Democrats and the press will tout moral victories -- but held seats tell the story.
In the aftermath of “The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime!” (Part 10), there was no shortage of Wednesday morning quarterbacking. The raves for the takeover of the U.S. House, and numerous races that were not supposed to be close are being held up as evidence of Democratic strength. The moral victories will be celebrated probably until the weekend.
Beto O’rourke, by one example, lost significantly. But he wasn’t trounced by Ted Cruz, so that means he actually is a winner, of sorts ... without actually earning a political seat. Like Wendy Davis before him, he is said to be a rising star in the party and destined for greatness. (Davis, it should be noted, has not held any office, and last was discussing a possibility of working for Planned Parenthood. Maybe Beto is destined for a Whataburger board seat?)
In similar fashion, Florida had some of the usual tightly contested races. Ron DeSantis took the governor’s mansion by a 1 percent margin, and after a mandated recount, departing Gov. Rick Scott is expected to oust longtime Sen. Bill Nelson. These thin margins are said to be indicative of the state shifting to a Blue status. Except, looking over the offices tells a completely different story.
A long and contentious election cycle has ended and the political tsunami never arrived. The Legislature is still fully in control of the GOP, as is the governor. Ashley Moody won to replace departing Attorney General Pam Bondi. Even agriculture commissioner -- OK, we're going to have a recount there -- and state CFO went red. Should Rick Scott win out (following his mandated recount), it will deliver an amazing statistic: It will be the first time that Florida has two Republican senators since 1875.
Nationally, after months of an assured Blue Wave rising in opposition to President Trump -- promised to transform our entire political complex -- we now see a far different result. A Red Undertow delivered strong GOP support, as the U.S. Senate not only remains in GOP control, but voters gave it a tighter grip. And the House seats gained reflect a number on par with most midterm elections.
Florida was in fact a barometer displaying the diminishing of the inevitable Democratic wave. Turnout was strong within both parties. The nastily contentious Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing(s) motivated a GOP turnout. The state Legislature saw no significant change to the firm leads over both chambers the Republicans hold.
Two significant races in South Florida reflected the Democrats' House takeover in D.C. Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo from Miami lost narrowly in District 26, which leads from South Dade through to Key West. And former Bill Clinton administration fixture Donna Shalala overcame what was deemed a weak campaign and a failure to speak Spanish -- amid wildly vacillating poll results -- to win the District 27 seat that covers the South Miami/Kendall area.
Apart from that, there were no other results to turn heads or signal that groundswell we'd been promised. The moral victories will be touted, surely, meanwhile the Florida GOP has to be ecstatic over the results.
But in the end, when looking over those who won, the state known for oranges is sporting a deep crimson hue. There will be claims of races turning things purple, but that shade was actually more present in the contusions created during a long season of political fights, not in the results.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist