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Politics

Florida Election 2014 Winners and Losers

November 4, 2014 - 6:00pm

As Florida goes, so goes the nation. The swing state that sealed the deal for George W. Bush and Barack Obama twice once again exemplified the nations politics on Tuesday night as Republicans rolled over Democrats. Down almost 20 points after Obama won in 2012, Rick Scott was the big winner in Florida while Charlie Crist was the biggest loser.

The Florida Democratic Party was a big loser, too. But for Democrats around the state, there is an upside. When the party reframes and rebuilds, they can have an organization with real cohesion and direction, something that works to more effective purpose.

But there were other winners and losers in Florida after the votes were counted.

WINNERS

Billy Rubin.Lobbyist, longtime Broward County influencer, 20-year friend of Gov. Rick Scott. Rubin switched parties in 2010 to vote for Scott. He had a profound influence on -- and loyalty to -- the governor, it's no secret along the corridors of power and Tuesday's election result likely sent his stock through the roof.

Americans for Prosperity. No right-of-center group worked harder in Florida than AFP in reaching out to voters and knocking on doors. AFP often seemed more excited about Rick Scotts rollback of $500 million in fees than the governor himself. It was an impressive effort largely overlooked by the mainstream media and, in a close gubernatorial election, one that paid off on Election Day.

Business groups. The leadership of the business community -- particularly the Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce -- had two big priorities on Tuesday: keeping Scott in office and defeating Amendment 2 on medical marijuana. They won on both counts. While the groups could have done more against Amendment 1, which mandates part of taxes collected from real estate transactions are used for land conservation for 20 years, the business community has to be happy with Tuesdays results. Expanding the number of pro-business legislators in the Florida House makes it even sweeter.

Steve Crisafulli. After Chris Dorworth lost in 2012, Crisafulli quickly rounded up the votes to become the next speaker. Crisafulli saw his caucus expand Tuesday night as the GOP knocked off enough Democratic incumbents to build a veto-proof majority. With Scott staying in office, Crisafulli should have enough votes to get the Republican agenda through the House, though the Senate will often prove a different story.

Florida Medical Association. The FMA won big Tuesday night as Amendment 2 went down and 71 of 75 of the candidates it endorsed claimed victory. One of the most powerful groups in Tallahassee, the FMA only added to its luster as medical marijuana lost and most of their candidates rolled to victory.

Patrick Murphy. On a bad day for Democrats in Florida and across the nation, Murphy won big. Murphy squeaked in by a win over Allen West in 2012 but on Tuesday he blew out Carl Domino in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats. Murphy successfully claimed the political center and ran strong despite the Republican tide. Only 31, Murphy has a bright future, whether staying in Congress or trying his luck for statewide office.

Sunshine State News. SSN called the governor's race for Scott a clear hour ahead of the next news source, Associated Press. In 2010 SSN was also first reporting the even more shocking result -- that Scott had defeated Democrat Alex Sink. Sunshine's statistical analysis has been spot-on during Florida elections.

LOSERS

Mike Fasano.The Pasco County tax collector, former Republican state senator, considered something of a kingmaker in Pasco, nevertheless couldn't deliver his home county to his longtime friend Charlie Crist. Had Crist been victorious, Fasano was in line to become one of the most influential people in Tallahassee.

Dan Gelber.Ditto, Crist's top campaign adviser, the former Democratic state senator. Gelber was Crist's front man, his point man, throughout the campaign. It was Gelber who insisted at the second candidate debate that the fan stay. Had Crist won, Gelber was set to assume the confidante, chief of staff role George LeMieux enjoyed during Crist's previous administration.

David Rancourt.Lobbyist, Charlie Crist's friend and once-upon-a-time frat brother -- and more important, a Republican. His well-publicized generosity and loyalty to Charlie is likely to affect his stature among clients and potential clients.

Jack Latvala. Trying to catch Joe Negron to become Senate president in 2016, Latvala pinned his hopes on Ellyn Bogdanoff beating Maria Sachs and giving him one more vote in the caucus. But Bogdanoff fell short. Latvala campaigned for Scott but he would have been much more influential if Crist won, serving as a bridge between Senate Republicans and the Democratic governor. At least Latvala kept his Senate seat Tuesday while his son Chris won an open seat in the House.

Tom Lee. The Republican state senator won easily on Tuesday night to claim another term but Amendment 3, reforming how the governor can appoint judges, was his brainchild. It didnt even come close to reaching the 60 percent it needed to pass. With only 47 percent of voters behind it, it was the only proposed amendment that did not get a majority behind it.

John Morgan. What a disaster. Morgan was the force behind Amendment 2 and was counting on his old employee Crist to win on Tuesday. Instead, Morgans two causes went down to defeat and the trial attorney has to shoulder some of the blame, especially after a video of him rallying supporters of Amendment 2 with a profane-laden rant went viral. Supporters of medical marijuana are calling for the fight to go on, but they are already demanding Morgan play a smaller role. Thats not a natural play for Morgan, who stars in many of his firms commercials and whose face is plastered on billboards across the state.

Tom Steyer. The California billionaire vowed to make Scott pay for not believing in global warming. Steyer spent more than $15 million against Scott with his Next Gen Climate super-PAC and it didnt pay off. Even worse for Steyer, he spent big against Republican Senate candidates in key races and the GOP won control from the Democrats. A bad night all around for Steyer.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Sure, Wasserman Schultz easily dispatched her Republican challenger. But it was Wasserman Schultz who engineered the plan and wrote the playbook that took Charlie Crist in and sent Democratic chances to oblivion in 2014. And with Democrats losing across the nation, Wasserman Schultz will shoulder some of the blame: She is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). She should have gotten out after Obama won a second term in 2012.

Steve Schale. Despite the Obama campaign experience, the always-agitating egomaniacal senior adviser to Charlie Crist was largely ineffective. His scorched-earth policies toward perceived enemies within the party might well have turned off some of the clients and potential clients of his Tallahassee political consulting/lobbying firm, Schale Strategies.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News. Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith.

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