Florida Five: Scott wins, Pot loses, GOP sweeps Cabinet

Five of today’s top Florida election stories at your fingertips:

Rick Scott wins
Photo credit: Scott McIntyre/Staff NaplesNews.com

Rick Scott wins re-election by slim margin after bitter campaign against Charlie Crist – Republican Gov. Rick Scott narrowly defeated Democrat Charlie Crist on Tuesday, ending the nation’s costliest and the state’s nastiest gubernatorial campaign with a slim margin of less than 75,000 votes. “We have made great strides in the last four years, but we cannot rest on our laurels,” Scott told supporters joining him in a Bonita Springs hotel ballroom. “Now is the time to charge boldly ahead.” Minutes after Scott addressed his supporters, Crist spoke to his. “This was a tough election and I understand that,” Crist said before the group gathered at The Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg. “I wish Gov. Scott the best.” Scott won with only 48 percent of the more than 5.9 million votes cast, while Crist received about 47 percent, and independent and other candidates shared about 5 percent, according to unofficial and incomplete election results. The lack of a majority likely is the result a race that was packed with negative attacks for nearly a year. Read more

Republicans again sweep Florida Cabinet races – Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam all easily defeated their Democratic opponents Tuesday, positioning them for possible runs for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018. All three of them massively outspent their Democratic opponents and have much higher public profiles. With almost 95 percent of precincts reported, Bondi led George Sheldon 55 percent to 42 percent, with Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer getting about 3 percent. Bondi outspent Sheldon, a former legislator and Department of Children and Families head, by almost a 3-to-1 margin. Read more

Florida voters reject medical marijuana measure – Voters in Florida on Tuesday rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for chronic illnesses. The Florida medical marijuana measure had wide popular support, but became targeted by a well-funded pushback by a major Republican donor. Florida would have been the 24th state to allow pot for medical use. The amendment would have given doctors the ability to prescribe marijuana for eight “debilitating” diseases: cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Read more

GOP grabs supermajority in Florida House – The already-conservative Florida House will lean even more to the right the next two years. Republicans, as part of a national wave, regained hold of a supermajority Tuesday in the lower chamber. The party retained two Republican-held seats where it faced serious challenges, while flipping six Democrat-held seats that were heavily contested in the Interstate 4 corridor. Outgoing House Speaker Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, called the Tuesday night results a “validation of the policies we’ve been fighting for the last several years.” “This is a great Republican night across the board,” Weatherford said. Read more

Florida Congressional races: Graham and Curbelo – In one of the most closely watched and most expensive congressional races in the country, Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Democratic Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham, beat Republican Congressman Steve Southerland. The Associated Press declared Graham the winner as she held a 1 percentage point lead over Southerland with 99 percent of the precincts reported. Graham’s campaign criticized the partisanship in Washington, saying Congress needed someone who would use the “north Florida way” of cooperating despite party differences … In South Florida, Republican Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo defeated Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia.The AP declared Curbelo the winner as he held a lead over Garcia with 94 percent of the precincts reported. Garcia earned local bipartisan support and tackled national issues like immigration. But he faced allegations of corruption related to his ex-chief of staff’s conviction of filling out multiple absentee ballot requests. Federal prosecutors are investigating whether the staffer funded a shadow candidate during Garcia’s unsuccessful 2010 campaign. Read more

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