Election Recap: Florida Cabinet Race Wins, Losses

Nov 7, 2014

Florida’s Cabinet will look exactly the same as it did when they were elected in 2010. In this election recap, we'll look at their respective races, including the Attorney General’s race.

By a one percent edge, Governor Rick Scott claimed victory over Democrat challenger Charlie Crist. But, for the rest of the Florida Cabinet, they coasted to victory by double-digit percentages.

Take the Florida Attorney General’s race, for example. Republican incumbent Pam Bondi defeated both her challengers, after receiving 55 percent of the vote.

And, during her speech, she talked about her fight in the gay marriage ban issue. She also reminded her supporters of her involvement in going against the Affordable Care Act—also called “ObamaCare.”

“…the mandate of ObamaCare—where more than half of the nation’s Attorneys general spoke up and asked the Supreme Court to weigh in,” said Bondi. “This wasn’t about politics or ideology. This was about the law.”

And, she also vowed to continue her fight for a number of issues, including her anti-human trafficking efforts.

“We just formed a council on human trafficking that I’ll be chairing for the next three years. We’re fighting a war on drugs still, and we’re not going to give up,” said Bondi, talking to reporters.

Bondi also thanked her two opponents for a race well fought.

On a three-to-one margin, Bondi outraised George Sheldon, her Democrat challenger and the former head of the Florida Department of Children and Families. Throughout the campaign, Bondi also rotated some ads, highlighting her prescription drug abuse and anti-human trafficking efforts.

Sheldon and Libertarian Bill Wohsifer, not only had little cash in the race, they also did not run any TV ads. And, there was one debate that aired in only two areas: Tampa—Bondi’s hometown—and Orlando.

Still, Sheldon says he’s proud of the campaign he ran and hopes to work with Bondi in the future, adding he’s glad he stuck to his principles in this race.

“Principles of integrity, of aggressiveness, speaking up for children, saying that everyone in this country ought to be equal and they ought to have the right to love the person that they do love and to marry that individual and to say that every person in this country has a right to Affordable Health Care,” said Sheldon.

As for Tallahassee Attorney Bill Wohlsifer, more than 168,000 people voted for the Libertarian candidate. He says even getting close to three-percent is huge for a third-party candidate and they can only build from here.

“People are afraid to vote against the candidate,” said Wohlsifer. “They’re afraid if they vote for the Libertarian candidate, then the candidate they don’t want to win will win. We’ve got to overcome that and we’re on the right track. The campaign was more of a movement and we’re going in the right direction.”

And, Bondi wasn’t the only win of the night.

“I have been informed that the Associated Press has called our race and that we won,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, on Election Night to a cheering crowd.

Putnam took more than 58 percent of the vote. During his victory speech, he even thanked his opponent Thaddeus Hamilton, who had more than 30 years of experience working for the federal agriculture agency.

“We ran a positive campaign and so did my opponent,” said Putnam. “We focused on what we’ve done, but not just what we’ve done, but what we can do, what we can be, what we can achieve together as a state, and where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater was also elected to a second term with more than 58 percent of the vote, and he thanked voters on behalf of the Florida Cabinet during his Election Night speech.

“And, it looked like overwhelmingly the people in Florida are giving us that second. So, to everyone in Florida, we want to say thank you, we won’t let you down, and we’ll hustle again for you for four more years. Thank you very, very much on that front,” said Atwater to cheers.

Atwater’s Democrat challenger in the CFO race was William Rankin, a private business consultant and army vet. While they lost by double digits, both Rankin and Putnam’s challenger Hamilton—also a U.S. Army veteran—took more than two million votes each, even though they were little known and didn’t really have any financial backing.

And, Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant says despite the overall losses in this year’s election, it speaks to the strong loyalty and support Democrats still have.

“Both William Rankin and Thaddeus Hamilton ran races against established, entrenched, well-funded Republicans, and they did it on their sweat equity, very few resources, and they still gained a good number of votes and I’m very thankful for people who put themselves up to run because when you do take a leadership role, you do become a piñata in this state…and they did a good job, connected with voters, and yes, they, did get some support and I’m thankful for the votes they got,” said Tant.

Meanwhile, coming off some big wins, Republican Party of Florida Chair Leslie Dougher says she believes voters have spoken—and they like the GOP leadership that’s in place.

“You know, we ran an aggressive campaign from the Governor, from the entire Cabinet, that we put families first and we put jobs first and education,” said Dougher. “And, someone, like CFO Atwater [said], it’s your money we’re spending, we’re watching your money, and I think the voters really took that to heart when they went they looked at the different candidates.”

Both Dougher and Tant say they’re now looking forward, putting more of the focus on 2016 presidential election.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.