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21 posts from November 7, 2012

November 07, 2012

Broward GOP losses no shocker after redistricting and high Obama turnout

The Broward GOP suffered some key losses Tuesday night:

* Sheriff: Incumbent Al  Lamberti lost to his 2008 challenger, Scott Israel,  who was a former North Bay Villege police chief and higher-up in the Fort Lauderdale police department. That means the Broward GOP lost their only countywide  office holder.

* State senate District 34: In a battle between two state legislators, Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale lost to Democrat Maria Sachs in a newly-drawn left leaning Broward/Palm Beach district.

* Congress: U.S. Rep. Allen West moved out of the Broward/Palm Beach District 22 for District 18 on the Treasure Coast. That move didn't work -- he narrowly lost to 29-year-old Democrat Patrick Murphy. At the moment, that race is outside of recount territory and in Murphy's hands. Former GOP House Majority Leader Adam Hasner ran in West's place in the Broward/Palm Beach District 22 and lost to Democrat Lois Frankel, a former state legislator and West Palm Beach mayor. It was always a given that DNC chair U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston would win by a wide margin, but she trounced Republican Karen Harrington 63 to 35 percent.

But the GOP losses -- mirrored by other big GOP losses in Florida -- were not a surprise given the strong Democratic turnout for President Barack Obama, redistricting and the push by Democrats to get their voters to not skip the sheriff's race this year. In 2008, about 50,000 who voted for president skipped the sheriff's race -- that number dropped to about 29,000 this time.

"The  Democrats definitely got out there," said GOP  chairman Richard DeNapoli, who said Lamberti was also hurt by a late push of attacks. "All those cards had Scott Israel's name on them. That had some impact."

Broward Republicans were hurt by redistricting which moved Congressional District 22 from a swing district to safe Democratic territory and made Senate District 34 more favorable to a Democrat, giving Sachs the edge.

"There are no safe seats in Broward after redistricting," DeNapoli said. "We got hurt."

The Broward GOP had a few successes including:

* State Rep.George Moraitis of Fort Lauderdale held on to his seat although it is less of a R-leaning district than the past

* Donna Korn won her school board race against longtime Democratic state legislator Franklin Sands. (In August, Katie Leach, another Republican, won her school board race.)

* Coral Springs City Commissioner Vincent Boccard won the mayor's seat. On the Hollywood city commission, Republican Patricia Asseff won but Heidi O'Sheehan lost.  Technically these seats are non-partisan but city commissioners can end up running for higher office and help other Republican candidates.






Obama turnout machine smashes the tea-party china in Florida.

Florida voters to the tea party: Cool it.

Tuesday's election in the nation's biggest battleground state was a rejection of the drift of the conservative movement and the Republican Legislature it empowered.

The state voted, albeit as narrowly as possible, for President Obama, whose 2008 election brought about the rise of tea-party conservatism.  Iconic tea party Congressman Allen West might also lose (he's seeking a recount). He was painted as a name-calling extremist by Democratic opponent Patrick Murphy.

And voters rejected the Legislature's tea party-inspired proposed state constitutional amendments, starting with a measure opposing Obama's healthcare law.

The author of that proposal, Longwood state Rep. Scott Plakon, lost his election, which he credits to an Obama turnout machine that Republicans underestimated in Florida.

"This is hard for me to process," Plakon said. "With all the debt, all the unemployment and the bad economic indicators, how is it that Obama is only 2.5 percentage points down from where he was in 2008?"

Plakon pointed out that conservatism is alive and well in Florida; Obama barely won and the Legislature is still firmly in the hands of Republicans.

In congratulating Obama on his win, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio issued a statement last night re-affirming his commitment to conservative principles. But he subtly noted a shortcoming of the tea party: The tenor of the immigration debate, which probably cost Mitt Romney some support among Florida Hispanics, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.

"The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them," Rubio said.

Continue reading "Obama turnout machine smashes the tea-party china in Florida. " »

Updated results: Patrick Murphy defeats Allen West, avoids automatic recount

As Florida elections results were updated overnight, Democrat Patrick Murphy's lead over Republican Rep. Allen West widened and Murphy now appears to have defeated West by 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent -- a wide enough margin to avoid a recount.

Recounts are triggered by a margin within 0.5 percent.

We've updated our online story on South Florida congressional races to reflect the new results:

Another Republican incumbent, Rep. Allen West of Palm Beach Gardens, appeared to lose to Democrat Patrick Murphy by 2,456 votes in the early hours of Wednesday. Murphy got 50.4 percent of the vote to West’s 49.6 percent.

In District 18, there are still hundreds provisional ballots to be counted, but in those cases voters have to provide information to prove their ballots should be counted and it’s unlikely that all of them will, Eric Johnson, Murphy’s campaign consultant, said Wednesday morning. There are also absentee ballots remaining to be counted in Palm Beach.

The state elections website showed that the district which encompasses Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties gave a 2,456 voter edge to Murphy.

“There is no scenario where the 2,400 [edge that Murphy as] gets overturned,” he said. “Right now we are 700 votes outside the recount measure.”

The West campaign has not conceded, Johnson said. West’s campaign manager didn’t respond to emails Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Johnson said that he believes Murphy, 29, will become the youngest member of the next Congress but not the youngest in history.

Johnson attributed Murphy’s win to voters anger about attack ads.

“Patrick’s message over and over that we have to work together, not be divisive, the name calling has got to stop really sold with voters in the Treasure Coast,” Johnson said.

West was a Tea Party favorite and first-term member of Congress while Murphy is a 29-year-old businessman. In his first political race, Murphy tapped into Democrats’ nationwide distaste for West— a regular on Fox News who drew attention for saying several dozen of Democrats in the House are communists and calling U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) “vile.”

West raised about $17 million while Murphy raised more than $3.7 million in one of the most expensive House contests in the nation.

Murphy’s father gave $250,000 to a PAC that created an ad depicting a caricature of West, who is African-American, in boxing gloves punching an old white woman, a younger white woman and grabbing money from a black family. The ad was intended to depict West socking it to constituents over Medicare, health care and tax cuts.

More here.

Miami-Dade commissioners, ex-lawmaker poised to win county elections

Miami-Dade voters on Tuesday appeared poised to return one longtime incumbent, Audrey Edmonson, to the County Commission by a wide margin and ready, as well, to fill a vacant seat with another political veteran, former state Rep. Juan C. Zapata.

But, in something of a surprise, 14-year Miami-Dade Commission veteran Bruno Barreiro was locked in a closer-than-expected race with a seasoned challenger, outgoing state Rep. Luis Garcia, for the District 5 seat that includes southern Miami Beach, Little Havana and Brickell. Barreiro was maintaining a narrow lead late into the evening.

Garcia, a former Miami Beach commissioner and fire chief, was the sole surviving candidate of a slate recruited by Miami car dealer Norman Braman with the goal of unseating four commission incumbents who were up for re-election.

Garcia hammered his opponent for supporting the publicly subsidized Miami Marlins stadium, an issue that helped doom former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, also targeted by Braman in a successful recall vote last year. Braman’s political committee mailed fliers highlighting Barreiro’s support for the stadium and tying him to Alvarez.

Edmonson, who was pushed into a runoff by a novice candidate, Keon Hardemon, the 29-year-old scion of one of Liberty City’s most colorful and powerful political families, was beating her opponent handily with about two-thirds of the precincts in the district reporting. The District 3 seat runs from Overtown, up through Little Haiti, Allapattah, Wynwood, Brownsville and Liberty City, then hugs the coast from Miami Shores down through the Upper East Side and Edgewater.

Hardemon parlayed his family name into the runoff. But he struggled to gain traction across the sprawling, diverse district, and the campaign drew little notice. Edmonson largely treated the campaign, in her own words, as “a major distraction’’ from her work as a commissioner.

Zapata, meanwhile, appeared comfortably ahead of political newcomer Manny Machado, a Miami-Dade police detective, in what was a sometimes-bitter contest to replace outgoing Commissioner Joe Martinez for the District 11 seat, representing a vast swath of unincorporated, suburban west Miami-Dade that includes West Kendall. Martinez opted not to run for re-election to run — unsuccessfully — for county mayor.

Newbie Jose Javier Rodriguez poised to defeat Alex Diaz de la Portilla

Political newcomer Jose Javier Rodriguez made a strong showing Tuesday against one of Miami-Dade’s most well-known political figures for a seat in the Florida Legislature.

With some polls open late into the night, Rodriguez had a comfortable lead over veteran Republican lawmaker Alex Diaz de la Portilla in the hard-fought battle for state House District 112.

“We were talking to voters everyday,” Rodriguez said. “We really ran a really grassroots campaign. It was never about my opponent. It was never about the partisan battle lines in Tallahassee either.”

In other races, South Floridians opted to send familiar faces back to Tallahassee.

Voters favored incumbent Gwen Margolis over newcomer John Couriel in the closely watched race for Senate District 35.

More on South Florida's other state House and Senate races here.

Miami-Dade voters back term limits for commissioners

The 14th time looked to be the charm for County Hall reformers who were on their way to forcing term limits on Miami-Dade commissioners — some of whom have clung onto their district seats for almost two decades.

Voters who flooded the polls Tuesday also were saying they wanted to make it tougher for developers to build outside the county’s far western edge, and to make it easier for citizens to carve out new Miami-Dade cities.

With early and absentee votes counted, and 79 percent of precincts reporting, all 10 of the county’s proposed charter changes were ahead at the polls — reflecting a continued rejection of the status quo that swept two elected leaders from office through a recall last year.

“I voted ‘yes’ on term limits,” said Maria Lleonart, a 51-year-old Miami housewife. “These people get too comfortable in there and we’ve got to get them out.”

For the first time in five decades, voters were offered the opportunity to set term limits for commissioners without any strings attached. Commissioners would now be allowed only two four-year terms, excluding terms of service prior to 2012.

Commissioner Lynda Bell, who co-sponsored the term-limit item with Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, called it “the most substantive change we’ve had in the recent history of charter amendments.’’

Bell, one of the newest commissioners on the dais, said voters made it clear when she campaigned two years ago that “they wanted term limits, and they wanted eight years.’’ 

More from Charles Rabin here.

Miami-Dade voters back creation of Pets' Trust

Voters in Miami-Dade overwhelmingly supported a measure that could save the lives of more than 20,000 cats and dogs a year, and set the county on a path to achieve its “no kill’’ goal for the Animal Services Department.

The straw-vote victory on a ballot question to support a small property-tax increase for animal welfare now puts the issue in the hands of the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Commissioners wanted to see whether the public favored the issue in principle, and how enthusiastically.

As of late Tuesday, with 627 of the county’s 829 precincts reporting, voters said yes to the Pets’ Trust, by an almost 2-to-1 margin.

Commissioners are now likely to create the agency, which would augment efforts by Miami-Dade Animal Services Department to reduce pet overpopulation and shelter deaths.

The department takes in about 37,000 unwanted cats and dogs a year.

More than half are never adopted, and end up euthanized. More from Elinor J. Brecher here.

UPDATED David Rivera loses U.S. House seat to Joe Garcia, Allen West falls behind Patrick Murphy

U.S. Rep. David Rivera — whose tenure was marked by a series of scandals and who remains the target of two federal investigations — was booted out of office Tuesday, becoming the only Miami-Dade congressional incumbent to lose his seat in recent memory.

Rivera, a Republican, lost to Democrat Joe Garcia, who handily picked up the Kendall-to-Key West seat for his party on a night when the GOP kept control of the U.S. House of Representatives. It was Rivera’s first-ever loss at the polls in a political career going back a decade.

“Thank you, South Florida!” a buoyant Garcia, 49, told more than a hundred supporters who were packed into Casa Vieja, a Colombian restaurant in West Kendall. “Today, our community has spoken. It has decided to turn a new page, move in a new direction.”

Another Republican incumbent, Rep. Allen West of Palm Beach Gardens, appeared to lose to Democrat Patrick Murphy by a sliver in the early hours of Wednesday. The race will likely head to a recount.

In his victory speech, Garcia called for compromise between Democrats and Republicans. In his only reference to his opponent, Garcia said Rivera “ran a hard campaign. We wish him and his family well.”

Two candidates without party affiliation, Angel Fernandez and Jose Peixoto, also competed.

In a third closely watched South Florida congressional contest, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, a Democrat, easily beat former state House Republican Leader Adam Hasner in a race for an open seat that stretches from Fort Lauderdale to Riviera Beach.

Rivera, a former state representative and powerful Florida House budget chief, tacitly conceded defeat Tuesday night.

“The results are still incomplete, but they do not appear to be positive,” he said. “I want to thank my friends and family and God for all the blessings I have received from this community. It has been a great honor to serve this community for 10 years.”

“In or out, I will keep fighting — that will never change,” he added. “We must make sure that this district returns to a Republican congressman in 2014.” More here.

Did Broward Sheriff Lamberti lose due to less ballot drop off than 08?

In 2008, when Republican Al Lamberti pulled off a rare feat in Democratic-rich Broward and won the sheriff's race, about 50,000 voters who cast ballots in the presidential race skipped the sheriff's race. That means there were tens of thousands of voters who were psyched to vote in the historic election of Barack Obama but didn't bother with the sheriff's race. And Democrat Scott Israel narrowly lost despite a strong showing in the condo communities and black majority-precincts -- go-to areas for a Democrat.

But this year, Israel was leading the sheriff with just one precinct yet to report around 12:30 a.m. The unofficial results so far show that about 29,000 voters who cast cast ballots in the presidential race skipped the sheriff's race. That smaller amount of ballot drop off could be part of the reason behind Israel's success this time.

Just like in 2008, both sides launched negative attacks so it would be hard to pinpoint any of that on Israel's success. Israel attacked Lamberti for his connection to convicted Ponzi schemer attorney Scott Rothstein but loads of politicians and candidates -- including Lamberti and Israel -- courted Rothstein and his big bucks in 2008 a year before Rothstein's downfall.


President Barack Obama’s ground game delivers in Florida

Ground game matters. Organization matters.

That’s the biggest takeaway from President Obama’s strong showing Tuesday in Florida, a state with such high unemployment and home-foreclosure rates that it was primed for a Republican win.

But, with thousands of votes still out Tuesday night, Obama appeared close to winning the nation’s largest battleground state, thanks to a mammoth grassroots campaign. It appeared to kill Mitt Romney’s chance of unseating the incumbent.

Obama led Romney 50-49 percent in Florida, according to Edison Research’s exit poll that exactly mirrored the results of the actual vote as of Tuesday night.

With voters casting ballots well into the night, the final tally for Florida won’t be clear until at least Wednesday afternoon, when Miami-Dade County plans to announce its final results. More than 18,000 absentee ballots turned in Tuesday have yet to be counted.

The race could be close enough to trigger a recount — unless it is waived by Romney, who likely lost the overall election to the president, according to exit polls.

Obama’s strength: Liberal Southeast Florida, where early vote returns showed the president nursing a double-digit lead. Romney did well in conservative North Florida.

For the first time ever, a Democratic presidential candidate won absentee ballots — typically a Republican strength — in Miami-Dade County, with Obama eking out a 382-vote margin. That was a leading indicator of Obama’s strong grassroots campaign, which involved 200,000 unpaid volunteers who helped register 320,000 new voters this year.

Obama won big with the fastest-growing segment of the electorate: Hispanic voters, who voted for the Democrat, 60-39 percent, the exit poll showed. That’s better than Obama did in 2008.

Obama’s Hispanic-vote margin came despite a massive Hispanic-outreach effort by Romney, who struggled at times in the general election because of the hardline immigration policies he espoused during the Republican primary. Obama won big in Osceola and Orange counties, home to a burgeoning Democratic-leaning Puerto Rican population that’s starting to counterbalance Cuban-American Republicans in Southeast Florida.

More here