Florida political winners and losers for 2014

cropped-flsqueeze5.pngNOTE: Our Tuesday poll feature will return next week.

It’s that time of the year for reflections. 2014 was an election year and with it came the usual array of winners and losers. A difficult year for Democrats across the country as well as here in Florida saw clear winners and losers.



Special interests, corporate lobbyists and Tallahassee insiders celebrated Rick Scott and Pam Bondi’s reelection along with the Republican super-majority in the House. Despite a poor record of decent wage job creation and an even poorer record of luring corporations to Florida, in spite of cutting every tax conceivable the supporters of a special-interest dominated state, lesser environmental regulations and more tax cuts were the big victors.

Fear about Charlie Crist’s populist campaign rhetoric about corporate greed, the insurance industry, climate change, protecting women’s reproductive health and the restoration of civil rights struck fear in the hearts of a political establishment in the state that have had their way since Buddy Mackay was defeated by Jeb Bush in 1998.

So strong was the fear of Crist’s election, that an unprecedented amount of money was spent on campaigns in this state by conservative forces. The Scott-Crist race goes down as one of the most expensive Governor’s races in US History and much of it was down to the fear special interest groups had of the potential for Florida’s citizens to be truly liberated from the mad corporate and lobbyist-driven agenda of the Republican hegemony.

Thanks to Crist’s defeat as well as that of George Sheldon and six Democratic State House members, the GOP led by Rick Scott and Pam Bondi will have nearly unfettered power statewide over the next two years if not longer. This serves the interest of the special interests that have a financial stake in maintaining the status quo political leadership in Tallahassee.


The exorbitant spending in Florida state elections was a boon for political operatives and campaign vendors, especially direct mail and TV ad placement specialists. The unprecedented amount of money flowing around the state on both sides of ledger this year eventually hit a law of diminishing returns. Governor Rick Scott’s negative campaign hit a point of diminishing returns weeks before the election and Governor Crist’s campaign may have done the same. The result was lower voter turnout, cynicism about both candidates and a general lack of enthusiasm among the electorate. In counties like Broward, the amount of money flowing around has turned many of those who claim to be ideological into nothing more than paid political operatives focused on personal conflicts with little or no compass on the issues that really matter to citizens. Ultimately all this money is bad for both parties and for Florida’s democratic system.


My view is that while the Florida Democratic Party is a long way off from being a truly effective statewide force, the tenure of Allison Tant has seen marked improvement over each of her three predecessors. But election results often create panic and Democrats in Florida are experts at eating their own, playing up internal conflicts and over reacting to things. I have been through many cycles like this where the post mortems are not kind and the thought is that everything has to be blown up and rebooted. In many of the previous cycles this was an accurate reflection of reality but today it is less necessary at least on the state level.

In the past, the state party had leaders less willing to be flexible and change than Tant is today.  I believe strongly that things are improving at the state level with better staff, better techniques, much better targeting and more interest in localized issues. Still none of these four factors are where they need to be, yet and the FDP is only a chain in a link between national and local which is dysfunctional.

Local county DECs have proven to be largely ineffectual in moving votes, corralling activists or recruiting candidates.  Local parties have become merely glorified debating societies with the exception of some effective committees, most notably Sarasota County. In many cases activist organizations have been forced to pick up the slack locally because the DECs have flopped so badly.

The national party badly failed Florida this cycle and have done little to make the Democratic brand identifiable on the national level. Republicans today hold a greater percentage of Governorships and state legislative chambers than anytime since the Reconstruction era. They have their biggest Congressional majority since before the Great Depression.

I see progress on the state level but regression nationally and with most local DECs. That makes the Democratic Party a big loser, even at the state level where only so much can be done.


The citizens of this state emerge from the election as the biggest losers. Subjected to a barrage of negative attack ads and half truths from both sides during the campaign, people disengaged and the results ended up being a rubber-stamp for the anti-consumer agenda.

Florida won’t be addressing Climate Change, building High Speed Rail, enacting a living wage, protecting the rights of women and minorities aggressively or expanding access to Health Care in the near future. The increased legislative majority for the GOP in addition to a return of all four Republicans to statewide office will result in more government by special interest and lobbyists and less citizen input. Whatever the flaws of Charlie Crist, he was the most in-tune candidate for Governor with this state since Buddy MacKay and ran on the most progressive platform since Steve Pajcic.

Pam Bondi’s return to office is an embarrassment for the state and her continued dogma around cases like marriage equality show how unwilling she is to check her ideological zeal at the door when serving Florida’s public.

The death of High Speed Rail is another indication that Republicans are not interested in really growing Florida’s economy or attracting high-end jobs to the state when it conflicts with the ideological talking points the party circulates. High Speed Rail is one jobs and economic program that would actually have a lasting impact unlike the half measures constantly undertaken by the state’s leaders.

Finally, the willingness of many Democrats in public office, especially State House members to talk openly about collaboration with the Republicans and the failure of them to use their positions to truly question the effectiveness of Republican pushed programs has cost the state. For sixteen years, many of Florida’s GOP leaders have plundered and pillaged the state in order to benefit the few. That trend shows no signs of letting up over the next few years and for that Florida’s citizens are the biggest losers of the year.


  1. On message even as the year ends. Love it!


  2. Nailed it!

    U r on fire lately!


  3. In one sentence the story is: Floridians emerged as the big losers in this election. I had said for months that this state–in the things that matter–cannot SURVIVE four more years of the unindicted felon! I look for a quiet exodus as FL morphs into the third-world “country” P. Rick has dreamed of! Many who arrive and become quickly disenchanted will then do the “J” routine, fleeing to GA and the Carolinas for a higher standard of living!


  4. Pat Lavins · ·

    I agree on all counts. The Florida Democrat Party acts as though the local county organizations do not even exist. They gave zero support for Gabriel Rothblatt who was the Democrat nominee. The worst thing though was the fact that neither the State nor Region assisted in the ousting Corry Westbrook who has been a discredit to the Democrat Party. In the first act of her campaign this legal resident of Washington, D. C. fraudulently obtained a Florida Voter Registration. As a result of a year long criminal investigation the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reommended the arrest and prosecution of Corry Westbrook. The State Attorney refused to take action as a criminal matter. Thus, Corry Westbrook who is still in denial about the objective review of her illegal and unethical actions is now considering being a candidate again in 2016.


  5. Great message….and no argument here, other then what to do about it….


  6. Fla Dem Insider · ·

    The biggest winners were also school choice advocates. We wil now have statewide vouchers.


  7. Old guy sittin' on the green bench · ·

    I think we all agree on who the biggest loser is, the people of our state.

    Like a lot of other “activist” fellow Dems I’ve worked on a number of different campaigns. On several of the “big” campaigns where there are organizers sent in to run the local effort, the organizers seemingly turned their collective backs on us smucks who live here. They endeavored to construct a purpose built organization which was solely committed to one candidate. In fact I recall one organizer who came in and commented to the effect that in their experience that local organizations hinder campaigns which is why he avoids working with local clubs and most county organizations. Seems to me that’s like re-inventing the wheel every time the circus comes to town. That’s a hell of a way to run railroad ,,, eh?


    1. Pat Lavins · ·

      I agree. The Florida Democrat Party has consistently ignored the small counties and are downright condensing rather than being a valuable resource. It is for this reason that a legal resident of Washington, D. C., Corry Westbrook, who deliberately violated Florida law in obtaining a Florida Voter Registration Card is still considering being a candidate again in 2016. The Florida Democrat Party should have ousted her immediately on receipt of the criminal investigation summary that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement validated her multiple felonies.


      1. We are looking deeper into this and I will be in touch with you soon on this Corry Westbrook matter.


  8. I would argue the biggest loser is also the environment and sugar as well as other polluters a big winner.


  9. Truth Teller · ·

    Dude you’re going to drive the Democratic Party off the cliff with your maniacal liberalism!


  10. What whiny crap. Why did Charlie accept over $600,000 from a single Houston, Texas lawyer? That is a special interest cabal. Charlie sold out years ago and he was rightly condemned for that by you silly little loser Democrats. But it was all right for Charlie tos ell out to a single lawyer from Texas, no? The rest of his soul was sold to John Morgan. Florida is lucky that Charlie lost. Remember when he junked millions of Everglades restoration so he could make a deal with a sugar company that saved them from bankruptcy and loaded their bank accounts with millions of taxpayer dollars?

    The only time Florida Democrats had their political act together was when it was the segregation party. Segregation doesn’t work anymore because Republicans brought civilization to Florida.


    1. I don’t disagree on the Crist donation from trial lawyers. The thing I will never understand though is why so many Republicans and some Democrats who profess to love the free market don’t apply the same principles to litigation. Why should caps be placed on damages and rewards thus preventing good PI attorneys from maximizing what the market and courts will allow them to make? The hypocrisy is based around politics.

      On Florida Dems, you are part right. No doubt segregation fueled a one-party Dem party monopoly in the state for years and Civil Rights laws suddenly made Republicans competitive. But in the late 1970s and early 1980s the Florida Democrats bounced back and created a modern party. But that was ripped apart in the 1990s by combination of arrogance, ineptitude and brilliance by the adversaries particularly Tom Slade, Al Cardenas and Jeb Bush to a lesser extent.


  11. Nailed it KK.


  12. Awesome job here! Nailed it!


  13. Broward Operative · ·


    You are nothing but a party hack. A disgrace. The real political blogs like Sunshine State News, Broward Beat, Saint Petersblog and Bizpac Review do real winners and losers lists and objectively look at things. They are straight shooters not reflexive attack dogs that hate the free market, capitalism, those who have actual skin in the game like consultants and lobbyists and promote a socialist free love agenda. I am a Democrat but pragmatism is important and since I work in the business I know both sides are right and wrong and both sides deserve to be heard.

    In the interest of full disclosure it is CRITICAL that you reveal your funding sources.

    To the readers, I would urge you read Saint Petersblog, Florida Politics or Sunshine State News if you want an accurate statewide picture. Those publications actually have non-Democratic sources. This is after all a Republican state.


    1. True Blue · ·


      Don’t listen to this troll

      Troll/Broward Operative

      F off! This is the ONLY objective statewide blog. The ONLY one. The ones you listed are all on the take or are Republicans –

      SSN – AIF and the Chamber
      BPR – Sugar
      Nevins – Not on the take but a Republican sympathizer

      The truth hurts sometimes especially when you are feeding at the trough. If you don’t have a conscience don’t bother those of us that do,



    2. Blame the publications that pay me to write about soccer and the George Sheldon Campaign that paid me to be Deputy Campaign Manager. They are the ones “funding” the site. We don’t have any donors or advertisers currently. This site loses money.


  14. Kartik, the measure of your incisive writing and advocacy of progressive causes are evident in the cowardice and fear of your detractors. Keep speaking truth to power, it becomes you.


  15. Patti Lynn · ·

    Florida is ripe for a consortium of folks interested in protecting the state’s natural resources. Environmentalists must join together to protect our water supply. That, in itself, will offer protections to the air, limit the paving over of environmentally sensitive lands, and protect those creatures bordering on extinction. If this can be done without involving ANY political party, so much the better. Ron Bergeron and Mitchell Berger come to mind. Although they both have many political interests, they have both worked to protect our environment and the state of Florida. There must be more where they came from..


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