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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Winners and losers of the 2016 election

13

November

Winners

Donald Trump. The part-time Florida resident defied the polls and skeptics and won the Sunshine State, proving that, yes, crowd sizes do matter. He even performed stronger than Mitt Romney in Palm Beach County, now home to the Southern White House, Mar-a-Lago.

Pam Bondi. The attorney general was an early Trump supporter and took a lot of lumps for soliciting donations from him and opting not to investigate Trump University consumer complaints. Don't be surprised to see her land in the Trump administration.

Susie Wiles. Trump's Florida campaign chief pulled it off with scant resources and limited support from top Florida Republicans. No other Republican strategist in this state has played a central role in electing a big-city mayor (Lenny Curry, Jacksonville), governor (Rick Scott) and president.

Deborah Cox-Roush. The former Hillsborough GOP chairwoman played a key role in organizing and harnessing grassroots enthusiasm.

Rick Scott. The governor backed the right horse, but probably blew it by opting to lead a pro-Trump super PAC. The likely U.S. Senate candidate in 2018 would have helped himself by warming up Trump's massive Florida rally crowds. Instead he had to keep his distance from the campaign because of his super PAC role.

Ballard Partners. The powerhouse lobbying firm now has close ties to the governor and the next president. Firm partners Brian Ballard and Wiles were key Trump supporters in Florida.

#NeverTrumpers. These Republicans — especially veteran Tallahassee strategists Rick Wilson and J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich — made a lot of noise thundering against their party's nominee and ultimately accomplished almost zip. But people willing to stand up for core principles are always winners in our book, especially compared to the countless GOP leaders who trashed Trump as a scourge on the party behind his back while publicly standing by him.

Adam Goodman. The Tampa media consultant, adviser to Bondi and early Trump enthusiast had been saying over and over again that Americans would be surprised by a hidden Trump vote that would make the difference even if polls showed Hillary Clinton narrowly ahead.

Charlie Crist. The ultimate career politician has had to spend six years out of public office. Now he finally gets to bring Carole Crist to Washington, as he first set out to do as a Republican running for U.S. Senate in 2010.

Marco Rubio. Trump's win complicates what was widely expected to be another presidential campaign in 2020. But after getting trounced by Trump in his home state primary last March, Rubio redeemed himself with a comfortable win over Democrat Patrick Murphy. He is only the second Republican re-elected to the U.S. Senate and the first elected in a presidential election year.

National Republican Congressional Committee. David Jolly's strong congressional campaign forced Democrats to spend more than $2 million in Pinellas County that they could have spent elsewhere. Jolly losing saves the committee — which loathes Jolly for calling it out for being consumed by money-raising — from dealing with him any more.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. The Miami Republican won big, despite a giant anti-Trump sentiment in Miami-Dade that many observers expected to drag him down.

John Morgan. The high-profile personal injury lawyer saw his medical marijuana initiative win comfortably — and he no longer has to keep Crist on his payroll.

State Rep. Carlos Trujillo. Being one of the few elected Republicans in Miami-Dade who vocally supported the president-elect surely will pay off.

Nick DiCeglie. Trump probably had more to do with it than the Pinellas GOP chairman, but DiCeglie is the guy in charge when Pinellas flipped from a decidedly Democratic county in 2012 to Republican this year.

Joe Gruters. The Sarasota GOP chairman was another early Trump supporter, and he won a state House seat.

Losers

Hillary Clinton. Well, obviously.

Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant and executive director Scott Arceneaux. Democrats have become accustomed to drubbings in off-year elections, but this one happened in a high-turnout presidential year. Tant announced Friday that she won't seek re-election to her post.

Hillsborough County. So much for being Florida's best presidential predictor. It had voted for every winning presidential candidate except one since 1960, but Hillsborough went solidly for Clinton this year.

Florida. The state lived up to its reputation as an unpredictable, nail-biting battleground. The last four elections have been decided by about 1 percentage point. But! Florida's must-win status for the GOP is now in doubt. Trump would still be president-elect if he had lost Florida but still carried Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Amendment 1 backers. Yes, everybody has to earn a buck. But the people shilling for the unsuccessful and downright deceitful solar power ballot initiative lost credibility. Next time they advocate something, voters have valid reasons to doubt their candor. Screven Watson, Sarah Bascom, Dick Batchelor, Matthew Carter and the James Madison Institute come to mind.

Rod Smith. The former state Democratic Party chairman and candidate for lieutenant governor tried to return to the Florida Senate but lost to Republican Keith Perry.

Jeb Bush. Trump's surprising rust-belt state wins seriously call into question the conventional wisdom that Bush would have been a stronger GOP nominee. The Bush-Clinton era is over — at least until George P. Bush runs for national office.

John Mica. Democratic newcomer Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park — and the anti-status quo mood in the electorate — swept the 23-year congressman from office.

[Last modified: Sunday, November 13, 2016 12:00am]

    

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