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GOP incumbent Vern Buchanan wins Florida’s 16th District

Veteran GOP congressman defeats Democrat Margaret Good for the seat that includes Manatee County and parts of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties.
Republican Vern Buchanan was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006.
Republican Vern Buchanan was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006.
Published Nov. 4, 2020|Updated Nov. 4, 2020

TAMPA — Republican incumbent Vern Buchanan beat Democratic challenger Margaret Good in the race for Florida’s 16th Congressional District, a seat Democrats had targeted as one they had an outside chance of winning.

Buchanan lead with 55 percent of the vote late Tuesday after a count of early voting, partial mail ballots and a majority of precincts, preliminary results show. He was ahead in all three counties that make up the district with his strongest showing coming in Manatee, where he notched almost 60 percent of the vote.

“I’m honored to be the people’s voice in Congress for another two years,” Buchanan said in a statement, adding that he will “continue fighting to protect Medicare, Social Security, veteran’s benefits and the Suncoast environment.”

Buchanan won despite the his seat being selected for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue, an effort to increase the Democrats' majority in the U.S. House of Representatives by raising donations for “top-tier candidates.”

The Sarasota businessman, who is ranked as one of the wealthiest members of Congress, was first elected to the House of Representatives for the 13th Congressional District in 2006. He has risen in seniority and serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

His campaign touted his record in Congress and his résumé as a successful businessman. In addition to owning several car dealerships, he owns a sizable bond portfolio, rental properties along the west coast of Florida and real estate investments in Aspen, Colo. A 2019 USA Today analysis listed his net worth at $74 million.

During the campaign’s one face-to-face debate, Buchanan, 69, highlighted his success at obtaining funding for his district, including $27 million for a national cemetery for veterans and $8 million to tackle a red-tide outbreak.

He disputed criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus and said he is working to keep vulnerable seniors safe through telemedicine and free vaccines, once one is available.

Good, an attorney with the Sarasota law firm Eastmoore, Crauwels & DuBose, was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018 when she defeated Buchanan’s son, James Buchanan, in a special election for a Republican-leaning state House district.

Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good of Sarasota believes she can unseat six-term GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan in 2020. [Photo courtesy of Margaret Good]
Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good of Sarasota believes she can unseat six-term GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan in 2020. [Photo courtesy of Margaret Good]

Her 2020 campaign focused on what she called the GOP’s failure to provide enough help to families hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus. In particular, she blasted Buchanan for obtaining as much as $7 million in federal bailout payments for his businesses while voting to deny increased benefits for people who lost their jobs.

Good, 44, also pilloried her opponent for his voting record, in particular votes to scrap the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and to cut funding to Social Security.

About 40 percent of the district’s registered voters are Republicans, compared to 33 percent Democrats. The district is comprised of parts of Sarasota, all of Manatee County and stretches north to Hillsborough to include Sun City Center and parts of Fish Hawk, Gibsonton and Riverview. Hillsborough voters make up about one quarter of the district’s electorate.

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