Saturday, May 26, 2018
Politics

Most incumbent Florida legislators survive challenges

Incumbents escaped nearly unscathed in Florida's legislative races Tuesday, although state Rep. Chris Dorworth, slated to become House speaker in two years, was in the fight of his political life.

A Lake Mary Republican haunted by personal and financial issues, Dorworth trailed Democratic challenger Mike Clelland. With nearly 80 percent of the vote counted, Clelland clung to a small lead.

Incumbents led in virtually all other legislative races.

Democrats had hoped to pick up the needed seats to slow down what has been a runaway GOP Legislature in recent years. Republicans went into the election controlling the Senate by a 28-12 margin and had 81 of the 120 seats in the House of Representatives.

Democrats would remain procedurally powerless if the GOP retained its two-third advantages in both legislative bodies.

Former Democratic House Speaker Tom Gustafson from Fort Lauderdale fell short in his bid for a return to the Capitol after an absence of 22 years.

Gustafson, who served as speaker in 1989-90, trailed first-term Republican Rep. Bill Hager of Boca Raton with 95 percent of the vote counted. Hager had received 52.4 percent of the vote to Gustafson's 47.6 percent.

Democrat Maria Sachs led Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff in a matchup of incumbents forced into a showdown in a redrawn district in Broward County. With 89 percent of the vote counted, Sachs had received 53.1 percent Bogdanoff 46.9 percent.

Former state Rep. Aaron Bean, a Republican, defeated Democrat Nancy Soderberg, who served in the Clinton administration and was an ambassador to the United Nations. With 96 percent of the vote counted, Bean had 62.3 percent to Soderberg's 37.7 percent.

Ten of Florida's 40-seat Senate and 45 of the 120 House seats were settled before Election Day.

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