Chris Dorworth has lost his seat in the Florida House of Representatives.
A hand recount completed Monday afternoon confirmed that the Lake Mary Republican, who was supposed to take over as speaker of the state House in just two years, has been defeated by Democratic challenger Mike Clelland.
The final tally showed Clelland defeating Dorworth by 146 votes out of nearly 74,000 cast.
Clelland, a 48-year-old lawyer and former city of Longwood firefighter, who sat through much of the marathon recount process, pronounced himself “relieved and happy, obviously.”
“Right now, I just want to get up there [to Tallahassee], build some trust with the Republicans, find some common ground, and get to work,” Clelland said.
The final count capped a stunning collapse for the 36-year-old Dorworth, who had been one of the most powerful figures in Florida politics. Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, had already appointed Dorworth his majority leader for the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions, and Dorworth was expected to follow as speaker himself the next two years.
Remaining Republicans in the Florida House have already settled on someone to replace Dorworth as speaker for the 2015-2016 term: Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island.
Dorworth’s narrow defeat stemmed from a confluence of factors.