Florida Democrats added one more to their 44-member minority in the Florida House on Tuesday by narrowly capturing a Pasco County legislative seat in a special election.
The former holder of the office, Republican Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, had been tapped by Gov. Rick Scott to serve as Pasco tax collector, and the GOP candidate to replace him, Bill Gunter, had a nearly three-to-one financial advantage over Democrat Amanda Murphy (if you count just direct spending by the campaigns and in-kind support from the parties).
For incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, this was his first loss as the defender-in-chief of the House majority. “Amanda Murphy campaigned as an independent voice, so I am hopeful she will reject the special interests to work for common sense solutions to Florida’s challenges,” he said in a statement after the loss.
Democrats quickly claimed the race could indicate bigger things to come next year, or even 2016.
Murphy squeaked by in a race that had turned negative, winning by 322 votes — or a 1.7 percent margin — in a race with 19.9 percent turnout. She also benefitted from a rare series of intervening events unlikly to be duplicated in next year’s general election.