By Jeremy Wallace, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Wednesday, August 27, 2014
It was a tale of two elections in the House District 74 election.
Venice doctor Julio Gonzalez defeated Richard DeNapoli on Tuesday night, winning 57 percent of the vote in the most hotly contested Republican Primary in the region.
But it wasn’t as one-sided as the results show.
Election results show DeNapoli beat Gonzalez in the absentee voting that started at the end of July. DeNapoli was winning 53.2 percent of the absentee ballots.
DeNapoli prided himself on getting out and going door to door months before Gonzalez went out in full force. DeNapoli’s aggressive early campaign with Gonzalez’s campaigns slow ramp up likely contributed to that results.
But Gonzalez erased most of the gap in early voting that started Aug. 16. When polls opened on Tuesday and after weeks of television ads and mailers, Gonzalez was up, but he and DeNapoli were separated by just 138 votes.
Then everything changed.
Gonzalez won nearly two out of every three Republican voters on Election Day. That 138 vote margin ballooned to almost 2,000.
Undoubtedly, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will get a lot of credit for Gonzalez rebound. Rubio cut a television commercial supporting Gonzalez that was airing non-stop in the closing days of the election to help drive turnout.
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by Jeremy Wallace, Sarasota Herald Tribune, August 26th, 2014
…The two candidates [DeNapoli and Gonzalez] combined to spend more than $660,000 in their battle to win a two-year term that pays just over $30,000 a year. In addition, political groups poured in at least another $900,000, for a combined $1.5 million used primarily on attacking ads on TV, in mailers and on the Internet. …
Gonzalez benefitted from a strong endorsement from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican, down the stretch. Rubio made television ads that blanketed Sarasota in an effort to help Gonzalez.
“I am forever indebted to him,” Gonzalez said.
DeNapoli, who called Gonzalez to concede and endorse him, said he had no regrets. He said he didn’t have the money to overcome the outside political committees that helped Gonzalez.
The Florida Medical Association alone spent more than $375,000 through a pair of political action committees to run ads against DeNapoli. …
by Jeremy Wallace, Sarasota Herald Tribune, August 27th, 2014
…in the state House District 74 primary battle between Republicans Julio Gonzalez and Richard DeNapoli, voters in Venice and North Port took opposing approaches.
DeNapoli won in North Port with 51 percent of the vote. But Venice favored Gonzalez, with 64 percent of the vote.
Because turnout was much higher in Venice, Gonzalez won the seat, despite losing North Port, the county’s largest city.
…DeNapoli and [Shannon] Snyder [a County Commission candidate] showed that while North Port can break differently than other parts of the county, winning there is not yet enough to build a victorious campaign because of how much lower voter turnout is there compared to areas like Venice.
Though North Port has 59,000 residents, only about 5,800 voted Tuesday, even though it had two big City Commission races, three School Board races and a premier state House race on the ballot. In Venice, which has 21,000 residents, almost 3,800 voters turned out.
[Republican Party County Chairman Joe] Gruters said if North Port residents took advantage of their potential political power, they could dominate county politics.
From “Gonzalez Clinches House District 74 Seat”
By Steve Reilly, North Port Sun, August 27th, 2014
…Gonzalez said he was pleased DeNapoli had called to congratulate him.
“He was very cordial and gracious and he wished me a lot of success and I’m very grateful that he called and expressed his well wishes,” he said.