(November 5, 2014) -- In a mid-term election plagued by voter apathy, a strong turnout by pro-equality voters was a key factor in making Florida’s governor’s race an Election Day toss-up.
With a huge financial advantage in a year where the GOP was predicted to sweep the election, early forecasts were that Rick Scott was expected to win by a wide margin. But with marriage equality making news almost daily in Florida and across the country, Rick Scott’s opposition to same-sex marriage became a liability.
Scott repeatedly distanced himself from Attorney General Pam Bondi’s decisions to appeal court rulings. He downplayed his support for the ban and worked hard to straddle the issue of gay rights, stating that he opposes discrimination, and even urging Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto anti-gay legislation. Those moves signal what has been a growing shift in the Republican Party on the issue of LGBT rights as support continues to grow across all demographics.
The electorate in Florida has become decidedly pro-equality, including the rapidly growing pool of Independent voters who want no part of the old far right culture wars. The message to candidates seeking statewide office is clear: Appeals to anti-gay bigotry are a political liability.
Public support in Florida continues to move swiftly in favor of same-sex marriage, and it is unlikely that a candidate opposed to LGBT equality will ever again win a Florida governor’s race.
In this election, pro-equality voters once again beat statewide turnout averages by wide margins. Going into Election Day, nearly 40% of Equality Florida’s 204,000 members had already voted, putting them on pace to exceed statewide turnout by more than 20%.
Having barely survived what many observers had predicted would be a routine re-election campaign, Rick Scott should now listen to the voters and commit to govern from the center during his second term. Now that the election is over, he should abandon the hopeless and costly appeals to Florida’s marriage ban, and send a clear signal that he has heard the voters and is ready to move our state forward.
About Equality Florida
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. www.eqfl.org