Last Tuesday, a special election was held in House District 36 (Pasco County). Although the seat had been held for decades by Republicans, Amanda Murphy edged out a victory over Republican Bill Gunter.
According to the Bradenton Herald, the loss could affect Gov. Rick Scott's re-election. The Herald also reports that Murphy's campaign strongly supported the Affordable Care Act while her Republican opponent "came out forcefully against taking federal money to expand Medicare".
The budget shutdown that wounded the Republican brand last week also inflicted pain on the GOP in Florida: The party lost a seat held for decades by Republicans, and Gov. Rick Scott was hit with a hurdle to his re-election strategy.Even though Murphy was outspent 3-to-1, "independents and moderates, who crossed party lines, gave her the victory margin".
The governor has spent the last six months distancing himself from his February decision to embrace taking $51 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and the disastrous enrollment roll-out appeared to help Republicans keep the issue from returning in the next legislative session.
That might have been easy if Republican Bill Gunter had won last Tuesday's House District 36 race. Instead, the Pasco County seat was won by Amanda Murphy, a Democrat and political newcomer with impeccable timing.
Analysts from both parties now say health care is likely to play a role in the 2014 election in only a handful of swing districts in the Florida House, a St. Petersburg-based swing district in the Senate -- and the governor's race.