Democrat Margaret Good defeated Republican James Buchanan in Tuesday's special election for state representative in Florida’s 72nd District, sending another Democrat to the House in a seat that had been occupied by a Republican.
With all precincts reporting, according to the state Division of Elections website, Good claimed nearly 52.2 percent of the vote. Republican James Buchanan, meanwhile, son of GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan, came away with 44.8 percent and Libertarian Alison Foxall, 3 percent.
In a race watched closely by both national parties, Democrats are touting it as their 36th legislative flip since the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Good's campaign got a major shot in the arm from the national Democratic push on her behalf, allowing her to raise more money than Buchanan. From Jan. 5 through Feb. 8, she pulled in $257,074 to Buchanan's $70,690. Her overall total was $484,388; the Republican's, $353,320.
From the start, Good, an attorney, called her campaign "a win for our schools, our small businesses and our environment." She has said, as a member of the Legislature, she will be an advocate for increased access to health care, an end to corporate welfare, and expanded opportunities for every single person in Sarasota.
“I want to thank everyone who supported this campaign. It would not have been possible without the thousands of individuals, who like me, have had enough of the divisiveness that permeates Tallahassee and gave of their time, money and talent.
"This election is over. With the legislative session nearing its end, I understand the clear mandate provided by voters tonight to bring Sarasota values to Tallahassee starting tomorrow,” said Good.
The seat opened up last year when Republican Alex Miller resigned from the Legislature for family and business reasons.
The win came as something of a surprise to many. The 72nd is considered a swing district, although Republicans outnumber Democrats by some 13,000 voters. During the 2016 presidential election, Trump won there by just 5 points.
The Democratic party, bullish on gaining momentum before the 2018 midterm elections, set its sights on the Sarasota district as another opportunity to flip a legislative seat nationwide.
Local polling gave Good a 3-point lead just days before the election, but that wasn't counting voters who already had cast ballots.
“The voters have spoken. People in District 72 want leaders who listen and act boldly to better our community," Good concluded. "I will be accessible, transparent, and fully committed to this community that has provided me and my family so much. I am honored to serve and will work every day for every one of us."
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith