Republicans win super-majority in Florida House

Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, of Maitland
Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, of Maitland

Florida Republicans reclaimed a super-majority in the state House of Representatives, flipping six seats Tuesday night.

To capture a veto-proof majority, the GOP needed to oust at least five Democratic incumbents.

Republicans targeted seven sitting lawmakers: Rep. Karen Castor Dentel of Maitland; Rep. Michael Clelland of Lake Mary; Rep. Mark Danish of Tampa; Rep. Dwight Dudley of St. Petersburg; Rep. José Javier Rodríguez of Miami; Rep. Linda Stewart of Orlando; and Rep. Carl Zimmermann of Palm Harbor.

Two wins came early in Tampa Bay, where attorney Shawn Harrison prevailed over Danish, and special prosecutor Chris Sprowls bested Zimmermann.

Sprowls called it a “hard-fought victory.”

Clelland lost to former Republican Rep. Scott Plakon in Seminole County. In neighboring Orange County, Stewart lost to Republican Mike Miller.

Castor Dentel also failed to win re-election. Her challenger, Republican Bob Cortes, owns a towing company and has served on the Longwood City Commission.

Republicans picked up an additional seat when Republican Rene Plasencia ousted Democratic Rep. Joe Saunders in Orlando.

Two of the targeted Democrats survived the election. Rodriguez, of Miami, held off Republican challenger Daniel Diaz Leyva, who had raised about $430,000 for his campaign.

In St. Petersburg, Dudley beat Bill Young, the son of the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

The GOP last had a super-majority in the 120-member Florida House between 2010 and 2012. It enabled House Republicans to pursue one of the most conservative agendas in recent memory.

Republican Party of Florida spokeswoman Susan Hepworth said the super-majority would not “change the way the Legislature governs.”

“The super-majority was never the goal,” she said. “The goal was to retain the majority. The Legislature was very effective under Gov. [Rick] Scott without a super-majority.”

Contact Kathleen McGrory at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.