In a surprise ending to a contentious statehouse race in which its chief combatants threw everything but kitchen sinks at one another, David Richardson was all but formally elected to the Florida House on Tuesday night.
Richardson, a 55-year-old CPA who resides in South Beach, beat out fellow Miami Beach residents Mark Weithorn and Adam Kravitz for the seat whose district includes Miami Beach, downtown Miami, East Little Havana, and North Bay Village.
By virtue of no Republican opponent challenging him in November, Richardson has essentially secured the seat and becomes the state’s first openly gay legislator in the process.
He replaces Democrat Richard Steinberg, who resigned six months ago following a sexting scandal.
Richardson took 33% of the 9,458 votes cast. Weithorn came in second with 26%, and Kravitz finished third with 24%. Also-ran Waldo Faura garnered 16%.
The winner and his supporters awaited election results at Oliver’s Bistro on West Ave. Tuesday evening. Richardson’s Facebook page said that he had canvassed the district “every day for the past month, meeting neighbors in every single precinct, knocking on 15,092 doors.”
The skirmish for an otherwise ho-hum statehouse seat in Tallahassee was elevated to greater prominence by the noteworthy nastiness levels it reached. Kravitz and Weithorn bombarded voters’ mailboxes in recent weeks with attacks on one another’s business backgrounds and characters, with each – via glossy campaign advertising mailers – trading insults like “deadbeat” and “failure.”
Even Richardson was decorated in mud by his opponents in the race’s final days.
Richardson, who ran on a platform of opposing cuts to public schools and universities, opposing school vouchers, and of supporting a woman’s right to choose and equal rights for gender, race, and sexual orientation, slung mud at Gov. Rick Scott, whom one of his mailers labeled a “10 on the Right-Wing Richter Scale.
“Our state has been hit like an earthquake by Scott’s agenda. David Richardson is running to stop him!” the ad declared.
Now, Richardson will become part of the Democratic minority in the House – outnumbered by Republicans 76 to 44 in the last session – that will oppose Scott’s legislative agenda during the next two years.
Richardson swept 31 of 53 precincts, most of which were in Miami Beach. He also claimed both of North Bay Village’s precincts, plus ten in Miami.
Weithorn won 16 precincts, all of which were in Miami Beach except for two in Miami. He and Richardson tied in one Miami Beach precinct.
Faura won 3 precincts, all in Miami.
Kravitz took only one Miami Beach precinct.