Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The 'Fasano effect' credited for Democrat victory

Democrat Amanda Murphy thanks her supporters Tuesday  moments after polls indicated that she had defeated Republican Bill Gunter in the House District 36 race in Pasco County.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Democrat Amanda Murphy thanks her supporters Tuesday moments after polls indicated that she had defeated Republican Bill Gunter in the House District 36 race in Pasco County.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Democrat Amanda Murphy's win in Tuesday's special election surprised some, but more eyebrows were raised by the fact she won despite better Republican turnout.

"That tells me one thing," former state Rep. Mike Fasano said. "That Republicans crossed party lines to vote for Amanda, and she got more independent votes."

That's surprising considering Murphy's opponent, Republican Bill Gunter, raised nearly three times as much in campaign contributions and racked up endorsements from top Republican leaders such as state House Speaker Will Weatherford, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

But as the sun set on Tuesday's House District 36 race and the votes were tallied, Murphy never yielded ground — even though unofficial returns showed more Republicans at the polls than Democrats and more Republicans voting absentee.

Murphy led in absentee and early voting, and after all the ballots were counted held a 305-vote lead, sealing her victory.

Some election watchers blamed "the Fasano effect."

Fasano triggered the special election when he resigned from the district in August to become Pasco's tax collector. After vowing to stay neutral in the race, he revealed he voted absentee for Murphy and urged others to back her as well. Then he formally endorsed her in a television appearance Friday.

"It had to help. Mike Fasano is extremely well-liked," James Mathieu, chair of Pasco's Republicans, said. "It resonates with voters that Mike Fasano is for the little guy, as he would put it."

Telephone polls by Republicans asking about Fasano's endorsement confirmed it mattered who he would support, Republican Committeeman Bill Bunting said.

"I think there's no question he had a large influence," he said.

Count Christy Falke, 60, a registered independent, among those swayed by Fasano.

"We've always been big supporters of (Fasano)," she said. "He is a man that stands behind what he says. Her and Mike Fasano together with their visions, I think that is something that our area needs."

Also helping was that Murphy showed up at Falke's Bayonet Point neighborhood stumping for votes. "She's personable," she said. "She even came to my door."

Lynn Lindeman, Democratic Party chair in Pasco, offered a different take on Murphy's win.

Deserved or not, voters perceived Gunter as tied to politics-as-usual in Tallahassee, Lindeman said.

"You can't buy elections if people aren't satisfied with you as a candidate, with what you represent," he said. "We had a large number of independent voters and a large number of Republicans that crossed over."

Democrats hammered home the theme in scores of ads targeting Gunter's campaign contributions from Tallahassee.

Democrats also benefitted by calling voters who voted absentee and early in the last election to back Murphy in this election. After all the votes were counted, Murphy's 336-vote margin in absentee and early voting put her over the top.

Staff Writer Alex Orlando contributed to this story. Rich Shopes can be reached at rshopes@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

By the numbers

Here is the unofficial voter turnout for Tuesday's special election:

Total voters: 18,920

Republicans: 8,821

Democrats: 7,049

Other: 3,050

Election Day voters: 7,953

Republicans: 4,051

Democrats: 2,626

Others: 1,276

Absentee voters: 9,526

Republicans: 4,249

Democrats: 3,750

Other: 1,527

Early voters: 1,441

Republicans: 521

Democrats: 673

Others: 247

*Other includes independents and minor party voters.

The 'Fasano effect' credited for Democrat victory 10/16/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 9:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. East Tampa store owner who survived one shooting is targeted again with fatal results

    Crime

    TAMPA — In the 2011 video, Mahamoud Ibrahim stands behind the counter of his tiny East Tampa convenience store, his back to the surveillance camera meant to discourage thieves.

    A memorial has sprouted in front of the 29th Street Store in East Tampa, where a robber fatally shot owner Mohamoud Ibrahim on July 16. Security experts say small mom-and-pop stores in high crime areas are easy targets for robberies and typically don't have the budgets for extra security measures. [TONY MARRERO/Times Staff]
  2. Pinellas superintendent, School Board pen letter to legislative delegation for help against 'unjust' funds for charter schools

    Blogs

    Because of a recent change in state law, the Pinellas County school district will have to shell out $25 million over five years  -- more funding per student than any other large district in the state -- for charter school construction and maintenance projects, and district officials …

    Pinellas County School Board Superintendent Michael Grego during a School Board meeting on August 25, 2015 at the School Administration Building, 301 Fourth Street SW in Largo.
  3. AARP still waiting for the two Ricks to send voter education videos

    Blogs

    AARP Florida wants to educate St. Petersburg residents on Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker’s views on how to make the Sunshine City more livable.

    It's been a frenetic St. Pete mayor's race so far. Maybe that's the reason AARP hasn't received voter education videos from the campaigns
  4. Photos: Kehlani packs fans into a sold-out Orpheum in Tampa

    Blogs

    R&B singer Kehlani had to postpone a spring show in Tampa due to illness, but it seemed she was no worse for the wear on Thursday, when her make-up show sold out the Orpheum well in advance. Ella Mai and Jahkoy opened the show. Aubrey Wipfli was there snapping photos; click the headline …

    Kehlani performed at the Orpheum in Tampa on July 20, 2017.
  5. Rowdies part of a record-setting season for USL attendance

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Although Rowdies fans haven't had many recent opportunities to show out at Al Lang, the United Soccer League turnstiles keep turning at a record rate.

    A Rowdies fan waves flags ahead of the first half of the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, March 25, 2017.