Last Updated: 9 p.m.
A historic Republican sweep was in the making Tuesday evening in Flagler as voting results left the county with not one Democratic constitutional officer, with a Republican incumbent and two Republican challengers appearing poised to defeat three Democrats in county commission races.
Rick Staly is Flagler County’s new sheriff, defeating Democrat Larry Jones and independent Thomas Dougherty, Tom Bexley its new Clerk of Court, and Maria Barbosa has won election to the Flagler County School Board, defeating Myra Middleton-Valentine, as all three candidates won lopsided victories.
Staly, an undersheriff in the current Jim Manfre administration its first two years, was celebrating at Flagler Beach’s Beachfront Grille this evening. “The beach side was hit so hard and the people that were hurt the most were people that don’t make much money, the waiter, the waitresses, the staff,” Staly said earlier this afternoon as he was having lunch at a Rotary event for veterans. “Most of those people live paycheck to paycheck, so I wanted to have our party on the beach to support the businesses there and the employees that have been hit so hard.”
In the races for county commission, The GOP’s Donald O’Brien managed to do what no one has done since 1992: unseat Democrat George Hanns, whose traditional strategy of shunning the campaign trail did not work this time. O’Brien was beating him by an insurmountable lead of nearly 20 points with most votes counted. Commissioner Charlie Ericksen appeared poised to easily defend his seat against Democratic challenger Jason DeLorenzo, who resigned his Palm Coast City Council to take on the county commission.
And in the most stunning result of the evening, Dave Sullivan, the former Republican Executive Committee chairman, appeared in position to unseat two-term incumbent Barbara Revels, one of the most effective elected official on any local board in the past eight years.
“I’m elated, I didn’t think I knew 28,000,” Ericksen said, shortly after spending some time at Staly’s party. “I just appreciate the confidence they’ve placed in me and I’ll continue to do the job I’ve been doing and more.” The Republican sweep surprised him. “I know we have a greater number of voters in the county and I think that just followed through, a lot of people voted straight line and that was it,” Ericksen said. He said he was going to miss Hanns and Revels, crediting Revels for being “a good leader, and during the time she was chairperson, she did a super job keeping control.” Of Hanns, he said “he’s had 20-great plus years with the county.”
Sullivan in a statement thanked Revels for her service in the past eight years, then pledged to work with other governments in the county, with special attention to keep taxes low, pay attention to the “less fortunate” and to veterans.
“It’s four years of work,” Sullivan said this evening in an interview. “When I took over as chairman eight years ago there were more registered Democrats than Republicans in the county. We’re now a plurality of over 6,000 Republicans over Democrats, What I did during the campaign, and you can say it was smart or not smart, I played it low key and made sure the Republicans voted for me.” He said the Republican sweep was possible locally despite the internal difficulties that the party went through in the past few years.
“It’s a surprise to most people that I won, because they know Barbara more than they know me, but I’ve been around, too,” Sullivan said.
The result means that come mid-November, and assuming Gov. Rick Scott picks a replacement for the late Frank Meeker by then, the county commission will have three new commissioners, just as the Palm Coast City Council will have two new council members and a new mayor.
DeLorenzo, speaking as he campaigned in late afternoon at the VFW voting precinct, spoke of his concern about the big voting gap between Republicans and Democrats in the county. He’d hoped his record over five years at the council would compensate. Asked what he would do if the election did not go his way, he said: “Take a little break, I think, then I’ll still be involved in the community. I’ll find a good board that’s a good fit for me, probably something more philanthropic than political.” He was also planning to focus more on his business, Teamwork Custom Art–and spend more time with his wife and daughter (he is married to Rebecca DeLorenzo, president of the Flagler Chamber of Commerce.)
In the run-off for the last Palm Coast City Council seat up for grabs, Nick Klufas was running five points ahead of Pam Richardson, a lead he was building on as additional precincts were counted.
Results in Flagler County also show Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Paul Renner easily winning re-election in what is turning into a Republican sweep in Flagler County.
Bexley will succeed Gail Wadsworth as clerk of court. “I already have the job as chief deputy,” Bexley said, a job he’s held seven years. “So it will be business as usual.”
A lopsided Republican advantage in voting anticipated the struggle the Democrats were facing in this election, with the experience of two-term Democratic Commissioner Barbara Revels or the longevity of six-term George Hanns, the longest-serving elected official in the county, counting for little in a county that has very steadily and heavily tilted right in the last eight years.
In the presidential race, Donald Trump easily took Flagler with close to 60 percent of the vote, and looked poised in returns by mid-evening to win the state–and the presidency. Florida supervisors of election, Flagler’s included, were doing an impressive job of sending in their results efficiently.
Florida approved Amendment 2, legalizing medical marijuana, with more than 70 percent of the vote in Flagler and across the state, and rejected Amendment 1, a solar power amendment the state’s utilities had financed.
[This is a developing story. More soon.]
General Election 2016 Results: Flagler County's Local Races, State Races and the Presidency
|Flagler School Board, District 5|
|Maria P. Barbosa||(28618)|
|Myra Middleton Valentine||(19260)|
|Flagler County Sheriff|
|Larry D. Jones||(21498)|
|Palm Coast City Council, District 3|
|Flagler County Commission, District 1|
|Charles F. Ericksen, Jr. (Incumbent)||(28709)|
|Flagler County Commission, District 3|
|Flagler County Commission, District 5|
|Congressional Representative, District 6>|
|State Senate, District 7|
|State Representative, District 24|
|Flagler Clerk of Court|
|East Flagler Mosquito Control 3|