BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - It's over. Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti has been beaten by Democratic opponent Scott Israel by a 53-47 margin.
But Lamberti hasn't conceded to Israel -- and don't hold your breath for it. "In 2008, Israel didn't concede to the sheriff or call him," said Lamberti campaign manager Danielle DiNicola. "It's a sad night for Broward County."
Lamberti did post this farewell to his Facebook page, a public concession of sorts:
For all my friends and family who poured out their hearts and souls during this election I want to thank you. I have spent the last 35 years of my life at the Broward Sheriffs office serving the people of Broward County. It has been my honor and privilege to serve you. I have witnessed many positive accomplishments and milestones at BSO and I will always be proud of the ...BSO family. Thank you again for all your hard work and support. My thoughts and prayers will always be with all of you and my BSO family. May God Bless each of you in the years to come. Thank you again for your loyalty. "Pride in Service with Integrity."
There were a lot of factors that went into Lamberti's loss. He may have made a tactical mistake by failing to engage in debates with Israel (including one for the NAACP and one here at Local 10 with Michael Putney). Lamberti truly dislikes Israel, to the point that for months he refused to stand in the same room with him. That aloofness may have hurt him, especially after he snubbed the NAACP.
Bigger than that, though, was an eleventh-hour infusion of shadowy PAC money that poured into Israel's race. That allowed Israel to slam Lamberti with negative ads on television.
But in the end, Israel should be thanking Barack Obama for his new job. And, the fact that Lamberti didn't switch from Republican to Democrat after he pulled off the victory in 2008. Obama's audacious performance in South Florida is one for the history books and Israel rode those coattails more effectively this time around. Before the counting started, Democratic consultant Dan Lewis said the key to an Obama victory in Florida was a 250,000 net vote gain for him in Broward. Obama beat that mark by a few thousand, landing 484,778 of the 720,663 votes cast.
The Obama campaign crushed the Broward margin of victory from 2008. And it wasn't just Broward. In Miami-Dade, Obama landed 62 percent of the votes adding four points to the 2008 margin. The Cuban Republican voice was muffled in this one (thanks to the third generation?).
Those astounding numbers -- deeply disturbing numbers for the GOP -- did more than buoy Obama to a likely victory in Florida. It had a huge down ballot effect, helping Democrats like Lois Frankel, Maria Sachs, and Israel to whip their opponents, too.
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