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Special Election for Senate District 8- THRASHER WINS!

September 15, 2009

Former Speaker of the Florida House John Thrasher has won the special primary election in Senate District 8 with 39% of the vote.  This is a huge victory for Florida’s business community and a very bad day indeed for the trial lawyers.  It’s also a huge win for Republican leadership, who took sides in this Republican primary and threw all of their support behind Thrasher. 

This special election reminded us just how dirty campaigning can get when you have the trial lawyers pitted against the business community.   There have been allegations of racial mailers, surveillance videos, and threats of investigation to name a few happenings.  Voters were inundated with mail pieces on a daily basis and negative TV ads took over the air waves.  And millions of dollars by both sides have been spent, despite a down economy.   

The candidates in this special election represented the business community v. the trial lawyers.  Former Speaker and now Senator-Elect Thrasher has been an adamant supporter of Florida’s businesses throughout the years. During his tenure as Speaker he led the effort for tort reform in the Florida House, and he has an AIF historical voting record of 91%.  In the private sector, he represented many of Florida’s distinguished businesses, and was a member of AIF’s lobbying team advocating for AIF’s issues on a daily basis.  In 2005-06 he led AIF’s effort on tort reform, in which ultimately nine tort bills passed during the legislative session, an incredible feat for Florida’s business community.  The trial lawyers wanted anyone to win but him, because Thrasher will quickly rise to a leadership position in the Florida Senate. 

Newcomer Dan Quiggle, a Ponte Vedra businessman, who is said to be as conservative as Thrasher in his views, was the frontrunner in this race for a while.  However as Election Day neared, it was rumored that he received support from the trial lawyers.  That may have happened inadvertently since the trial lawyers only had one person in the fight to attack that it opened the door for Quiggle.  During the midst of this, Quiggle rose to the top and led in the polls, only to see his lead in the race dwindle amongst the rumored trial lawyer support and as conservatives such as former Governor Jeb Bush appeared in TV ads for Thrasher. 

Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham, who might have been a good candidate if it weren’t for a special election, couldn’t win in an election that was mainly focused on Thrasher v. Quiggle. Former Representative Stan Jordan jumped into the race at the last minute and was slated the “trial lawyer candidate.”  It was a little too late though to help him win.  In order to run for the Senate seat, he had to resign from his Duval County School Board seat that he just won in November 2008.

District 8 is a “Strong Republican” seat and represents portions of Duval, Flagler, Nassau, St. Johns and Volusia Counties.    

State Senator District: 8
  Art Graham Stan Jordan Dan Quiggle John Thrasher
Total 5,636 5,649 9,201 13,247
% Votes 16.7% 16.7% 27.3% 39.3%

Barney T. Bishop III, Associated Industries of Florida President and CEO
Regarding John Thrasher Victory & Florida Justice Association Threats

Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) congratulates John Thrasher on winning the Republican primary for the District 8 Senate seat. Former Speaker Thrasher has been and will continue to be a strong champion for Florida businesses. As a seasoned lawmaker and policy expert, Florida can count on him to fully understand the issues affecting the businesses of our state.

AIF, along with the business community, stands ready to support John’s successful election to the Senate despite the ‘battles’ threatened by trial lawyers. And, with his election, I predict the dawn of a new movement in the Senate as more business-friendly members make their way to the Capitol.

The Florida Justice Association thought they could buy this election, but thankfully their backhanded tactics did not succeed. Elections are not won through negative attacks and derogatory statements. Despite a nasty smear campaign by a special interest group that claims to be ‘on the side of consumers,’ John is one step closer to a Senate seat where he will work to reinstate economic prosperity to our state and spearhead issues of importance to Florida’s employers and employees.”