Today is Election Day, when Floridians will decide the political future of the state.
The issues on the ballot
getting the most attention are the governor’s race and medical marijuana. In all, the ballot includes elections for the lieutenant governor, five cabinet positions, Florida State Senate, Florida House of Representatives and three statewide measures.
Incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott is running for against Democrat Charlie Crist and Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie.
Scott had a history in corporate health care before becoming governor in 2010. Because of his work with Columbia Hospital Corporation/Hospital Corporation of America, Scott had strong feelings about the Affordable Care Act, coined “ObamaCare,” which passed in March 2010.
Together with Attorney General Pam Bondi, Scott challenged the law in the Supreme Court but was unsuccessful.
The Business Journals ranked Scott 12th of 45 governors in terms of job creation in 2013. Nate Silver of The New York Times named Scott the 20th most conservative governor in the U.S.
Democratic candidate Crist, who served as governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, is running for governor once again. Crist served as a member of the Republican Party until 2010 when he became an independent, and then a member of the Democratic Party in 2012.
Before his initial run as governor, Crist represented St. Petersburg in the State Senate from 1993 to 1999, then as Deputy Secretary of Business and Professional Regulation, State Education Commissioner and Attorney General of Florida.
Crist strongly favors expanding health care, opposes higher taxes on the middle class and supports legalizing medical marijuana.
Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie served as chair of the Libertarian Party between 2011 and 2013 and is the co-founder of Tampa-based 1787 Radio Network. Wyllie is seeking to eradicate the Common Core education system in favor of a comprehensive policy that would provide families with more choices, according to his campaign website.
Wyllie intends to repeal all property taxes and reduce state sales tax from the current 6 percent to 4 percent. He is also a proponent of legalizing medical marijuana in Florida.
Three statewide measures will be voted on in the Florida election.
Amendment 1 is in regard to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, supported by Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, which would be expended to improve land conservation initiatives in Florida to include beaches, wetlands, forests, historical and geological sites. The amendment claims it will not increase or decrease state revenue, however it cannot determine future expenditures as a result of future legislature.
Amendment 2, upon voter approval, will legalize medical marijuana in Florida. The amendment will require patients with debilitating medical conditions such as HIV, AIDS, Crohn’s disease and ALS to acquire a prescription to use the drug. In June of this year, current Gov. Scott signed a bill that will go into effect in January 2015 that will legalize low-THC strains of medical marijuana.
The Florida Prospective Judicial Vacancies, Amendment 3, would allow the governor to fill judicial vacancies by appointing a judge or justice from among three to six candidates or prospectively fill the position personally.
Each amendment is required to win a supermajority vote of 60 percent in order to win.
Incumbent Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi is running for reelection against Democrat George Sheldon and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer.
Bondi, who won office in the 2010 gubernatorial election, previously served as prosecutor and assistant state attorney in the Thirteenth Judicial District. She is well known as a leader in the 26-state lawsuit against the federal government to repeal ObamaCare in which Florida was the lead plaintiff, as well as for her 2011 bill aimed against prescription drug abuse.
Sheldon formerly served as a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives and secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families. In a recent debate among the candidates for attorney general, Sheldon voiced his support for the legalization of medical marijuana and same-sex marriage.
Wohlsifer is currently an attorney practicing debt collection, copyright and trademark litigation, and homeowners association law. He describes himself as “fiscally conservative and socially tolerant.” Wohlsifer has not directly stated approval for the legalization of medical marijuana but believes in greater freedom of medical marijuana use.
Chief financial officer
Incumbent Jeffrey Atwater is running for reelection against Democratic candidate William Rankin.
Atwater served in the State House, State Senate, and as President of the Senate until 2010 when term limits prohibited him from running again. He ran for office for chief financial officer in 2010 and won.
Rankin ran for Florida State Senate District 34 in the 2012 election, but did not win. He ran uncontested for the Democratic nomination in the 2014 primary for chief financial officer.
Commissioner of agriculture
Republican incumbent Adam Putnam is running for re-election against Democratic candidate Thaddeus “Thad” Hamilton.
Putnam was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1996 at the age of 22 where he served until 2001. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 until 2011, when he took office as Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Hamilton ran uncontested for the Democratic nomination in the 2014 primary and was selected as the Democratic candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Hamilton worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service from 1970 to 2006 and is the former chairman of the Broward County Land Preservation Advisory Council, according to the Miami Herald.
Attorney and USF alumnus Robert Bauman is running against attorney and Tampa native Melissa “Missy” Polo for district 34 circuit judge, a position currently held by retiring judge James “Jim” M. Barton II.
Carl C. Hinson is running against Barbara Twine Thomas for circuit judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit. Hinson, a trial lawyer and past president of the Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association, received his bachelor’s degree in management from USF before attending Nova Southeastern University Law School.
Thomas was the past president of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, Hillsborough Association for Women’s Lawyers and the George Edgecomb Bar Association. After receiving an undergraduate degree from USF, she continued onto law school at the University of Florida.
Senators and representatives
Republican incumbent Tom Lee is running unopposed for state senator representing Hillsborough County. Prior to taking office in 2012, Lee attended the University of Tampa and worked for his family’s construction company.
Democratic State Representative incumbent Mark Danish is running for re-election against Republican candidate Shawn Harrison. Prior to being elected in 2012, Danish was a real estate agent and science teacher. Harrison, a USF alumnus, currently works as an attorney and business owner.
Republican incumbent Dennis Ross is running for re-election as Representative for District 15, which includes Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Ross was elected into office in 2011 and is running against democratic candidate Alan Cohn, an award-winning investigative reporter.
Current representative for District 6 of the Hillsborough County School Board April Griffin is running for re-election against lawyer Dipa Shah. Griffin was a business owner before being elected into the position in November 2006 and has since championed overhauling the transportation department and increased vocational training.
Shah hopes to better communicate between the district and parents and be an open ear to issues among teachers and transportation employees.