BROOKSVILLE — Democrat Sen. Barack Obama won Florida, but Republican Sen. John McCain won Hernando County with 51 percent of the vote.
Obama finished with 47 percent here, or 3,158 votes behind McCain. The margin was closer than the 2004 contest when President Bush topped Sen. John Kerry by 5,448 votes.
The McCain win here was not a huge surprise, given the GOP's advantage in registered voters. It came as a blow, however, to local Democratic Party leaders and the Obama campaign, which both put significant resources into the race.
But local Democrats did achieve their larger goal: Keep the gap close enough to give Obama a chance to win Florida, which he did.
Spring Hill resident Brian Moore, the Socialist Party USA candidate, drew 318 votes statewide, 17 in Hernando County.
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Turnout failed to meet expectations despite a strong increase in early voting. Voters met lines in the morning but the crowds disappeared by afternoon and never returned.
All told, 71.9 percent of the county cast ballots, compared to 73.7 percent in 2004.
"I kind of thought it was going to be higher," said Annie Williams, the county's elections supervisor
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Republicans took a near-sweep at the local level, leaving just one Democrat as victor in a partisan race: Williams.
The outcome ignited a debate in local political circles about the affect of non-party candidate Gus Guadagnino in her race.
Republican Executive Committee Chairwoman Ana Trinque expected the Republican candidate for supervisor of elections, Shirley Anderson, to follow the county trend.
Trinque said Anderson would have won if not for Guadagnino. He took nearly 15 percent of the vote. But Jay Rowden, who heads the Democratic Executive Committee, didn't see the race in the same way.
Guadagnino, who was previously a Republican, campaigned and worked hard to win votes, Rowden said. He argued that there is no way to know whether the people who voted for Guadagnino wouldn't have instead supported Williams.
"I really don't think Gus was the spoiler,'' Rowden said.
Williams expressed a similar sentiment. Those votes "could have gone either way," she said.
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The county's election canvassing board is still reviewing outstanding provisional ballots.
A total of 141 provisionals were completed on Election Day. So far, elections officials reviewed only 10 and counted three. The seven others didn't meet legal sufficiency.
The 131 provisionals remaining will get finalized in the next 10 days before the results are certified, Williams said.
John Frank can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 754-6114.