Concrete lesson were reaffirmed in Tuesday's election.
Hard and fast rules of politics proved true once again.
The conventional wisdom still holds.
Among the things we can take away from a tumultuous night of vote counting and result readings:
■ The Candidates with the Most Money Always Win (Unless They Don't).
You can go up and down the ballots in Collier and Lee counties to find victorious candidates who raised more than their opponents. Sheriff Kevin Rambosk outraised challenger Victor Ortino $73,000 to $26,000. Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala outraised Steve Cosgrove $79,000 to $10,000. Successful challenger Larry Kiker raised $91,000 compared to the $53,000 raised by incumbent Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah.
But in key races, the candidate with less money won.
Ray Rodrigues, the Republican primary winner in newly drawn State House District 76 raised $71,000 and took just under 50 percent of the vote in a three-man race. Michael Grant, also vying for that seat, raised $187,000 and got 28 percent.
Lee County Commission candidate Cecil Pendergrass won despite raising about 20 percent less than former Commissioner Doug St. Cerny, who collected $64,000 in contributions.
■ You Can Buy Your Way Into Office (Unless You Can't).
Tim Nance unseated Collier County Commission District 5 incumbent Jim Coletta with the help of more than $100,000 he loaned to his own campaign. Nance got 2,679 votes, easily beating Coletta's 1,448.
In all, Nance spent at least $55 per vote to win. Collier County Judge candidate Jim McGarity put $68,000 of his own money into his campaign and earned a spot in a runoff with incumbent Judge Eugene Turner.
But other races in which a candidate donated heavily to his own campaign didn't turn out the same.
Stephen Smith, challenging Collier County Court Judge Mike Carr, loaned his campaign $50,000 of the $62,000 he raised and yet Carr won with 65 percent of the vote.
John Barlow put more than $150,000 of his own money into his race against Collier Clerk of Courts Dwight Brock yet managed to get just a third of the votes cast.
■ Negative Ads Work (Unless They Don't).
Judah was successfully attacked in ads labeling him as too liberal. Losing congressional candidates Chauncey Goss and Paige Kreegel were dubbed big spenders.
But the most vicious smear in what is widely viewed as the most contentious local election season in memory was leveled at Collier County Commissioner Tom Henning. A mailer sent out by a political action committee days before the vote accused Henning of violence against women, a charge based on civil allegations stemming from divorce cases rather than any criminal matter.
The mailer, with a picture of a woman with a battered face fearfully looking up at a looming silhouette of a man, was stark and shocking.
Yet Henning managed to win re-election over challenger Bill McDaniel, who professed no knowledge of the flier. The scurrilous attack against Henning may have even helped him in a race in which the winning margin was just over 300 votes.
Trey Radel, the winner of the Republican nomination for U.S. House District 19 was targeted as "not a serious candidate" in an attack ad aired by a PAC formed by supporters of Goss. Radel beat Goss by eight percentage points in a six-person race.
Interestingly, the attack ad against Goss and Kreegel was funded by supporters of Radel.
■ Newspaper Endorsements Are Critical to Victory (Unless They Aren't).
Successful Collier County candidates to earn the Daily News endorsement included Rambosk, Fiala, Brock and Tax Collector Larry Ray.
But an impressive array of candidates in Collier and Lee won without the paper's endorsement. Count among them Henning, Nance, Property Appraiser Abe Skinner and Lee Commission candidates Pendergrass and Kiker.
In the biggest race covering parts of both Collier and Lee counties, Radel won despite not getting the endorsement of either the Daily News or the News-Press.
So there you have it, a set of rules you can depend on to help you predict the outcome of future elections (unless you can't).
Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten