TALLAHASSEE — Republicans gained two additional seats Tuesday in the Florida Senate and possibly a half dozen more in the state House, putting the Legislature clearly in the drivers' seat on making policy for at least the next two years.
The two-thirds majority in each chamber leaves the GOP in position of being able to override any veto Florida's new governor might issue if they are united. Late Tuesday, that race was still too close to call between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink.
It was, quite simply, a great night for the Florida GOP in the Legislature from the top leaders right on down. Republicans now have a 28-12 majority in the Senate, their most since Reconstruction and at least 81 seats in the 120-member House.
"This is the best opportunity we've ever had," said incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who was re-elected without opposition while presumptive House Speaker Dean Cannon and Sen. John Thrasher, who doubles up as the state Republican Party chairman, won in impressive fashion.
"We want to put a big 'open for business' sign in front of Florida," a jubilant Haridopolos told The Associated Press. "Florida's open for business. People will know there are not going to be new taxes or new regulations that would hamper business."
With 93 percent of the expected vote counted, Thrasher had 60 percent to Deborah Gianoulis 40 percent while Cannon took almost 59 percent of the vote in his central Florida victory over Democrat Amy Mercado.
Thrasher, 66, repelled the bid of Gianoulis, a vivacious former television news anchor making her first political race. Democrats hoped she could defeat the former House speaker and Vietnam veteran. Gianoulis, who is well known in the northeastern Florida Senate district after two dozen years as a popular TV newswoman, needed to pull a lot of Republican votes to pull off the upset in a heavily Republican district.
Thrasher was elected to the District 8 seat in a special election last year after the death of former Senate President Jim King. Thrasher subsequently moved from Orange Park to St. Augustine to have a residence in the district.
Former state Sen. Jack Latvala won a Tampa Bay area seat previously held by Democrat Charlie Justice and Lizbeth Benacquisto defeated state Rep. Kevin Rader to bring that South Florida seat back into GOP hands. It had been held by Dave Aronberg.
In South Florida, state Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale defeated Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton to keep the seat in GOP hands previously held by outgoing Senate President Jeff Atwater, who was elected Florida's chief financial officer Tuesday.
Five incumbent House Democrats were defeated on Tuesday: Debbie Boyd, Janet Long, Dave Heller, Keith FitzGerald and Adam Fetterman.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Election 2010
SPECIAL SECTION: Election 2010
View our complete coverage of the 2010 Elections. Covering everything from the Collier County school board to the US Senate mid-term elections. Video, photos, stories, campaign contributions, polls and more can be found in our special section.
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- Rick Scott's victory rally
- Alex Sink's concession speech
- Reaction to Scott's election rally
- Scott confident he's governor
- Pat Carroll keeps position in School Board
- Alex Sink Speech (Part I)
- Alex Sink Speech (Part II)
- Early scenes from Scott's rally
- Rick Scott addresses supporters in the early morning hours
- It's hurry up and wait for Rick Scott supporters
- Sink; "We will not stop until every voice is heard."
- Pat Carroll wins District 1 seat for Collier School Board
- Barbara Berry wins Collier School Board seat
- Roy Terry wins Collier School Board seat
- Roseanne Winter defeated by Pat Carroll in school board race
- Kathy Ryan loses to Barbara Berry in Collier School Board Race
- Incumbent Brian Bigelow keeps Lee commissioner's seat
- Marco Rubio wins U.S. Senate seat
- Crist succumbs to Rubio in U.S. Senate race
- Alex Sink waits for results in Governor's race
- Pam Bondi wins Florida Attorney General race
- Naples heads to the polls
- Scott supporters gather in Fort Lauderdale
- Election Day 2010: Results
- Chat archive: Daily News editor Phil Lewis talks about Florida elections
- Sink concedes, Naples' Rick Scott is Florida's new governor
- Collier County School Board: Carroll, Berry, Terry win
- Rivera has comfortable lead for South Florida Congress 25 seat; Mack winning
- Class size amendment losing; Collier may have to rezone elementary schools
- An incumbent ousted in Collier fire board races
- Straw ballot: Collier voters support fire district consolidation
- GOP gains in Southwest Florida legislative seats
- Hall, Bigelow win re-election in Lee County Commission race
- Bonita, Estero fire seats: Incumbents barely hold on to seats
- Sold! Estates shopping center wins at the voting booth
- Marco Rubio wins Senate over Crist, Meek
- Hometown Democracy (Amendment 4) losing statewide, and in Collier, Lee
- Fischer captures Lee County School board seat
- As expected Hiller cruises to Collier County Commission victory
- Two incumbents, three newcomers elected to Lee Memorial Hospital Board
- Mann of the hour: Familiar name wins Lee County judge seat
- Incumbent and newcomer lead for seats on mosquito, soil and water boards
- Republican Pam Bondi takes attorney general race
- Republicans win 7 House seats in Ind, Fla, Va
- 3 Florida Democrat congressional incumbents unseated
- GOP captures governorships in at least 4 states
- GOP gains two-thirds majority in Florida Legislature