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Democrats Canceled Their Florida Primary To Help Biden. It Backfired And Helped Republicans Flip Local Seats

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Florida Democrats chose to award President Joe Biden the state’s delegates in November instead of holding a presidential primary vote, presumably to protect the unpopular incumbent. But it appears the move backfired and led to a wipeout of Democrats in local races.

Florida Democrat Party leaders awarded Biden the state’s 224 delegates months ago and cancelled the primary, in a move Biden’s Democrat challengers called “intentional disenfranchisement” and said was “done obviously in secret, obviously to help the incumbent Joe Biden.” The lack of a statewide Democrat primary meant registered Democrats had less reason to turn out on Tuesday than Republicans, who decisively voted for former President Donald Trump in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Based on the several key wins by Republicans, Democratic turnout appears to have been hampered by the party’s decision. Republicans and Republican-supported candidates managed to flip several seats in their favor.

Republican-backed Bruce Rector won Clearwater’s nonpartisan race for mayor, while Michael Mannino flipped City Council Seat 3 and Ryan Cotton flipped Seat 2 — defeating incumbent Democrat Mark Bunker who was endorsed by the Florida Democratic Party. Biden narrowly won Pinellas County in 2020.

The Tampa Bay Times attributed the wins to “significant conservative turnout.”

In Orange County, Shane Taylor won the Oakland mayoral race, beating Town Commissioner Salvador Ramos. “Taylor had run as a strong conservative,” noted Florida Politics’ Jacob Ogles.

Nick Nesta, a Republican, won another term as Apopka City Commissioner while Nadia Anderson flipped a Democrat-held seat.

In Delray Beach, former mayor and commissioner Tom Carney flipped the mayor seat and beat Shirley Johnson and Ryan Boylston by more than 10 percentage points each. Johnson had “said she [would] strive for diversity, equity and inclusion,” a favorite Democrat talking point. Biden won the district by nearly 30 points in 2020.

In Juno Beach, the Florida GOP celebrated Peggy Wheeler defeating incumbent Mayor Alexander Cooke.

Failed gubernatorial candidate and Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Nikki Fried launched an initiative to boost local Democrat-friendly candidates, but just four out of the seven candidates she endorsed won their races — and two of them narrowly.

Democrat-backed George Oliver won his seat on the Ocoee City Commission by just 44 votes, according to Florida Politics, which noted his pro-life challenger “appeared to have benefitted from the fact Republicans had a statewide Presidential Preference Party while Democrats did not.” Biden won Orange County by more than 20 percentage points in 2020.

Broward County Commission staffer Maria Rodriguez, who was also backed by Fried, fended off three opponents but won just 39 percent of the vote to serve on the city commission, beating the second-place candidate by 3 points, according to Florida Politics. Biden won Broward County by nearly 30 percentage points in 2020.


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