Unless you’ve lived under a rock and haven’t laid eyes on a television in the past year, you can’t help but notice that Tuesday, November 4, is Election Day. In Florida we are voting for governor, attorney general, state and national representatives, and we’re also deciding on important ballot initiatives. My advice to voters is to read up on the candidates and initiatives and to be informed! The ability to vote is a basic feature of democracy and I implore you to exercise that ability.
Here’s a rundown of many elections you’ll see on your ballot this Election Day.
Former Governor Charlie Crist, once Republican, turned Independent, and now running as a Democrat, is up against our current governor, Republican Rick Scott.
Scott has been plagued with low approval ratings for years, the lowest any Florida governor has seen since Bob Martinez. Scott has leveled the playing field by airing a slew of radio and television ads (Scott’s campaign has spent nearly $50 million on airtime up until this point) attacking Crist on multiple fronts, from his relationship with former donors to his allegiance to President Obama.
Crist, who is outspent, has still managed to lob his own attack ads at Scott, labeling him “for the powerful few, not you,” and rehashing Scott’s Medicare fraud case, in which he pled the Fifth 75 times. Crist has also come out in support of marriage equality and all LGBT rights, representing a complete 180 on his stances while governor just a few short years ago.
Then there’s Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian candidate who is benefiting handsomely from voter fatigue, polling anywhere between 7 and 12 percent. As we enter the home stretch, the race is still a toss-up, and it’s anyone’s guess who will be taking the oath of office in January.
Our current Attorney General, Republican Pam Bondi, is running for a second term. Democrat George Sheldon and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer are on the ballot against her.
Pam Bondi has run on a track record of aggressively prosecuting murderers and rapists, and cleaning up Florida’s reputation as a “pill mill” haven. She has also vigorously defended Florida’s gay marriage ban in court, something that did not win her any favors with the LGBT community. Democrat George Sheldon, who would stop defending the ban in court if elected, is currently behind in the polls by ten points, mainly due to Democratic donations being earmarked for the governor’s race.
As much as I hate the prospect, it looks like Pam Bondi, a fan of traditional marriage so much that she’s had three (or two-and-a-half?) of them, will get another term. But I say vote anyway. If she does win, hopefully she’ll realize that she works for all of us.
Other Statewide Races
All of Florida’s 27 representatives in Congress are up for re-election. The Washington Post, among other outlets, extensively covered the July court ruling that deemed seven districts illegally gerrymandered, so many of you may be voting to elect a member of Congress who did not serve you previously. It’s a lot to wrap one’s head around, I know! To find out if your district has changed, visit election.dos.state.fl.us. Four Representatives, Gus Bilirakis, Kathy Castor, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, are running unopposed.
Twenty of Florida’s 40 State Senate seats are up for grabs and all 120 of Florida’s State House seats are in play. Currently the Republicans control both chambers and that is unlikely to change with this election. Did you know that 69 out of the 120 State House seats are guaranteed to the current officeholders simply because the opposing party didn’t field a candidate? In any event, it is still important to know who your representatives are and what they stand for.
Remember, in Florida, for the State Constitution to be amended, 60% of voters must approve any initiative up for a vote. This year there are three. If approved, the following amendments will take effect:
- Amendment 1: 33 percent of net revenue from the current excise tax on documents will be transferred to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. This will acquire and improve Florida’s state parks, recreational trails, beaches, wildlife habitats, wetlands, forests, and the like.
- Amendment 2: Medical marijuana would be legalized and the Florida Department of Health would regulate its dispensation and use. Patients and caregivers, physicians, and medical marijuana dispensaries would not be held criminally liable for its prescription or use under state law.
- Amendment 3: The governor would be allowed to fill judicial vacancies, even in “prospective” situations, such as the current judge failing a primary election or a retention, or the judge reaching the retirement age of 70.
Many Florida cities have mayoral elections on their ballots. The people of Altamonte Springs, Aventura, Cooper City, Coral Gables, Coral Springs, Cutler Bay, Dania Beach, Deltona, Dunedin, Lauderhill, North Lauderdale, Ormond Beach, Pensacola, Port Saint Lucie, Sanford, Tamarac, Wilton Manors and Winter Springs will all choose either to re-elect their mayors or toss them for their challengers. North Miami’s mayoral election heads toward a runoff on Election Day, Largo’s mayoral candidate is running unopposed, and Oakland Park’s commission will be the ones selecting their city’s next mayor.
Read our past Politics Unusual features on the 2014 elections in Florida by visiting hotspotsmedia.com.