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Scott's weak victory strengthens clout of GOP's powerful legislature

Rick Scott victoryThe biggest winner in Tuesday’s election in Florida was the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature. It coasted to victory with little effort, broke fundraising records and came away with enough political power to control the agenda — even that of Gov. Rick Scott’s.

Florida voters gave the governor four more years in office, but more people voted against him than for him. Unofficial election returns gave Scott a 1.1 percent victory over Democrat Charlie Crist, a margin of nearly 66,000 votes out of 6 million cast, nearly identical to Scott’s 61,550-vote win over Alex Sink four years ago. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie got 223,000 votes.

By contrast, Republicans in the Legislature picked up a super-majority in the House and preserved their majority in the Senate, essentially restoring the numbers they had in 2010 when Scott was first elected in the Tea Party wave.

The results are a reminder that Florida remains a deeply divided state with a majority that swings right during the mid-term elections and swings left in presidential years.

The returns also show that, even in a year in which Republicans swept most competitive seats and the Florida GOP invested more than $100 million re-electing the governor, Scott’s political persona remains weak. He will go down in the history books as the only governor elected twice without getting a majority of the vote either time.

“There is no mandate for Rick Scott,” said Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant. “We’re going to continue to hold him accountable. He does not have the support that he thinks he has.”

As a result, the Republicans in the Legislature are expected to set the agenda and shape it, as they have done in Scott’s first four years.

“We’re going to pick up right where we left off,’’ said Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, the incoming House speaker. “We will continue to work on what we’ve been working on — providing a good environment for businesses to create jobs and a lower unemployment rate.” Story here

Expect legislation to track the agendas of some of the GOP’s largest donors. Among them:

* Gambling: $8.6 million

* Florida Power & Light:$7.5 million

* U.S. Sugar: $2.7 million

* Telecom industry: $1.5 million

* Construction industry: $1.8 million

* Healthcare industry: $2.3 million

* Charter school and school choice proponents:  $900,000

* Business lobby: more than $10 million.