This complaint really only applies for our state offices: the Governor, Cabinet and Legislature. For more than a decade, all of these state offices have been dominated by Republican politicians. Yet, a supposed discontent with the status quo was directed to punish Democrats running for these offices. I can't really blame Republicans for winning. But Democrats should never have let this narrative take form, much less hold through election day.
I noted more than a month ago that it was insane that Republicans could promise on bringing change to the governor's mansion. With Rick Scott's election, we have guaranteed GOP control of our state's top office for a 16-year run. As for the Cabinet, Alex Sink was the only member who was a Democrat. And four years prior to her election in 2006, no Democrat was on that board. Come January, that will be the situation again.
As for the Florida Legislature, enormous GOP caucuses got bigger. The Division of Elections says the state Senate will have a 28-12 Republican-Democrat split. The state House will be 81-39. That means Democrats in either chamber will be outnumbered more than 2-to-1. And people say Rick Scott won't be able to push a far-right agenda. I think he will be able to do whatever he wants.
I don't really want to beat up on the candidates too much. I think Sink really did run an outstanding campaign this year, and the final margin of defeat was less than 62,000 votes. We had good candidates for the Cabinet, particularly with Dan Gelber seeking the Attorney General post.
But in the end, it seemed as if no campaign could break through a general noise. An election cycle which started as being discontent with the party in power became all about voting Republican to really show those guys in D.C. But our state officials aren't going to D.C. Florida Republicans have controlled Tallahassee for more than a decade, and their power was only expanded on Nov. 2. That is not just a disconnect. That is voters intent on punishing the party in power doing exactly the opposite of what they intended to do.
Florida has been hit especially hard by the recession, in part because lawmakers and state leaders have created policies which suck our tax coffers in order to give people an enormous number of tax exemptions, underfunded education to the point where our students are graduating without a very diverse skillset but able to bubble the hell out of a Scantron, and created growth management policies which encouraged construction of more homes than Realtors could sell before the bubble burst.
This year, we saw the leadership of the Republican Party of Florida audited and indicted. We had an oil rig explosion damage our tourism-based economy while Republicans were apologizing to BP for shakedowns. The GOP managed to nominate a gubernatorial nominee with a record fraud fine on his resume, a black guy who hangs with racist motorcycle gangs, a Senate candidate who had a home foreclosure with another Congressional candidate, and an attorney general candidate who used her position as a prosecutor to allegedly steal a dog.
And they won.
This is just embarrassing. We cannot allow the other side to control the narrative to this point. The Florida GOP controls all the pursestrings here. They are the status quo. And yet, when the going got tough, they told the voters the handful of Democrats in Tallahassee were to blame, and voters bought it. I have to give begrudging respect to the other side on that one. But the consequences are too great for us to let that happen again. While we lick out wounds, Rick Scott is putting together a transition team. And that just hurts.