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Florida Democrats face a reckoning after Tuesday's elections

Charlie Crist addresses the crowd in St. Petersburg after winning the Democratic nomination for governor in the primary election on Aug. 23, 2022.
Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media
Charlie Crist addresses the crowd in St. Petersburg after winning the Democratic nomination for governor in the primary election on Aug. 23, 2022.

Democratic political candidates saw historic losses in Florida's election Tuesday, leaving big question marks about the future of the state party.

Florida's entire cabinet is now Republican, and unofficial results show the GOP is nearing a two-thirds majority in both the state House and Senate.

Even in heavily blue Hillsborough County, the party lost two county commission seats, a new Congressional seat and a state Senate seat.

Political journalist William March said the sizeable Republican wins for incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis and in the U.S. Senate race were surprising.

"The margins on some of the statewide races like the DeSantis race, the governor's race and the Val Demings vs. (Sen.) Marco Rubio race, margins larger than I expected, much larger than I'm accustomed to seeing in Florida politics," he said.

March says Democrats also are concerned that Hispanic voters — especially those in South Florida — are continuing a migration to the Republican Party.

Hours after the results came in, the state Democratic Progressive Caucus called for the resignation of Manny Diaz, the state party Chairman.

"Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz, who two years ago promised everything, delivered on none of it," according to a news release from the caucus.

"The results of this election are direct evidence of a vacuum in leadership that can not be allowed to continue. Chair Diaz never understood the electorate, the timely need for outreach, registration, and community participation. There was no outreach plan for FDP’s most reliable voters, including minorities, youth, and progressives."

And Miami-Dade Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo spoke out after being soundly defeated in her quest for a seat in Congress.

"We know what’s wrong. We know how to win in Florida, and Florida can be won again," she said. "But we need to organize, and we need to realize that you just can’t go, ‘Uh! Florida is done, let’s walk away,’ which is what Democrats do. You know what Republicans do? They lose in Florida and they invest even more, they spend even more time with the people."

Taddeo, who was born in Colombia, also noted that Republicans made major gains with Hispanic voters, a once solid demographic for Democrats.

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.