A few weeks ago, I laid out my predictions for every state House, state Senate, and U.S. House race in Florida. Many of these were decided yesterday in the primary, as some districts are so skewed toward Republicans or Democrats that the general election is a dumb joke. And even where that isn’t the case, a few primaries narrowed down the candidates for November. So let’s take a look at the primary results, see how well I did, see what the biggest surprises were, and start looking at the contests in November.
I went through every primary race for which I made a prediction. Details are below, but all told, I went 62-19. Most of the predictions I got right were easy guesses — one candidate had far more money, or was an incumbent, or whatever reason. In many of the 19 I guessed incorrectly, I went for an upset. Maybe I bet against an incumbent or against the guy with more money, or whatever reason. (Example of that include my incorrect picks for state House in districts 17, 20, 46, 103, and 117.) In other cases, I was on the wrong end of an election that was essentially a coin flip. (As in state House districts 21, 49 and 104.) But in a few cases, the candidate with less money and less name recognition managed to pull off an upset that shocked me.
Here are my top 4 biggest upsets of the Florida primaries, in order from least-shocking to most:
4. In state House district 55, political newcomer Cary Pigman managed to beat former state Rep. Randy Johnson. Johnson may have mad some name recognition in the area, but Pigman raised almost twice as much money and went on to beat Johnson by just 30 votes out of 11,918 cast.
3. In state House district 113, I banked on JDate founder Adam Kravitz’s bank load of money to carry him across the finish line in first place. Kravitz had loaned his campaign $320,000, but had raised only about $20,000 in contributions. Meanwhile, David Richardson loaned his campaign $200,000, but raised a much healthier $185,000. That huge disparity in contributions could explain the victory, as it reveals more support from not only the voters but also the big-time donors.
2. State House district 107 saw a battle of two incumbents, but one of them could only barely be called that. Barbara Watson just won her seat last year in a special election. And even then, she only won after a recount tilted the balance in her favor, robbing Sharon Pritchett of a victory. (Fun fact: Pritchett just won the Democratic primary in district 102 Tuesday and will now probably serve alongside Watson.) John Patrick Julien had served longer, of course, but he also had raised more than $106,000 to Watson’s $34,000 and should have had much better name recognition in this district, which included much of his old one. And yet, Watson won — by 26 out of 10,536 votes cast, but hey, a victory is a victory … unless a recount finds in Julien’s favor, which would be hilariously ironic.
1. In U.S. House district 3, 12-term incumbent Rep. Cliff Stearns lost to a god-damned horse doctor. The congressman had some $2 million to spend on the campaign. Veterinarian Ted Yoho raised $209,414 plus a $50,000 loan. There were two other candidates in the race, state Sen. Steve Oelrich and Clay County Clerk of Courts James Jett. Yoho beat Stearns by 831 votes out of 63,694 votes cast. It’s not enough to simply call this a tea party-style, throw-the-bums out result. Stearns was incredibly conservative and vocal about it. What this says about incumbency in the Republican Party I leave up to you, but it’s one of the most shocking results I’ve ever seen.
Next Monday, I’ll tell you all about the races to watch come November, because there’s quite a few of them, and if things play out right, the Democrats could pick up 3 to 5 seats in the U.S. House from Florida. See you then.
The Primary Predictions
District 2: In the GOP primary, I picked incumbent Clay Ford over newcomer Jeremy Bosso, and Ford won. I’m 1-0.
District 3: In the GOP primary, I picked incumbent Doug Broxson over newcomer Jayer Williamson, and Broxson won. I’m 2-0.
District 5: In the GOP primary, I picked incumbent Marti Coley over newcomer Danny Glidewell, and Coley won. I’m 3-0.
District 7: I picked Halsey Beshears to win the four-way GOP nomination, and he won. However, I picked Robert Hill to be an also-ran in the three-way Democratic race, and Hill won. I’m 4-1.
District 11: In the GOP primary, I picked Janet Adkins over Cord Byrd, and Adkins won. I’m 5-1.
District 17: In the GOP primary, I predicted newcomer Mike Davis would win a three-way race that included incumbent Ronald “Doc” Renuart, as little of the doctor’s old district is included in the new one. I was wrong. Renuart pulled it out. I’m 5-2.
District 20: In the first of two incredible disappointments in Democratic primaries (the other being the re-election of the horrid Daphne Campbell), the Democrats elected oily turncoat Clovis Watson, who makes state Sen. Clay Davis from The Wire look like a god-damned saint. I predicted the Dems wouldn’t be that stupid and would back Marihelen Wheeler, but I was wrong. I’m 5-3.
District 21: I called the Democratic primary here a tossup, but added that with a gun to my head, I’d pick Aaron Bosshardt over Andrew Morey. I was right about the tossup, but wrong about the winner — Morey won by 343 votes out of 12,847 cast. I should give myself credit for this one anyway since I called how close it would be, but I’ll be straight with you. I’m 5-4.
District 24: I predicted Milissa Holland to win the Democratic primary over Doug Courtney, and she did. I’m 6-4.
District 27: I predicted David Santiago over George Trovato in the GOP primary, and Santiago won. I’m 7-4.
District 28: I predicted incumbent Republican Jason “Doctors can’t say ‘gun’” Brodeur would win over John Bush, and I was right. I’m 8-4.
District 29: I predicted incumbent Republican Chris Dorworth would win in his three-way race, and he did. I’m 9-4.
District 36: I called former state Sen. Mike Fasano to win this three-way primary, and he did. I’m 10-4.
District 37: I called Richard Corcoran to win the GOP primary over Strother Hannond. I’m 11-4.
District 41: I predicted John Wood to beat John Lindsey in the GOP primary. I’m 12-4.
District 43: I called Democrat Ricardo Rangel over John Cortes, and Cortes dropped out before election day. I’m 13-4.
District 45: I called the Democratic primary between Randolph Bracy and Shannon Currie to be a tossup, but forced to take a pick, I went with Bracy. And in this case, I made the right call in a tossup race — Bracy won by 559 votes out of 7,467 cast. I’m 14-4.
District 46: I predicted Pam Powell to win the five-way Democratic primary, but she came in second to Bruce Antone. I’m 14-5.
District 49: I predicted Democrat Joe Saunders and Republican Rene Plasencia to win their respective primaries, but I was only right in Saunders’ case. I’m 15-6.
District 53: I called John Alvarez and John Tobia to win their respective primaries and they both did. I’m 17-6.
District 55: Big upset as newcomer Cary Pigman beat former state Rep. Randy Johnson in the GOP primary by just 30 — yes, 30! — votes out of 11,918 cast. That, I did not see coming. I’m 17-7.
District 57: I called Jake Raburn to win the GOP primary over Brian Hollands. I’m 18-7.
District 59: I called Joe Wicker to win a four-way GOP primary here, but he came in second to Ross Spano, with Betty Jo Tompkins in a distant third and Mike Floyd way, way back in fourth. I’m 18-8.
District 61: I called incumbent Democrat Betty Reed to beat Tatiana Denson. I’m 19-8.
District 63: I called Mark Danish to win the Democratic primary. I’m 20-8.
District 65: I predicted incumbent Peter Nehr to win his four-way primary. I’m 21-8.
District 67: I called Ed Hooper to beat Christopher Shepard in the GOP primary. I’m 22-8.
District 68: I called Frank Farkas to beat Daryle Hamel in the GOP primary. I’m 23-8.
District 69: I called Kathleen Peters to win the three-way GOP primary. I’m 24-8.
District 76: I called Ray Rodrigues to win the three-way GOP primary. I’m 25-8.
District 77: I predicted Dane Eagle to beat Chris Berardi in the GOP primary. I’m 26-8.
District 78: I called Heather Fitzenhagen to beat Jonathan Martin in the GOP primary. I’m 27-8.
District 79: I had Matt Caldwell over Jon Larsen Shudlick. I’m 28-8.
District 81: I figured current state Rep. Steve Perman could beat back a challenge from former state Rep. Kevin Rader. I was wrong. I’m 28-9.
District 82: I said that the winner of this five-way GOP race would be either Carl Domino or MaryLynn Magar, and Magar won with Domino in second place, but I’m not giving myself credit unless I actually tried to pick a winner. I’m still 28-9.
District 87: I had Dave Kerner over Mike Rios in the Democratic primary. I’m 29-9.
District 100: I called Democrat Joe Gibbons over Sheldon Lisbon. I’m 30-9.
District 102: I had Democrat Sharon Pritchett over Melvin Bratton. I’m 31-9.
District 103: I had Renier Diaz de la Portilla over Manny Diaz and Alfredo Naredo-Acosta, but Diaz pulled it out. I’m 31-10.
District 104: I said this one is a tossup, but my gun-to-my-head pick was Robin Behrman, who lost to Rick Stark. I’m 31-11.
District 105: I had Republican Carlos Trujillo over Paul Crespo. I’m 32-11.
District 106: I had Kathleen Passidomo over David Bolduc in the GOP primary. I’m 33-11.
District 107: In a major upset, Barbara Watson beat John Patrick Julien in a battle of two Democratic incumbents. Julien had raised far more money and had represented more of the district previously, but Watson beat him by just 26 votes out of 10,536 cast. I’m 33-12.
District 108: I hate to be right in this case, but the execrable Daphne Campbell easily won the Democratic primary. I’m 34-12.
District 109: I called Cynthia Stafford over Bernadine Bush in the Democratic primary. I’m 35-12.
District 110: I had Jose Oliva over Ileana Abay in the GOP primary. I’m 36-12.
District 111: I had Eddy Gonzalez over Maykel Balboa in the GOP primary. I’m 37-12.
District 112: I called Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Jose Javier Rodtiguez in their respective primaries. I’m 39-12.
District 113: I thought JDate founder Adam Kravitz’s ocean of money would win him the race, but David Richardson won the four-way Democratic primary. I’m 39-13.
District 114: Erik Fresen easily won his GOP primary. I’m 40-13.
District 115: Michael Bileca also won a GOP primary easily. I’m 41-13.
District 116: I had Ana Rivas Logan over Jose Felix Diaz in a battle of incumbents in the GOP primary, but Diaz, who raised more money and had more party backing, pulled it out. I’m 41-14.
District 117: I got a little crazy here and went with a major upset in picking Harold Ford to win the three-way Democratic primary, but he lost to Kionne McGhee. I’m 41-15.
District 119: I had incumbent Jeanette Nunez over Libby Perez. I’m 42-15.
District 120: I had Holly Raschein over Morgan McPherson in the GOP primary. I’m 43-15.
District 4: I had Aaron Bean over Mike Weinstein in the GOP primary. I’m 44-15.
District 12: I had Geraldine Thompson over Victoria Siplin in the Democratic primary. I’m 45-15.
District 15: I had Kelli Stargel winning the three-way GOP primary. I’m 46-15.
District 17: As in the 15th, I picked the winner, John Legg, in a three-way GOP primary. I’m 47-15.
District 20: I had Jack Latvala over Zahid Roy in the GOP primary. I’m 48-15.
District 21: I picked Jim Frishe to beat Jeff Brandes in the GOP primary here, but Brandes pulled it out. I’m 48-16.
District 24: I had Tom Lee over Rachel Burgin in the GOP primary. I’m 49-16.
District 27: I picked Jeff Clemens to beat Mack Bernard in the Democratic primary, and I was right but barely. Clemens won by just 35 votes out of 24,245 cast. I’m 50-16.
District 34: I had Ellyn Bogdanoff beating Mike Lameyer. I’m 51-16.
District 39: I called Ron Saunders to win this five-way Democratic primary, given his political base in the Keys, which makes up a lot of the district’s population, but Dwight Bullard pulled it out in the end. I’m 51-17.
District 2: Here, four Democrats were vying for the chance to face incumbent Republican Steve Southerland. I called state Rep. Leonard Bembry, an elected official who had raised more money than any of his three rivals, to come out on top. Instead, the win went to former state Sen. Al Lawson, who ran for Congress in 2010 and lost to Allen Boyd. Bembry came in second, but Lawson won convincingly with more than 50 percent of the vote in a four-way race. I’m 51-18.
District 3: In what is easily the biggest upset in the Florida primaries, 12-term incumbent Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns lost to political novice Ted Yoho, a veterinarian by trade, by a little more than one percentage point. Yoho is almost a holdover candidate from the 2010 tea party wave, a conservative political newcomer toppling an old, entrenched politician. I had Yoho coming in third out of the four candidates, but nobody I’m aware of actually picked the guy to win. I’m 51-19.
District 4: Incumbent Rep. Ander Crenshaw defeated two extremely far-right candidates. Think of politics like a plateau. There’s room for a challenge from the right in today’s tea-drenched Republican Party, but you can’t be so far right that you’re falling off the edge. I’m 52-19.
District 6: In a seven-way race for the Republican nomination, I picked Navy vet Ron DeSantis, and he pulled it out in the end, garnering about 39 percent of the vote, which is pretty convincing with seven candidates in the race. I also said that you should look for DeSantis in a senatorial or gubernatorial race someday. He has the goods to become the Florida GOP’s new golden boy. Also in District 6, Democrat Heather Beaven beat Vipin Verma. Anyone could’ve predicted that, and I really wish I’d mentioned it in my original post, because I could be 3-2 now. Instead, I’m 53-19.
District 7: As in the 6th, I didn’t make a prediction in the Democratic contest, which went to Jason Kendall over Nicholas Ruiz, because this is a very Republican district, so the GOP primary is really all that matters. Here, it was two incumbent congresspeople taking on each other, Sandy Adams vs. John Mica. A lot of national prognosticators predicted this to be a bellwether for the tea party, as Adams was a freshman congresswoman who came in by beating a Democrat in the tea party wave of 2010. Me, I knew this was Mica’s race to lose, and he beat Adams by 22 points. I’m 54-19.
District 13: No surprises here. The longest-serving Republican in the House, Bill Young, won the nomination convincingly, but the general election may be another question. I’m 55-19.
District 14: I picked EJ Otero over Eddie Adams in the Republican primary, and he won, though I expect him to go down to Kathy Castor in the general. I’m 56-19.
District 17: Tom Rooney won easy. This wasn’t difficult to see. I’m 57-19.
District 18: Allen West and Patrick Murphy each won their primaries and will face each other in the general. I’m 59-19.
District 22: I called Lois Frankel over Kristin Jacobs in the Democratic primary here. (That said, this is my district, and I voted Jacobs. Being a Broward resident, I figured I’d go with the Broward County Commissioner over the West Palm Beach mayor. Still, either one’s better than the Republican competition, Adam Hasner.) Frankel won by some 22 points. I’m 60-19.
District 24: I called incumbent Frederica Wilson over Rudy Moise, and she won hands down. I’m 61-19.
District 26: I called Joe Garcia to win the four-way Democratic primary, and he pulled in more than half the vote. I’m 62-19.