Feb. 14 (UPI) — Democrat Margaret Good upset a Republican favorite in a special election Tuesday, marking the 36th state-level seat Democrats have flipped since President Donald Trump took office — a trend that could impact national midterm elections in the fall.
Republican James Buchanan, the son of Congressman Vern Buchanan, fell short with voters by a 52-45 percent margin to represent Florida House District 72.
Traditionally, the Sarasota-area district is considered Republican territory — with nearly 13,000 more GOP voters than Democratic voters.
Trump won most of the votes in District 72 in the 2016 presidential election.
“This win shows us that Floridians are rejecting the same tired rhetoric we saw with Donald Trump’s campaign, which was the same rhetoric Buchanan used to try and win,” the Florida Democratic Party said in a statement. “This is a referendum on Trump and the GOP.”
Republicans concerned about the trend include former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager David Bossie, who campaigned for Buchanan last weekend and led a Sunday rally to help push for the GOP win.
“The Democrats are highly motivated,” Lewandowski said at the rally. “They are winning elections in places where they shouldn’t … 50 seats have already changed hands from the Republicans to the Democrats since Donald Trump was elected. That should be concerning for us.”
Democratic success in traditionally Republican districts, however, has still yet to materialize in national races. Special elections for the U.S> House last year didn’t see any Democrat unseat a GOP contender, although some of the races were far closer than expected.
In Georgia, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff nearly won the seat vacated by former Health Secretary Tom Price outright, but failed to reach the 50 percent-threshold in the vote. He was beaten by Republican Karen Handel in a runoff.
Democrats did pick up a Senate seat, though, with Doug Jones upsetting Roy Moore for the seat vacated by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.