Florida Family Action Analysis of the 2016 Election Results

By John Stemberger

President’s Race
Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. On Tuesday, America resoundingly said “I’m not with her!” The ‘basket of deplorables,’ as Clinton called them, were sufficiently angry and tired of the direction of our country. They made it very clear that they were not going to take it anymore. Not only did Donald Trump carry Florida, but he also carried Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania —all states that Barack Obama won— twice. One of the reasons that the polls were so wrong this election cycle was because of what is called “under polling.” Many people are uncomfortable saying what they believe in a phone poll (or won’t answer polls when the candidate of their choice is under fire in the media) but the ballot box reveals the truth of their convictions. It is in this way that polling can be inaccurate.

ABC News reported last night that the evangelical voter turnout was the largest in U.S. history and you helped us to make this happen. With your support, Florida Family Action operated four field offices this year. Each office was staffed with a full-time field operative and dozens of committed volunteers who engaged in an aggressive voter identification and turnout campaign. FFA staff and volunteers made hundreds of thousands of phone calls, distributed voter guides, engaged their churches and pastors, and forwarded important information to their circles of influence. In addition, we published one of the most researched and effective Presidential voter guides in the country, which was used by many other pro-family organizations in Florida and nationally. This election is a historic victory for our country and for our state.

While many of us opposed Trump back in the primary (and some people even in the general) the people have spoken and we now have an extraordinary opportunity. We can all breathe easy now that the threat of the Clinton dynasty is dead and there remains great hope for the future of American liberty. To be clear, we need to have our eyes wide open here. Based on his long history, Donald Trump is not a man to be emulated as an example for moral character because of his consistent comments degrading and dehumanizing others. But let’s pray for him and pray that he will learn self-control, that he will be convicted of the weight of his sin and the weight of the monumental task before him and rise to the occasion. For us to lead with integrity, we need to praise officials when they do good and call them out to hold them accountable when they do bad.  We don’t board any candidates “train” blindly without seeing everything as it really is.

Notwithstanding this, there is an extraordinary opportunity to take back America from the stranglehold of the left. Trump is surrounding himself with remarkable principled conservative advisers, many of whom are Christians. He will also make thousands of political appointments that have worldviews much more like ours, than those who would have governed under Hillary Clinton. If he does nothing else than appoint two Justices to the Supreme Court from the two lists he made public, this alone will turn the tide on so much of the social and immoral nonsense that is currently being shoved down the throats of the American people by a runway leftist SCOTUS.

Even so, we must remember there are major divisions and anger not just in America, but also within the Evangelical and faithful Catholic communities. Almost half of Americans voted for other candidates and many of them are sitting in the pews of our churches. We need be charitable, humble and reach out to them. You can read my recent article published in The Stream entitled “Leadership in an Angry & Divided Nation: A Christian Response to the 2016 Election Results” here.

In addition to the Presidential race, there were major victories for conservative, pro-life, and pro-family candidates across the country:

Florida U.S. Senate Race
Marco Rubio won re-election to the US Senate easily against Democrat challenger Patrick Murphy. FFA President John Stemberger personally encouraged Marco Rubio to run again for his Senate seat after he lost his GOP Presidential primary bid. Our staff launched a “Draft Rubio for U.S. Senate” campaign on Facebook urging him to run. The National Review reported on our involvement Tuesday in their article “For Marco Rubio, What Might Have Been — and Still Could Be.” Senator Marco Rubio is a man with remarkable gifts and character. He will continue to serve Florida as one of the brightest and best communicators in American politics. Rubio will remain one of the brightest stars in the GOP constellation, along with a long bench of leaders including Mike Pence, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Paul Ryan and a host of other standard bearers. Contrast this depth of leadership with the Democrat Party which is leaderless, apart from Hillary and Bernie, who are the old, tired white “guys” on the way out.

U.S. Senate
Thankfully, the majority of seats were retained by Republicans. There were serious concerns over whether Republicans could hold their majority in the US Senate. It appears that Trump’s presence did not harm, but rather may have helped them with voter turnout. The Presidency, Senate, and House are now under Republican control for the first time in 10 years.

U.S. House
As in the Senate, the Republicans kept their majority in the U.S House of Representatives. Florida’s standard-bearer Dan Webster will return to Washington, along with conservative congressmen Ron DeSantis of Jacksonville, Ted Yoho of Gainesville, and Dennis Ross of Lakeland. In the Panhandle, State Rep. Matt Gaetz was elected to the US House. While Rep. Gaetz has remained pro-life in the Florida Legislature, he capitulated to LGBT special interests while serving in the Florida Legislature by helping to remove the prohibition against homosexual couples adopting. A wide field in the primary and his family name helped him to secure the Republican nomination for his district. We remain concerned about his commitment to conservative principles. Neal Dunn also won his first election. Dunn has been accused of being the ultimate Washington insider, but a wide field in the primary also helped him to secure the nomination and ultimately his new seat. Dunn attended and participated in the District 2 Congressional Debate we held in Tallahassee earlier this year. Former Ambassador to the Holy See and businessman Tom Rooney won a Republican seat in Congress as well as Brian Mast, a double amputee war veteran.

Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz managed to retain her seat despite the scandal surrounding her after a DNC email leak.  Democrats can’t be happy and some are even blaming her for Clinton’s loss.

BREAKING: Florida Republicans supporting gay rights lose elections
Two incumbent Florida Republican congressman who supported “gay rights” lost their election bids Tuesday. Long-time incumbent John Mica of Orlando and David Jolly a two-term Pinellas congressman lost to Democrats and will not be returning to Washington, DC. John Mica betrayed conservative Christians that supported him for years, when in an extraordinary act of desperation and cowardice, he signed on to support a federal expansion of gay rights to create a new protective class for gender identity and gender expression. These sexual orientation and gender identity laws are weapons to punish Christians, and compromise the privacy, safety and security of women. Such laws allow men to use women’s private places in showers, locker rooms and bathrooms. Frankly, I am glad to see Mica and others like him go.

David Jolly also lost to Charlie Crist, Florida’s former governor, attorney general and former US Senate candidate. Charlie Crist currently works as a lawyer with Morgan and Morgan. John Morgan’s Orlando personal injury law firm is responsible for the passage of Amendment 2 “Medical Marijuana.” Jolly betrayed voters only months after his election. He campaigned against gay marriage and then he flip-flopped and came out in support of it. We personally challenged David Jolly with an open letter which made national news because he lied to and then betrayed voters who worked very hard to get him elected based on his views on marriage and gay-rights.

Republican Dean Asher in Central Florida also lost his bid to replace Andy Gardiner in the Florida Senate. Asher also openly supported these anti-liberty, pro-gay “non-discrimination” laws, and cut a deal with gay activists from downtown Orlando.

MEMO TO ELECTED OFFICIALS IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Pro-gay rights Republicans are losing Republicans. Do not cave to the LGBT mafia and bullies of our culture. If you support the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, or The Equality Act in Congress, you will become enemy number one to our movement. We will actively oppose you for your opposition to religious liberty and for your cowardice in being unwilling to stand for basic public safety, security and privacy of women and children.

Florida State Legislature
The 2014-2016 Florida House of Representatives was comprised of 81 Republicans and 39 Democrats. If current projections by the Florida Division of Elections hold, Republicans will lose two seats to Democrats. This will make the 2016-2018 House makeup 79 Republicans and 41 Democrats. Florida Senate Republicans lost one seat to Democrats. Republicans retain control of the Senate with 25 seats and Democrats increase to 15 seats. Republicans will retain a trifecta in the state, controlling the governorship and both chambers of the Legislature.

Florida Senate
A couple of key wins may very well make the Senate a more conservative chamber than it was last session. Keith Perry, a FFA Champion of the Family, moved from the House to the Senate, beating former Democrat Party Chair Rod Smith. Dennis Baxley, Debbie Mayfield, Dana Young, Greg Steube, Kathleen Passidomo, and Frank Artiles are other Republican House members moving to the Senate. Mayfield and Steube are also FFA Champions of the Family, while Baxley is very strong on our non-negotiables of life, marriage, family and religious liberty. Dana Young’s win out of Tampa is somewhat concerning as she’s been vocal in her support of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA). Moderate Republican Miguel Diaz de la Portilla in Miami lost to his Democrat challenger after drawing the ire of his party by refusing to hear two bills on open carry this last legislative session. In addition, he insisted on hearing FCWA in his committee twice, a bill that had never been heard previously in the ten years the bill has been proposed.

Florida House
There were several competitive races in the Florida House involving FFA Champions of the Family. Those races resulted in wins for the conservative candidate. Ross Spano was heavily targeted by Democrats and his race was considered one of the toughest races in the state. He won Tuesday by approximately 9 points.  Bob Cortes, Manny Diaz, and George Moraitis also achieved victory in competitive races. But last night’s results did not come with all good news for social conservatives. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a lobbyist for Equality Florida, won a seat in the House. Having an LGBT special rights advocate embedded in a Legislature that has grown increasingly friendly to LGBT special interests and is coming under increasing pressure to grant special rights to the LGBT community could be very dangerous to our religious liberty.  In other news, UCF student Amber Mariano beat the Democrat incumbent in House District 36, making her the youngest person to ever win a seat in the Florida House (a record previously held by Jennifer Sullivan). Republicans did lose their supermajority in the Florida House and overall the chamber may not be as conservative as previous years. Under the leadership of Speaker-Designate Richard Corcoran, an outspoken champion of life, we hope that the Florida House will continue to protect the foundational freedoms of all Floridians. Corcoran is a promising and reform-minded conservative Republican who will be a force to be reckoned with long into the future of Florida politics.

Florida Constitutional Amendments
Amendment 1We recommended a no vote here and Florida voters rejected the second solar amendment of the year. While 50.77% of Floridians voted yes on the measure, it failed to meet the 60% threshold for addition to the Constitution. The utility company sponsored amendment’s ballot language appeared pro-consumer, but it was bad for Floridians and the future of solar.

Amendment 3: We also recommended a yes vote here and Florida voters overwhelmingly approved this amendment granting the Legislature the ability to pass a property-tax exemption for permanently and totally disabled first responders injured in the line of duty.

Amendment 5: Florida voters also followed our recommendation here and granted the Legislature the ability to pass a property-tax exemption for low-income senior citizens living in houses valued at less than $250,000.

Amendment 2: The legalization of pot in Florida passed with just over 71% of the vote. This was the single greatest loss for Floridians Tuesday and for many generations to come. This is not a problem that can be fixed in 4 or 8 years; it is now a permanent part of our state Constitution. Sadly, this will become a lasting, transforming and negative force on the fabric of our culture. Floridians will have to deal with the effects of increased pot consumption all across our state. 2,000 pot shops will pop up everywhere. The devastation that has consumed Colorado and California is now coming to Florida, and we have Orlando Lawyer John Morgan to thank for this horrific proposal which he will profit from, making millions of dollars. If you voted for this amendment or thought this amendment was just trying to help suffering people, the facts and the bottom line are here and here. You can read extensively about the devastation to Colorado here.

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