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Atwater Outdistances Ausley for Chief Financial Officer

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Tallahassee, FL – Republican Jeff Atwater, the president of the Florida Senate, has defeated former Democratic lawmaker Loranne Ausley to become the state's next chief financial officer. Margie Menzel reports.

Atwater, the state senator from North Palm Beach, outpaced Ausley by 57 to 39 percent, with two independent candidates splitting the rest of the vote. He outspent Ausley more than two to one in a campaign that saw no public debates. Atwater credited his message, which he described as transparency, saving taxpayers' money and helping entrepreneurs.

"And they will create jobs, which was the center theme of a longer, bigger conversation," he said. "And so I think it was clarity of message and consistency that that's how we see Florida's future success that maybe we could contribute the success of the evening based upon that that message was clear and now, therefore, comes the responsibility to follow through."

Ausley, a Tallahassee attorney and former four-term state representative, had accused Atwater of supporting the "pay-to-play" culture of the state capital and she biked more than 400 miles in pursuit of a debate with him. But on Tuesday night, she said, she was putting that behind her.

"We fought to the end, and I had a good conversation with Jeff this evening, and congratulated him on the race and told him I looked forward to working with him," said Ausley. "The bottom line is: You're in the heat of battle, but when the battle's over it's time to put the partisan labels behind and work together to turn the state around."

The CFO sits on the Cabinet with the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner. Atwater will oversee the state's treasury, insurance department, fire marshal's office and banking and finance divisions.