Gov. Ron DeSantis was flying high this week – in more ways than one. First, his latest ad portraying him as Tom Cruise’s Maverick in “Top Gun” (DeSantis’ ad was titled “Top Gov,” get it?) earned plenty of free media. Then 19 of the 30 local school board candidates he endorsed won seats this election, with six more in the running. Yes, there were some sour grapes, including those who compared the ad to Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis’ ill-fated ride in a tank in 1988. But the gov is still a winner in City & State’s eyes. Now, check out the rest of this week’s expanded post-primary Winners & Losers list.
Lauren Book -
The Democratic Senate leader has her first victory against an actual challenger on the books after she bested former Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief by over 20 points in state Senate District 35. The matchup was one of the most closely watched – and most negative – of the primary season, but Lauren Book’s win turns the page on an important chapter in her accomplished resume, which could be used to bolster future runs for even higher offices.
Ron DeSantis -
The Republican Party’s second biggest name expanded his scope of influence to yet another level of government with a series of major school board wins across the state. Nineteen of the 30 candidates he supported won outright, with six more headed to a runoff. With legislation like the “Stop WOKE” Act and the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill relying heavily on school board implementation, Republicans now have more say in carrying those things out thanks in part to the governor.If DeSantis is Maverick, maybe Maxwell Alejandro Frost is Iceman? He certainly froze out his Democratic rivals in Orlando’s deep blue 10th Congressional District. Poised to become the first Gen Z member of Congress, the 25-year-old former national organizing director of March for Our Lives iced a trio of more experienced – and perhaps not so cool – candidates in state Sen. Randolph Bracy and former U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown. The national media attention Frost is enjoying could help him build a national profile as another young, progressive icon.
Maxwell Alejandro Frost -
If DeSantis is Maverick, maybe Maxwell Alejandro Frost is Iceman? He certainly froze out his Democratic rivals in Orlando’s deep blue 10th Congressional District. Poised to become the first Gen Z member of Congress, the 25-year-old former national organizing director of March for Our Lives iced a trio of more experienced – and perhaps not so cool – candidates in state Sen. Randolph Bracy and former U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown. The national media attention Frost is enjoying could help him build a national profile as another young, progressive icon.
Laurel Lee, Anna Paulina Luna & Cory Mills -
This GOP trio won their respective primaries for congressional seats this week. Anna Paulina Luna and Cory Mills, both, err, quite right on the political spectrum, captured redrawn districts now held by Democrats (say ‘na na na na, hey, hey, goodbye’ to Charlie Crist and Stephanie Murphy), while Lee won a new district created by redistricting. Speaking of which, they have to thank DeSantis for shouldering a heavily “red” congressional redistricting map through the Legislature this year that paved the way for these wins.
Christian Ulvert -
Christian Ulvert, the owner of South Florida’s EDGE Communications, saw two of his clients win key legislative races: Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book beat back a challenge for her Senate seat from former Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief, and Democratic challenger Ashley Gantt won over Democratic incumbent James Bush III in House District 109. Both were nasty intraparty squabbles that could have frightened off even the most seasoned pro. Not Ulvert.
Michael Binder -
Michael Binder leads the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida, which has a track record of inflating the odds of major Democratic candidates in the state. Remember that poll they did showing Nikki Fried closing the gap with Charlie Crist in the Democratic gubernatorial? “The dynamic has flipped,” people said. “The momentum has changed,” they said. Yeah, not so much.
James Bush & Anthony Sabatini -
The two major party’s main outcasts of the Florida Legislature lost their primary bids, and their colleagues have been celebrating publicly and privately in the days since. State Rep. James Bush was the only Democrat to back the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill and the 15-week abortion ban, and saw elected members of his party back his opponent during the race. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini barely showed up to session, frequently and graphically insulted fellow members of the majority caucus. What is next for them is unknown, but state Rep. Chuck Clemons recommended on Twitter that Sabatini get a job in the food service industry.
Nikki Fried -
#SomethingNew is #SomethingBlue after a hammering loss at the hands of U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist for the Democratic nomination to be governor of Florida. All those tweets, all those hype videos, all those purple T-shirts, now consigned to the dustbin of history. And she had to sit through one of the more excruciating Cabinet meetings the same day as the primary election. What’s next? Will she return to lobbying? Only time – or Kevin Cate – will tell.
Dale Holness -
The Sun-Sentinel put it best: “Cherfilus-McCormick crushed her two political rivals: Dale Holness, a former county commissioner who lost to Cherfilus-McCormick by five votes in a 2021 special election; and Anika Omphroy, a Democrat from Lauderdale Lakes finishing her second term as a state representative.” First, Holness – a former Broward County mayor – loses to Cherfilus-McCormick by five votes, FIVE VOTES, then he loses again. Stop the fight, ref. Oh wait, he did.
Jeanette Nuñez -
During a radio interview last week, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez seemed to have suggested Cubans arriving in Florida illegally should be bused out of the state, which might be consistent with the rhetoric of her boss but inconsistent with historical support for Cuban refugees. She has since clarified her statement, saying Cubans seeking asylum for political reasons from the Communist regime should be protected. That did not keep Florida Democrats from seizing on her statement, showing it was an unwise gaffe that Democrats will try to use to win back some Cuban voters in South Florida.