As a result of Florida’s 2010 midterm elections, Republicans have expanded their control in Tallahassee and their representation in Washington. As you know, business executive Rick Scott narrowly defeated state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink to become Florida’s 45th governor. In addition, Republicans swept all three statewide Cabinet races, increased members in the Florida Legislature and gained four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Statewide voter turnout was 64%, up from 47% in 2006.
The Governor’s Race
In one of the country’s closest gubernatorial elections, Rick Scott received 49% of the vote, compared to 48% for Alex Sink; the difference was 63,000 votes. Since entering the political scene in April, Scott spent more than $73 million of his own funds to defeat Attorney General Bill McCollum and CFO Sink. Given Scott’s stated focus on job creation and economic development, look for the Scott/Carroll administration to work actively to lure new companies and jobs to Florida as well as cut government regulations and red tape in state agencies.
Governor-elect Scott announced a nine-person advisory transition panel that includes U.S. Senator George LeMieux, former Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre. The gubernatorial transition is being run out of Ft. Lauderdale; details can be found at http://www.scotttransition.com.
Florida Cabinet Races
As a result of the midterms, Republicans will control the entire Florida Cabinet for the first time. Senate President Jeff Atwater easily defeated Democrat Lorrane Ausley in the race for CFO, 58% to 38%. Tampa Prosecutor Pam Bondi defeated State Senator Dan Gelber by a vote of 55% to 41%, and will become the first female attorney general in state history. Republican Adam Putnam will return to Tallahassee following his defeat of Democrat Scott Maddox in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services by a margin of 56% to 38%. Inauguration Day is Tuesday, January 4, 2011.
The Florida Legislature
Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon will preside over veto-proof majorities in the Florida Senate and House. Republican legislative candidates dominated their opponents from the Panhandle to south Florida. Republicans picked up two seats in the Senate, increasing their number from 26 to 28 members. In the House, Republicans picked up five seats, increasing their members from 76 to 81. Legislators will come to Tallahassee on November 16, 2010 for an Organizational Session, and will consider nine pieces of legislation that were vetoed by Governor Charlie Crist during last spring’s legislative session. The legislation being considered for overrides includes: Windstorm Mitigation (HB 545); Agricultural Land Classification (HB 981); State Owned Land Database (HB 1516); Solid Waste (HB 569); and Remediation of Petroleum Sites (HB 1385). Other bills include HB 1565, Agency Rule Making; SB 1842, Public Roadways; HB 5603 Worker’s Comp/Drug Repackaging; HB 5611, DMS under the Governor and Cabinet; and a Shands Teaching Hospital appropriation.
Florida Congressional Delegation
Marco Rubio had a commanding win over Democrat Kendrick Meek and No Party Affiliated candidate Charlie Crist. Rubio takes the seat currently held by George LeMieux, who was appointed to the Senate following the retirement for Senator Mel Martinez in September 2009. Four U.S. House seats switched from Democrats to Republicans and were part of the historic 61-seat swing nationwide that gave Republicans control of the House. (Democrats Allen Boyd, Alan Grayson, Ron Klein and Suzanne Kosmas were defeated by Republicans Steve Southerland, Dan Webster, Allen West and Sandy Adams.) As a result of the midterms, the number of Florida House Republicans increased from 14 to 18 out of 25. The 111th Congress returns to Washington on November 15 for a lame duck session. Potential issues to be considered include extending the Bush tax cuts. The 112th Congress convenes in early January 2011.
Voters approved Amendments 5 and 6, which reform the way congressional and legislative redistricting will be handled by the Legislature. Supporters argue for a less political attempt in drawing maps following the census. Expect legal challenges moving forward. Amendment 4, the Hometown Democracy amendment, was soundly defeated. Had it passed, it would have given residents the opportunity to approve land use changes; some say this would have halted development in Florida. Amendment 8, an effort to relax school class size requirements, failed to meet the 60% threshold and was also defeated.