ENGLEWOOD — As party officials and local leaders reflect on Tuesday’s election results, responses range from disappointed to vigilant to defiant.
Randy McLendon, founder of Taking Our Country Back, said he was deeply disappointed with the results of Tuesday’s election, and it’s a much more divided nation than originally thought.
Rita Ferrandino, chairwoman of the Sarasota County Democratic Party, said she is pleased with voter turnout, especially with early voting, but furious by Florida’s inability to get its vote counted.
“It’s amazing that people can view the same situation so differently,” McLendon said. “It’s not going to be good financially for us. I don’t see a middle ground here. We may have to take a different approach on things. We can’t let this country be destroyed.”
Joe Gruters, the Sarasota County Republican Party chairman, said he is pleased about the party’s performance at the local level.
“We increased our base,” Gruters said. “We increased the margin of victory at the top of the ticket. We knocked off the countrywide elected Democrat and swept all local races.”
Gruters said the local Republican party had some of the best activist volunteers and donors in the country.
“Even though we’re excited about the local level, we’re very disappointed with the results at the national level and at the state level,” Gruters said. “We were fully expecting a victory by Mitt Romney and obviously, this tanks any success we had locally.”
President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney Tuesday by 303 electoral votes to 206, respectively, without Florida’s 29 factored in.
“We’re going to have to come back, regroup and refocus ourselves and get ready for the next election,” Gruters said. “I think we’ll come back stronger as a result.”
Gruters said a primary factor of Obama’s victory may have had something to do with the 2010 election of three controversial state governors and their policy changes — Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, and Rick Scott in Florida.
“Even though we’re a party, we want the country to improve regardless,” Gruters said.
Republicans are not beyond compromise, Gruters said, alluding to efforts with Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled House that he said produced some of the best laws in the last 20 years.
“We can pass things that are good for the country,” Gruters said. “Our goal is not domination. It is putting forth and really implementing our core principles of less taxes, less regulation and personal responsibility.”
Ferrandino with the Sarasota County Democratic Party said she is pleased with voter turnout and early voting.
“Locally, we had a very successful campaign to get people to vote by mail, and we increased the number of people who voted by mail,” she said. “We had an unprecedented return rate of over 86 percent. When (Gov.) Scott reduced the early voting (days) from 14 to eight, we saw a serious challenge because local Democrats tend to be working-class. Election day is always the most difficult day for them to vote, which is why we put such an effort in early voting.”
Ferrandino said the next step is to fire Scott. She blames the governor for Florida not being accounted for during election day.
“I think Florida should be embarrassed for its inability to vote, and I think the votersuppression laws in place by this governor have deeply backfired, because, once again, Florida was in the limelight for its inability to vote,” Ferrandino said. “I think it’s embarrassing that we had seven- to nine-hour lines for Americans to cast their ballot. That’s just a disgrace and it’s unconscionable.”