The seat in District 40 was previously occupied by a Republican and many Democratic operatives viewed the race as a likely toss-up or potential loss in the days leading up to the election. The Democratic Party of Florida requested that Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, postpone the election for two weeks due to the impact of Hurricane Irma. After that request was denied, there was some concern that the lingering damage could impact the vote.
While the win itself was not overwhelming in its margin, and the district went 58-40 for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, it’s the seventh seat that Democrats have flipped nationally this year—compared to zero for Republicans. And down ballot, Republicans typically do well in the Miami-area district.
The circumstances surrounding the race, and the players involved, are also about as Florida as Florida gets. The special election was held as a result of the resignation of Republican State Senator Frank Artiles, who left in disgrace in the spring after dropping the “N” word in front of two African-American colleagues.
What’s more, like Clinton’s campaign, Taddeo was similarly hacked by Russians in 2016.
The 50-year-old businesswoman, who recently got the endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden, attempted to tie her opponent, state Rep. Jose Felix "Pepi" Diaz, to President Trump. This was made all the more easy by the fact that Diaz was quite literally fired from The Apprentice.
“This crucial win tonight is a great representation of Democrats’ winning momentum and increased engagement in the Trump era,” Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Jessica Post said in a statement.
Observers who were slightly skeptical of Taddeo’s chances to pull it off were happily surprised nonetheless.
“I mean, expecting the unexpected is kind of the defining aspect of this election cycle, if there's one to be had at all,” Carolyn Fiddler, political editor and senior communications adviser for the liberal Daily Kos told The Daily Beast.
“On top of Democrats doing really, really well, of course.”