(The Center Square) – Florida Republicans began the 2020 election cycle with a 23-17 majority in the state Senate, and they likely will enter the 2021 legislative session with that same advantage.

Twenty of the Senate’s 40 seats were on Tuesday’s ballot, and the makeup of the chamber will remain unchanged unless Republican challenger Ileana Garcia defeats incumbent Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez after a recount in their Senate District 37 battle in Miami-Dade County.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Garcia had a 21-vote lead out of 215,411 ballots cast – 48.53% to 48.52% – over Rodriguez, one of the Senate’s most outspoken and respected Democrats.https://bdc43b0572e76c04823eb9844161459d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Garcia, who served as deputy press secretary at the Department of Homeland Security under President Donald Trump and is the founder of Latinas For Trump, benefitted from a record Republican turnout in Miami-Dade County orchestrated by the Cuban community, while Democrats failed to fully mobilize anticipated votes from south Florida’s blue precincts.

Those two factors essentially gave Donald Trump Florida’s 29 electoral votes in a 3% statewide victory and cost Democrats two Miami-Dade congressional seats, two Democratic-held Miami-area seats in the state House and, possibly, one blue seat in the still-red state Senate.

Overall, Republicans flipped five House seats and will head into the 2021 legislative session with at least a 78-42 advantage in the lower chamber and a 23-17 or 24-16 Senate advantage, depending how the Garcia-Rodriguez race in District 37 goes.

More than 11 million Floridians cast ballots in Tuesday’s elections, with turnout early Wednesday estimated by the Florida Division of Elections (FDOE) to be 77%.

If Rodriguez falls, he will be the only incumbent senator from either party to not be reelected. The most-contested Senate races Tuesday featured spirited, but failed, attempts to unseat incumbents or dominant party candidates in “purple districts.”

Democrats targeted Senate Districts 9, 20 and 39 as GOP-controlled seats they could flip in 2020. Republicans won all three.

In addition to Senate District 37, Republicans identified Senate Districts 3 and 29 as potentially vulnerable Democrat-held seats. Other than District 37, Democrats fended off the GOP challengers. Among prominent Senate results

This article was initially published at TheCenterSquare

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