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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Democrats make meager gains in Florida Legislature



Democrats gained a little ground in the Florida Legislature on Tuesday, but it was far from the dramatic change some had banked on.

Democrats picked up just one seat in the Florida Senate and now Republicans hold a 25 to 15 advantage. In the House Democrats are close to gaining two seats in the Florida House, to cut the GOP majority there to 79-41.

While it is progress, it is far from the 3 to 5 seats Democrats were hoping to pick up in the Senate and 5 to 7 seats they anticipated in the House. Republicans will retain dominating majorities in both the House and the Senate, plus Republicans hold the governor’s mansion and all three of the other elected cabinet positions.

“It was clearly not a good night,” state Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said.

With bigger gains, Democrats could have been in better position to slow down bad Republican policies, Clemens said.

“We’re going to see more of the same,” Clemens said.

Incoming Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said the results show Republicans can win down ballot even in places that may not seem hospitable at first glance.

“I think it demonstrates that a superior candidate with a more persuasive message will win regardless of the environment,” said Negron, who estimated he drove a thousand miles a week in support of GOP candidates.

With that big of a majority, bills to allow guns on school campus, allow open carry of firearms and restrict bathrooms used by people who are transgender are all more likely to get a serious hearing in the Florida Senate, Negron said.

"I would expect those issue will be debated, and other," Negron said. "I'm not afraid of any ideas." 

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 9, 2016 11:20am]


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