Winners and losers of 2018 in Florida politics

Voters wait to go inside The Coliseum to vote on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. (EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times)
Voters wait to go inside The Coliseum to vote on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. (EVE EDELHEIT | Times)
Published Nov. 11, 2018|Updated Nov. 12, 2018

Just because we don't yet know for sure the outcome of some of Florida's marquee races doesn't mean we should shirk our post-election winners and losers list. Mostly winners:

Winner: Ron DeSantis. It's not (yet) official, but at the very least he virtually tied (30k votes up) in the governor's race and proved many, many doubters wrong.

Winner: Casey DeSantis: If only Ron's wife could loan him some of her warmth and charm.

Winner: Jeanette Nunez. DeSantis' running mate clearly brought a lot to the the ticket, not just helping soften the nominee but drawing critical votes. DeSantis-Nunez won several thousand more votes than Scott in her home county of Miami-Dade. And DeSantis, a virtual Trump Mini Me, lost the county by about 21 percent to Gillum-King, compared to Trump two years ago losing it by 30.

TBA Winner/Loser: Rick Scott/Bill Nelson

Loser: Pollsters. So much for that relativel comortable win for Andrew Gillum virtually all of them predicted.

Winner Kionne McGhee: Overlooked amid the recount insansity was how successful the Democrats were in their Florida House campaign. Incoming Minority Leader McGhee and his top campaign adviser Reggie Cardozo helped net six additional House seats and have a good shot at gaining two more in recounts. With at least 47 members in the 120 body, Democrats will hold more seats than any time since 1998, and it is not so hard to envision a majority with a few more successful election cycles.

Winner: Andrew Gillum. The Tallahassee Mayor most likely fell short in the governor's race, but he still emerged as a nationally recognized political star. It took Jeb Bush two times, so…

Winner: Gwen Graham: She barely lost the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to Gillum and now across Florida, politicos are whispering that she would have won by more than a recount margin and, at the very least, would have brought far more to the ticket than Chis King.

Winner: Susie Wiles: The Republican consultant from northeast Florida joined the DeSantis campaign after his rocky start. Bringing in several other veteran operatives,she righted the ship with her his calm, no BS professionalism. After leading Rick Scott, Donald Trump, and now (it seems) DeSantis to victory in Florida, she solidified her standing Florida's top political strategist. Leading Rick Scott.

Winner: Brian Ballard. Wiles' lobbying partner did it again. The uber lobbyist/fundraiser has an uncanny knack for backing the wrong candidate He backed a losing horse in a GOP primary and then quickly becoming one of the winner's most trusted advisers and rainmakers. He did it with Rick Scott and Donald Trump too, and the Ballard Partners lobbying shop now is tighter with the (most likely) governor-elect than any other firm.

Loser: Greyhound tracks. Dog racing will go be a thing of the past in a few years. Consider adopting a greyhound.

Winner: Donald Trump. Without POTUS throwing himself into revving up the GOP base with two final-week rallies in Florida, Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum would likely be celebrating today rather than hiring recount lawyers.

Winner: Bill Galvano. The incoming Florida Senate president may have played as big or bigger role in Republican success up an down the ballot than even President Trump. Below the radar, Galvano's campaign operation paid for more the 500 organizers across the state to mobilize voters and knocked on more than 770,000 doors. Galvano and other senators raised an extraordinary $44 million, with a giant assist from and tireless fundraiser Nancy Texeira of St. Petersburg.

Winner: Carlos Beruff. The Consitution Commission Chairman was widely criticized for leading a partisan and underhanded process for updated Florida's consitution, but in the end all but one of the proposals passed.

Winner: Janet Cruz. The Tampa Democrat (most likely) withstood the the Galvano machine and unseated Republican incumbent Dana Young.

Winner: Local government. The one Amendment proposal that cost local governments millions in revenue. What's more, voters across the state, including Hillsborough, approved ballot initiatives -the better fund schools and transportation.

Winner: Tyler Hudson. Keep an eye on the chairman of the successful All for Transortation initiative in Hillsborough, because he is poised to emerge as one of Tampa Bay's top prospects for elected office.

Winner: The Everglades Trust. The Everglades advocacy group outraged other environmental groups for endorsing Ron DeSantis for governor, but now it (most likely) will have a grateful advocate in the governor's office.

Winner: Nikki Fried. Unlike the other Democrats running for statewide Cabinet positions, Fried has a good shot to serve as Florida new commissioner of marjuana – er, commissioner of agriculture.

Winner: Matt Gaetz. The north Florida congressman addicted to publicity and provocative and/or offensive statements emerged as one of DeSantis' most trustedadvisers.

BIGGEST WINNER: Election lawyers. Ca-ching. Multiple Florida recounts should ensure some generous holiday gift-giving for the lawyers fanning out across the state.

BIGGEST LOSER: Brenda Snipes. Finally, we have bi-partisan consensus about something after this divisive election season: Broward County's elections chief is a disaster. Runner up: Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher.