TOP OF THE TICKET
Republican Gov. Rick Scott won re-election in Florida with 48 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Charlie Crist’s 47 percent.
Libertarian Adrian Wyllie had about 4 percent.
Scott was elected in 2010 in what was also a tight race, but that one wasn’t decided until the day after the election.
Crist was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican. He became an independent in 2010 when he ran for the U.S. Senate and it became apparent he would lose the GOP primary. He became a Democrat two years ago.
Incumbents lost in both of Florida’s only competitive U.S. congressional races.
In the Panhandle, Democratic challenger Gwen Graham beat Republican Congressman Steve Southerland 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent. Graham is the daughter of Bob Graham, the popular former governor and U.S. senator. That race took a weird twist when Southerland defended an all-male fundraiser that encouraged donors to “tell the Misses (sic) not to wait up.” After Gwen Graham took issue, Southerland asked a reporter: “Has Gwen Graham ever been to a lingerie shower? Ask her. And how many men were there?”
Meanwhile a South Florida district, Republican Miami-Dade County school board member Carlos Curbelo beat incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia by a 52-48 margin with 94 percent of precincts reporting. Garcia conceded defeat in one of the nation’s top ten most expensive House races. Republicans poured more than $6 million into the race against Garcia, compared to the nearly $2 million Curbelo raised. Garcia raised around $3.5 million and received around $2 million in outside funds. He rode into Washington two years ago on an anti-corruption platform, but his campaign later faced its own corruption accusations.
INCUMBENT REPUBLICAN CABINET MEMBERS COAST TO REELECTION
All three Florida incumbent Republican cabinet members easily defeated their Democratic opponents Tuesday, potentially carving the way toward runs for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2018.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam all massively outspent their Democratic opponents and had higher public profiles.
The Associated Press declared Bondi the winner with a 55-42 percent led over challenger George Sheldon and over half the expected vote counted. Sheldon, a former legislator and Department of Children and Families head, was outspent by an almost 3-to-1 margin.
Atwater and Putnam both won by wide margins against their opponents. Atwater led with 58 percent of the vote against William Rankin and about half the vote counted; and Putnam defeated challenger Thaddeus Hamilton with 59 percent.
The attorney general, CFO and agriculture commissioner form the Cabinet with the governor and have a vote on pardons, as well as serving on a variety of state boards and commissions.
Republicans did not reach the two-thirds majority needed in both the Senate and the House to overturn a gubernatorial veto without Democratic help.
The GOP picked up the necessary five seats in the House. But Democratic State Sen. Maria Sachs held her lead over former Republican State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff.
Sachs’ seat was viewed as one of the most vulnerable in the Senate.
FLORIDA VOTERS REJECT LEGALIZING MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Florida voters rejected an amendment to legalize the sale and distribution of medical marijuana.
With over 90 percent of precincts reporting, 57 percent had voted in favor of Amendment 2 — just shy of the 60 percent required to pass.
The ballot measure is one of four across the nation to legalize the use of marijuana. The other states — Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia — voted on whether to allow recreational use, which was approved in Colorado and Washington two years ago.
The campaign in Florida for medical marijuana was one of the most expensive ballot measures in the country. Both sides spent millions.
Opponents maintained the measure is fraught with loopholes while supporter contend it will provide relief to the sick and suffering. If it passes, hundreds of thousands of patients would potentially gain access to the drug.
BILLIONS TOWARD ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION; NO VOTE ON JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS
Voters agreed to designate billions of dollars to Florida conservation efforts over the next 20 years.
Amendment 1 passed overwhelmingly with nearly 75 percent of voters choosing “yes” from 91 percent of precincts reporting, far more than the 60 percent that was needed to pass the ballot measure.
The approval means about one billion a year from an existing real estate tax will go annually toward conservation. About half of that money will fund Florida Forever, a conservation land purchasing program whose budget was almost entirely depleted during the Great Recession. The money was never restored after the economy improved.
Voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have let an outgoing governor rather than an incoming one choose new Supreme Court justices after three retire due to age limits in 2019. Only 52 percent approved the measure with 91 percent of precincts counted.
via The Associated Press.