The “blue wave” never developed the way Democrats had hoped Tuesday night in Florida’s midterm election, and one of the reasons it didn’t was the “red wall” thrown up by Florida Republicans led by Gov. Rick Scott and former Congressman Ron DeSanti
DeSantis was an underdog that wasn’t given much of a chance of winning from the minute he entered the race for governor. But, he came from behind to win the Republican nomination with the help of President Donald Trump,and he came from behind once again Tuesday night to be elected Florida’s next governor.
Early returns gave Democrat `Andrew Gillum a comfortable lead that he held until around 8 p.m. when returns started coming in from the state’s western part of the Panhandle — a rural, more conservative area of the state which sits in the Central Time Zone.
Within a half hour after the polls closed in the Panhandle, DeSantis edged into a narrow lead that he held the rest of the evening.
The same held true in the race for U.S. Senate, which saw Scott trailing Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson early in the evening, but jumping into a slim lead when the western counties closed their polls.
Both DeSantis and Scott provided the “red wall,” stopping any hopes that Democrats may have had for big pickups in Florida. But that wall consisted of margins of 1 percent or less in both contests.
The red wall didn’t just stop at the top two races on the ballot. Republicans also swept the three races for the three positions on the Florida Cabinet.
The race for Agriculture Commissioner saw Republican Matt Caldwell narrowly defeating Democrat Nikki Fried, although the margin could be narrow enough to trigger an automatic recount.
In the contest for attorney general, former Hillsborough County circuit court judge Ashley Moody defeated Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa.
“It has been a long journey, one not possible without efforts of so many people to whom I will be eternally grateful,” Moody said Tuesday night. “I will remember every day in office that the voters have trusted me with a great power and, with it, comes great responsibility. I will always remember it is not about me, it is about you and ensuring at the end of the day, I defend the rights that guaranteed that you are in charge.
Meanwhile, current Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis held off Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring.
The night may have been a disappointment to state Democrats, but they did pick up at least a couple of key congressional seats. Former Health and Human Services secretary and University of Miami president Donna Shalala flipped the District 27 seat which was left vacant by retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
“Tonight, South Florida elected a proven leader and dedicated public servant in Congresswoman-elect Donna Shalala,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo. “Throughout her career, Donna has been on the front lines fighting on the issues our communities care about, including health care, gun safety, and education.
In the race for the District 26 seat, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ousted Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo from the District 26th seat.
As for the 12 amendments on the ballot, most of them received the 60 percent approval level needed for passage. The only amendment that failed to receive 60 percent was Amendment 1, which would have raised the homestead property tax exemption by $25,000 for homes worth more than $100,000.
Among some of the key amendments approved by voters are Amendment 3 which gives voters the authority to approve gambling issues in Florida; Amendment 4 which automatically restores the voting rights of ex-felons; Amendment 5, requires a supermajority vote in the Legislature in order to raise taxes; Amendment 6, which expands the scope of victims’ rights in Florida and raises the mandatory retirement age to 70; Amendment 9, which bans offshore oil drilling and vaping in enclosed places; and, Amendment 13, which bans greyhound racing in Florida.