Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers, Election 2022 edition

Now that the ballot dust has settled, who’s up and who’s down in the Sunshine State?

City & State

“Demise of the Dems?” we asked on the cover of last week’s magazine. Well, the votes are in, and the question has been answered with a resounding “yes.” All the available evidence – the governor’s landslide victory, an easy win in a U.S. Senate contest that once seemed competitive, a sweep of the state’s Cabinet posts, supermajorities secured in both chambers of the Legislature – leads to one conclusion: Florida is a swing state no more. Read on for more on the biggest Winners & Losers this week, including some of the under-the-radar operatives who led the Florida GOP to its zenith.

WINNERS:

Ron DeSantis -

To paraphrase Dean Martin, it’s Ron’s world now, we just live in it. With his nearly 20-point landslide victory over Democrat Charlie Crist for a second term, Gov. Ron DeSantis has cemented his place as an American Caesar. He will ride into the upcoming 2023 legislative session with unprecedented power to press his conservative agenda. And with supporters yelling “Two more years!” during his victory speech, we all know where this movement is headed. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, anyone?

Rich Heffley, David Johnson & Marc Reichelderfer -

These éminences grises of Republican political consulting started out when Florida Democrats were still in the strong majority in the Capitol and elsewhere. Their job: Make the Republican Party relevant. Thirty years later, they’re still working and here to watch the Democrats implode. Reichelderfer, for instance, won all his races Tuesday night, including clients Laurel Lee, Jim Mooney, and Lauren Melo. It’s good to be the king(s).

Marco Rubio -

It was a great night for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. The Republican’s win over Democrat Val Demings “keeps him in contention for a possible 2024 presidential bid while also giving him a pathway for a major role in the Senate if Republicans regain control following the midterms,” Politico reported. Rubio already is vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It’s hard to think the Miami-Dade native would want to get back into the White House ring, but stranger things have happened. 

Joel Springer -

Give the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee credit for looking down the road, before talk of a “red wave,” and deciding to target the three state Senate seats they picked off Tuesday night. Wins by Corey Simon, Jay Collins (who both beat Democratic incumbents) and others helped propel the GOP into the supermajority zone. The committee, led by incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and executive director Joel Springer, is on top of the world.

James Uthmeier -

Good politics often starts with the right policy, and DeSantis Chief of Staff James Uthmeier was the lead architect of the governor’s conservative agenda. Labeling Disney and other corporations as “crony capitalism”? That was his. “Florida is where woke goes to die”? His too. And then he helped execute the program “seamlessly,” one insider tells City & State, making Uthmeier “the most consequential chief of staff we’ve seen in a long time.”

LOSERS:

Lauren Book & Fentrice Driskell -

Sen. Lauren Book and Rep. Fentrice Driskell do get to lead their respective chamber’s Democratic caucuses, but they’ll go back to work in Tallahassee under the thumb of newly minted supermajorities that may only be even more eager to ram through the agenda of Gov. Ron DeSantis. If there’s any silver lining, it may be that Democrats have hit rock bottom – and these two rising stars in the party will have a chance to try to turn things around. 

Manny Diaz -

The chair of the Florida Democratic Party presided over an epic drubbing Tuesday night. That was after an unforced error in a local politics contretemps. In what seen as poor form, Manny Diaz endorsed incumbent Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, while the Leon County Democratic Party backed progressive County Commissioner Kristin Dozier. The lack of same-page’ism was awkward – and a microcosm of the shitshow that unfolded Tuesday night. Diaz will likely disappear into the background, leaving the state party like the Washington Generals falling apart against the Globetrotters.

Annette Taddeo -

It was perhaps the most watched race for Congress in Florida, and Democrat Annette Taddeo – a now outgoing state senator – still lost. This one was supposed to be close, they said. Turns out it wasn’t: incumbent U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar walloped her by nearly 15 points for this South Florida’s 27th Congressional District. What didn’t help: Miami-Dade County turning red. Taddeo ran for governor before switching to this race. And she was Crist’s running mate in 2014. Don’t expect her to sit still for long.

Donald Trump -

Florida is Donald Trump’s home base now. He’s telegraphed that he’s going to announce a run for president in 2024 right here in the Sunshine State. But on Tuesday night, he had to watch his main rival steal the spotlight by getting reelected governor by a historic electoral margin. His nickname “DeSanctimonious” was quickly eclipsed by the New York Post’s front page moniker: “DeFuture.” And the red wave he said he’d ride across the country? Wipeout.

Susie Wiles -

Trump World’s main political adviser shepherded a lot of endorsements for the ex-president that did not pan out. Take the U.S. Senate. Please. Dr. Oz lost in Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker in Georgia is stumbling into a runoff. They’re just a couple of what turned out to be questionable picks. As Axios put it, “if his candidates consistently underperform other Republicans it could threaten to hamper plans for a political comeback.” Someone polish her crystal ball.

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