Democrat Margaret Good won a special Florida House election in Republican Sarasota County on Tuesday night in a race that drew national attention as the latest indicator of a potential Democratic anti-Donald Trump wave in the 2018 midterm elections.
In state House District 72, where Republicans have a 9-point registration advantage and Trump won in 2016, liberal Good got 52.2 percent to 44.8 percent for Republican James Buchanan, the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key. Libertarian Alison Foxall received 3 percent, according to the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections website.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski campaigned with Buchanan at a Sunday rally that included a chant of “Lock her up!” and a challenge to Republicans to deliver a pro-Trump statement to the “fake news” media, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
“Let me just say this, you guys have an election on Tuesday,” Lewandowski told a crowd of about 200, according to the Herald-Tribune. “The fake news is going to watch you. The failing New York Times wants to write that James Buchanan lost the seat and that Donald Trump cannot carry a candidate anymore. That’s what they want. You cannot allow it.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Florida’s Democratic candidates for governor campaigned for Good and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez issued a celebratory statement less than an hour after the polls closed Tuesday night.
“Congratulations to Representative-elect Margaret Good on her victory tonight’s special election, which flipped yet another Republican-held seat from red to blue in a district that Trump carried in 2016. Just like we did last year with Annette Taddeo, Democrats are organizing, investing, and winning elections across Florida as voters reject Rick Scott and Donald Trump’s disastrous agenda,” Perez said.
Taddeo won a September special election in a Miami Senate district that Republicans had won in 2016. But that election was less troubling for Republicans than Tuesday night’s contest. The district Taddeo won voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump and had been held by a Democrat before 2016.
Good, an attorney, said in a prepared statement that the victory wouldn’t have been possible without the “thousands of individuals, who like me, have had enough of the divisiveness that permeates Tallahassee.”
Drawing support from across the state and nationally, she raised more money than Buchanan. From Jan. 5 through last Thursday, Good raised $257,074, bringing her overall total to $484,388. Buchanan raised $70,690 during the same period, bringing his overall total to $353,320.
Good, who was sworn in in Tallahassee Wednesday, will succeed former Rep. Alex Miller, a Sarasota Republican who resigned from the House last year. Her election comes with little more than three weeks left in the regular legislative session, which is scheduled to end March 9.
The election fills one of four vacant House seats. Also vacant is the state Senate seat formerly held by Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, who resigned last fall after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist. State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, will face Palm Beach County Republican Vice Chairwoman Tami Donnally of Lake Worth on April 10 for the south-central Palm Beach County Senate District 31 seat.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.