With the hand recount completed in the Hillsborough County Senate District 18 contest, former Democratic Florida House Minority Leader Janet Cruz is declaring herself the winner in her hard-fought battle against Republican incumbent Dana Young.
With only overseas and military ballots yet to be counted, Cruz leads Young by 376 votes, a margin of .17%.
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer tells the Tampa Bay Times that he doesn’t believe those added ballots will be enough to change the outcome.
“I am eager to start the work ahead in the state Senate,” Cruz said in a statement.
The race was one of five state Senate seats that Democrats had hoped to flip from red to blue to try to accomplish something they haven’t had in more than two decades in Tallahassee – control of one branch of the Florida Legislature.
It didn’t work out that way, however, with Cruz’s narrow-thin margin victory being the sole race the Democrats captured. Going into the election, Republicans controlled 23 of the 40 state Senate seats. After the election, the state Senate has 23 Republicans
and 17 Democrats.
The Cruz-Young contest was the most expensive state Senate race this election cycle in Florida, with Republican Young taking in nearly three times as many financial contributions as Democrat Cruz. Young spent more than $4.4 million between her regular campaign account and political committee, while Cruz spent more than $1.5 million between her two accounts.
Both women have represented parts of Tampa since 2010.
By Mitch Perry