2018 Elections Yet Another Wild, Lengthy Ride for Florida

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TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 22: Voting booths are setup at the Yuengling center on the campus of University of South Florida as workers prepare to open the doors to early voters on October 22, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. Florida voters head to the polls to cast their early ballots in the race for the Senate as well as the Governors seats. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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In the battle to be the Republican nominee for Governor, a little known U.S. Representative from the Jacksonville area was able to score the first upset of the season. Ron DeSantis, who was able to score the endorsement of President Donald Trump, got a convincing win over Adam Putnam – who had served eight years as the state’s Agriculture Commissioner following years as a member of Congress.
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Meanwhile, the Democratic Party had their own primary surprise when Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum – arguably the most liberal person in the five candidate field who was endorsed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders – came out on top over a field that included former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Gwen Graham, a former member of Congress and the daughter of former Gov. and U.S. Senator Bob Graham.
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The race for the U.S. Senate saw three term Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson face off against Governor Rick Scott, who could not seek re-election due to term limits. The costly contest saw Scott criticize Nelson’s voting record and age while Nelson continued to target Scott’s involvement with a former health care giant that was fined by the federal government.
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DeSantis and Gillum, meanwhile, faced off in several heated debates that aired across the state. The two candidates clashed over issues involving education, the environment and more – with DeSantis bringing up an ongoing FBI investigation involving former members of Gillum’s team while Gillum criticized DeSantis for not doing more to help prevent racist robocalls received by voters across the state.
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Once November 6th rolled around, Florida knew they were going to be in for a tight race – with both Scott and DeSantis claiming victory after each winning their races by less than one percent. While Gillum initially offered a concession, Nelson never did and the stage was set for more Sunshine State fun.
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With state law requiring a machine recount for any election where the difference is under half a percent, three races – Governor, Senate and Agriculture Commissioner – began the process. It was a time where lawsuits and misplaced ballots plagued counties across the state, but no other places were in the spotlight more than Broward County – where elections supervisor Dr. Brenda Snipes was criticized by members of both parties for her handling of the process – and Palm Beach County, where officials said they would not meet the deadlines due to equipment issues.
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While the race for Governor never went below the quarter of a percent mandate for a hand recount – thus making DeSantis the winner – the other two races had to wait until Sunday, with Scott edging out Nelson by just over 10,000 votes and Democrat Nikki Fried winning the race for Agriculture Commissioner over Matt Caldwell after initially trailing on Election Night.
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After the final numbers were submitted, Snipes announced she was resigning from her position effective in January. In more than 15 years on the job, she turned around the department that had been riddled with issues before Snipes was appointed by then Gov. Jeb Bush in 2003 – but was constantly in the spotlight for issues that came into play during recent elections.
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