement:

“Donna Shalala’s decision to move the University of Miami’s football program out of the Orange Bowl stadium continues to haunt her. District 27 turned its back on her, the way she turned her back on the Orange Bowl.”

Incumbent Republican Vern Buchanan beat Democratic state House member Margaret Good in Congressional District 16 in the southern Tampa Bay region, with 55.6 percent of the vote to her rough 44.4 percent. AP called the race.

These numbers are based on unofficial results from the Florida Division of Elections. In addition, the state has not completed counting all mail-in ballots.

Republican Scott Franklin kept Congressional District 15 in Republican hands, defeating journalist Alan Cohn by 55.5 percent to 45.5 percent. Ross Spano had held the seat Franklin defeated in the GOP primary.

Kat Cammack likewise kept Congressional District 3 in GOP hands, defeating Democrat Adam Christensen. Byron Donalds, a Black Republican, defeated Democrat Cindy Lyn Banyai in Congressional District 19 with better than 61 percent of the vote.

Other members of the Florida delegation — Democrats Al Lawson, Lois Frankel, Stephanie Murphy, Charlie Crist, Cathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Darren Soto, Alcee Hastings, and Frederica Wilson; and Republicans Daniel Webster, Brian Mast, John Rutherford, Matt Gaetz, Greg Steube, Michael Bilirakis, and Bill Posey, held onto their seats.

Republican Neal Dunn of Panama City was reelected without opposition in his heavily GOP district.

Democrats were also disappointed in competitive state House races.

In House District 26, incumbent Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff led Democrat Patrick Henry, 53 percent to 47 percent. The district stretches from Daytona Beach to Deland.

In House District 50, GOP incumbent Rene Plasencia, who’s organized a tight political network, led Democrat Nina Yoakum, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

State Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando. Credit: Colin Hackley

However, in House District 44, southwest of Orlando, Democratic incumbent Geraldine Thompson was holding off a challenge from Republican Bruno Portigliatti, 52.4 percent to 47.7 percent.

Senate District 9, pitting Democrat Patricia Sigman against House Republican Jason Brodeur, had been a great hope for Democrats; it includes Seminole County, which has been trending purple. But Brodeur was leading with about 50.4 percent of the vote to 47.6 for Sigman.

In Senate District 39, incumbent Republican Ana Maria Rodriguez led House Democrat Javier Fernandez, by about 56 percent to 43 percent.

However, in Senate District 3 centered on Tallahassee but containing surrounding rural counties, Democrat state House member Lorrane Ausley fended off Republican Marva Preston, a Black retired police officers who was endorsed by former FSU football coach Bobby Bowden, buy a margin of about 53.4 percent to 46.6 percent.

Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, said this in a written statement:

“Congratulations to our friend and conservation champion Loranne Ausley on her election to the Florida Senate. Loranne’s proven track record of public service and her commitment to protecting our parks and waterways resonates with voters in North Florida. Her leadership will be necessary as we confront the big challenges facing our state, addressing the climate crisis being at the top of the list.”

In another state Senate race, former Republican House member and Department of Veterans Affairs chief Danny Burgess defeated Democrat Kathy Lewis, a disability rights advocate. He took an early lead with 55 percent of the vote.

Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo did find a bright spot in the form of a local election — that of Daniella Levine Cava as mayor of Miami-Dade County.

“Not only will she be the first female mayor of Miami Dade, but also she will be the innovative, compassionate leader this county needs. I can not wait to see the phenomenal work she does as mayor to help uplift every member of this community, combat the climate crisis, improve transportation, and so much more,” Rizzo said in a written statement.

And there was this milestone: Democrat Shevrin Jones overwhelmed a write-in candidate in Senate District 35 to become Florida’s first Black gay senator.

“Shevrin shattered a long-standing political barrier for LGBTQ candidates in Florida and his victory will resonate far beyond the boundaries of his state,” Mayor Annise Parker, president & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a written statement.

“Shevrin will be one of just two Black gay men serving in state senates and his victory is certain to inspire more Black LGBTQ leaders to step up and run themselves. The politics of division and hatred failed in this race and gave way to a government that is more representative of the people it serves.”

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.