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Scott not first Florida governor to squeak to victory

Gov. Sidney J. Catts gives his inaugural address in January 1917. Until now, Catts was the only Florida governor elected with less than 50% support.

Photo courtesy of the Florida Memory Project

Gov. Sidney J. Catts gives his inaugural address in January 1917. Until now, Catts was the only Florida governor elected with less than 50% support.

Before Rick Scott was declared Florida's next governor, Sidney Johnson Catts was the only governor in state history elected with less than 50 percent support, according to the Florida Handbook. In 1916, Catts was the outsider who infuriated leaders in the state's dominant political party when he challenged their choice in the primary. Remind you of anyone else? Catts capitalized on anti-black and anti-Catholic sentiments among the state's Protestant fundamentalists, according to Michael Gannon's book, The New History of Florida. Dubbed the "Cracker Messiah" in a 1977 biography, Catts actually lost the Democratic primary. But the Baptist preacher and part-time insurance salesman rode the Prohibition Party's endorsement to a general election victory in what Gannon calls "perhaps the wildest campaign in Florida's history." (Catts won by 11.1 percentage points.)

Scott also has the honor of winning the closest governor's race since 1876. A look at other squeakers:

0.4 points, 1876: George Drew (D) d. Marcellus Stearns (R)

1.3 points*, 2010: Rick Scott (R) d. Alex Sink (D)

1.6 points, 1994: Lawton Chiles (D) d. Jeb Bush (R)

2.6 points, 1856: Madison Perry (D) d. David Walker (American)

3.2 points, 1852: James Broome (D) d. George Ward (Whig)

4.8 points, 1872: Ossian B. Hart (R) d. William Bloxham (D)

(*Unofficial results)

Republican leaders ready to override Crist

Florida's Republican legislative leaders, fresh off winning veto-proof new margins in the House and Senate, plan to announce a one-day special session Nov. 16 to override a couple of Gov. Charlie Crist's vetoes. Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon will hold a news conference in Tallahassee on Thursday to announce their plans to use the day devoted to swearing in new members and overriding a handful of vetoes from Crist. Among them is Crist's controversial decision to veto from the budget a $9.7 million line item intended to help Shands teaching hospital. The Republican sweep that consumed the nation left only 51 Democrats in the Florida Legislature. The Senate now has a 28-12 Republican majority while House Republicans have a margin of 81-39.

Reporting robocalls to your cell phone

Politicians are allowed to make prerecorded calls to your landline — even if you're on a Do-Not-Call list. But the Federal Communications Commission prohibits such "robocalls" to cell phones without permission. If you got them this campaign season and would like to file a complaint, the FCC can issue warning citations and impose fines against companies. You can file your complaint online at complaints.htm. You can also file your complaint with the FCC's Consumer Center by e-mailing; calling toll-free 1-888-225-5322 voice or 1-888-835-5322 TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries & Complaints Division, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, DC 20554. You can also contact the Florida Attorney General's office or consumer protection agency with complaints or to encourage a state lawsuit against a violator. Read more about what to include in your complaint at

Times/Herald staff writers Michael C. Bender, Mary Ellen Klas, Becky Bowers and Lee Logan contributed to this report.


Florida voter turnout as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, when votes were still being counted, an increase over the 46.8 percent turnout in 2006.

Scott not first Florida governor to squeak to victory 11/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 11:27pm]
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