Democrat Good takes Florida House 72 seat

Vote total — 44,188 — is more than half the number cast for the seat in the 2016 General Election

These are the unofficial results of the House 72 Special Election on Feb. 13. Image courtesy Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections

With voter turnout hitting the 36.06% mark on Feb. 13, Democrat Margaret Good won the Florida House 72 seat that state Rep. Alex Miller of Sarasota officially gave up on Sept. 1 2017.

Good took 52.17% of the total number of votes cast, with Republican James Buchanan in second place, winning 44.8%, according to unofficial returns reported by the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Libertarian Alison Foxall captured 1,338 votes, or 3.03% of the total.

Altogether, 44,188 votes were cast in the race, according to the unofficial results. On Feb. 13, the number of registered voters in the district was 122,615, the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office reported.

When Miller, a Republican, won the House 72 seat in the November 2016 General Election, 86,917 votes were cast; 50,468 of them went to her. Republican Ray Pilon carried the district with 57.91% of the 62,584 votes cast in the 2014 General Election. Pilon also was the victor in 2012, winning 53.9% of the 81,351 votes cast in the race, according to the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office.

The unofficial results on the night of Feb. 13 showed Buchanan — son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key — winning just three precincts. One of those was 411, which is located at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on Siesta Key. Good resides on the island. Of the 1,699 votes cast at that precinct, Buchanan won 920 to Good’s 721; Foxall had the remaining 58, the unofficial results say.

Margaret Good. Image from the Matthews Eastmoore website

Nonetheless, Good carried the remaining Siesta precincts, according to the unofficial results.

Buchanan also carried Precinct 131, located at Oakwood Manor at 330 Fruitville Road in Sarasota; Precinct 223, which is located at Southside Baptist Church on Magnolia Street in Sarasota; and Precinct 427, located at Nokomis Beach Plaza. However, only eight votes were cast at Precinct 223, the unofficial results show; Buchanan won five of them. Thirty-one were cast at the Nokomis Beach Plaza precinct, the unofficial results say, and 22 of them went to Buchanan.

The precincts with the highest percentage of voter turnout for the special election were 121 (52.8%); 421 (47.89%); and 417 (47.37%), the unofficial results say. Precinct 121 is located at The Meadows Community Center; 421 is located at the Turtle Beach Recreation Building on Siesta Key; and 417 is located at the Covenant Life Presbyterian Church on McIntosh Road in Sarasota.

Good carried all three of those.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) issued a statement on Feb. 14, applauding Good’s defeat of James Buchanan and pointing out that Buchanan is the son of Vern Buchanan, who holds Florida’s U.S. House 16 seat.

In that statement, DCCC spokesperson Cole Leiter said,

“Margaret Good’s overwhelming victory in Florida’s [House District] 72 demonstrates that voters are energized to cast their ballot for a candidate who can shake up our broken political system, not the son of a Washington establishment politician. … [T]his big Democratic victory should put the elder Buchanan on notice …”

Leiter added, “Democratic candidate Dave Shapiro [of Sarasota] has already hit the ground running in the race for Congress, and will be a very strong competitor in November.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden had endorsed Good for the Florida House seat.

A number of national news media outlets reported on Good’s victory. The Hill wrote, “Democrats on Tuesday won yet another special election for a state legislative seat once held by a Republican, this time in a battleground seat south of Tampa, Fla.” It noted that President Donald Trump carried the same district by about 5 percentage points in 2016.

A graphic shows that Good, represented by the blue shading, carried all but four precincts. Image courtesy Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski held a rally for James Buchanan last weekend in Sarasota.

The Hill also pointed out that the House District 72 results marked the 17th time a Republican-held seat has fallen “into Democratic hands since Trump was inaugurated.”

The Hill is widely known for its coverage of Congress, the presidency and election campaigns.

The Washington Post reported late on Feb. 13, “[Good’s] upset is likely to reverberate through the two major parties as they gear up for the midterm election cycle.”

On Feb. 14, a National Public Radio report also characterized Good’s victory as a sign “of a building national momentum heading into the midterm elections this fall.”

The finances

The last campaign finance reports the three House 72 candidates filed prior to the election showed Good with a total of $484,388.89 in monetary contributions, plus $57,312.46 in in-kind support. She had spent $409,635.84, the document says.

Buchanan raised $353,320 in monetary contributions, his filing shows, plus $33,625 he loaned the campaign on Feb. 8 and $141,726.11 in in-kind support. He had spent $343,929.19, the document says.

Foxall raised only $30,304.78, plus $671.95 in in-kind contributions; she had spent $27,170.96, her filing shows.

Good’s final contribution list, prior to the election, totaled 53 pages, based on a Sarasota News Leader review of all three candidates’ records. Contributions from individuals to the Good campaign ranged from $1 up to $1,000.

On Feb. 8, she received $39,549.97 from the Florida Democratic Party. The Democratic National Committee gave her $180 the same day.

A section of the final page of James Buchanan’s last campaign finance report before the election shows several contributions from the Republican Party of Florida. Image courtesy Florida Department of State

In contrast, Buchanan’s contributions’ list prior to the election ran seven pages in length.

The Republican Party of Florida provided a number of contributions in the final days of the campaign, Buchanan’s finance report shows, including $7,000 on Jan. 26; $2,000 on Feb. 1; $3,418.24 on Feb. 6; $2,000 on Feb. 7; and more than $65,000 on Feb. 8.

Foxall’s total campaign finance report before the election comprised four pages. The contributions from individuals ranged from $5 to $1,000. Additionally, the Libertarian Party of Sarasota gave her $9,700 on Jan. 28, while the Libertarian Party of Florida contributed $1,000 on Nov. 28, 2017. She also received $1,000 from the Libertarian National Committee on Dec. 19, 2017.