Today we're looking back at this week's elections — the winners and losers, the game-changing moments and some details you may not know about the folks you just elected.
Losers: Dean Cannon and Mike Haridopolos. No, they didn't get bounced from office. (Heck, most of these legislative districts are drawn so safely that incumbents could get caught stoned, naked and stealing swans from Lake Eola and still cruise to re-election.) Instead, these two guys put their reputations on the line to fight the fair-districting amendments … and got beaten like a bass drum. You know why? Because their defense of gerrymandering was transparent and lame. And 62 percent of voters knew it.
GOP Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart filed a federal lawsuit, trying to overturn the voters' will. Nothing unites politicians like protecting their own rear ends.
Winner: Walt Disney World. You might not think Mickey could deliver a fatal blow, what with his soft-gloved, four-fingered hands and all. But when Disney backed Teresa Jacobs in the race for Orange County mayor, it was too much for Bill Segal's already struggling campaign to bear. You can't very well claim you're the business-backed candidate when the biggest business in town just backed someone else.
Winner: Deep-pocketed outsiders. Our airwaves were filled with nasty ads — many of them funded by outside groups whose identity you knew little about. Both sides did it. But an Orlando Sentinel analysis showed that conservative groups such as Karl Rove's American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dwarfed spending by liberal groups such as the National Education Association by a 5-1 margin. And since most of those business-backed candidates won, expect lots of those outsider nasty-grams next time as well.
Sometimes I'm really right. Like with Sandy Adams. More than a year ago, I wrote that Adams was probably the Republican most capable of ousting Democrat Suzanne Kosmas. But if you remember, the D.C. Republicans tried their best to mess that up. They were trashing Adams and trying to recruit everyone from little-known city officials to ESPN's Lou Holtz. Adams, however, stuck to her guns. Now she's going to Washington, owing little to the party hacks.
Sometimes I'm really wrong. Like with Rick Scott. Early this year, I scoffed at readers who asked me if Scott had any chance of winning. I mistakenly thought the fact that he ran a company that stole from taxpayers would be an impediment. In fact, on May 6, when a worried supporter of Bill McCollum came calling, I wrote: " ...if Scott gains any traction, his competitors shouldn't have to do much more than point to his track record to effectively wipe out his chances." Not.
What's the common link? 1) Less money for public schools. 2) More drilling off Florida's coast. 3) A ban on gay adoptions. These are all things most Floridians oppose — and things supported by the man they just elected governor.
Soiling God's name. Did you know that the Christian Coalition tried to con its followers into opposing fair districts, too? As if God is a big proponent of gerrymandering. (You remember the scripture, right? "For God so loved John Mica, he gave him a 100-mile-long district without too many liberals.") It's one thing to mount a lame defense of a corrupt system. It's another to drag God's name into it.
Voters paid attention. At least, when it comes to constitutional amendments. Politicians who fear the grass-roots power of the people sometimes try to argue that citizens are too stupid to cast informed votes on complicated issues. Tuesday's results said otherwise, since voters passed only three of six amendments and by wildly different margins. I'm always amused by politicians who think you're too stupid to cast informed votes, except when you vote them into office.
What can you buy with $73 million? The governor's mansion, obviously. Rick Scott proved as much by digging into his own deep pockets to shatter all kinds of spending records. But to put the amount in perspective, $73 million could also buy 330 of the region's median-priced homes, school supplies for 102,000 middle-school students and one space shuttle (used price: $28 million).
For more winners and losers -- including some losers listed above who won in other ways -- and to add your own candidates to the list, check out orlandosentinel.com/takingnames.
Scott Maxwell can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-6141.
What's fair about districts? Voters paid attention
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