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The Year In Florida Politics

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - If there was one word to describe Florida's year in politics that word would be expensive.

The Governor's race between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist was the costliest in the country - with nearly $100 million spent - most of it on negative TV ads.

CLICK HERE To Watch Jim DeFede's Report 

But in reality all anyone is going to remember from the election is the controversy over a fan. For several minutes neither Crist nor Scott appeared on stage for the televised debate hosted by CBS4 News. The issue: Charlie Crist's desire to have a small fan blow cool air up his leg.

Scott said such a breeze was against the rules. Crist said it wasn't.

Ultimately, Fan-gate blew over. And in November, Rick Scott beat Charlie Crist by just 64,000 votes.

It was a stunning and emotional victory for Scott.

"Of course I can't forget about my mom," Scott said on election night. "She passed away, but we wouldn't be here without my mom and I want to thank her for everything but I won't talk a lot because i would probably get too emotional."

For Crist - the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat - the loss may well mark the end of his political career.

"I will never forget you, I will always be indebted to you, you are the most wonderful friends a person could ever hope for," he said. "God bless you all and God bless our beautiful Florida."

More than $14 million was spent on the Congressional race between incumbent Joe Garcia and his Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo

Curbelo's victory may be short-lived. Democrats already have their sights set on winning the seat back. For now, though, Curbelo is focused.

"We need to reform the government, we need an economy that will grow and benefit everyone, not just some people at the top," he said. "And I'm going to DC to fight for tax reform, to fight for immigration reform and to fight for other government reforms that will help us all do better."

Garcia said he's not done with politics

"I will never be done with South Florida," he said. "There is always a roll for a citizen to play in a democracy."

It was also a big year for mayor's to be on trial.

Former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina and his wife were acquitted on tax evasion and Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi was found not guilty of taking bribes.

But there was no happy ending for North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau and Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman - each were convicted in separate cases.

Sweetwater Mayor Manny Morono skipped a trial altogether, plead guilty and went to prison start a three year prison term.

And in Broward former School Board member Stephanie Kraft was convicted this year of official misconduct.

On a more positive note, Broward County Commissioners selected a new mayor - Tim Ryan.

This year the Miami-Dade County Commission took a clear shift to the left, with the election of liberal Daniella Levine Cava.

The county commission also saw the appointment of Jean Monestine, as its first Haitian-American chairman.

And of course the biggest political story of the year was Jeb Bush's decision to actively explore a run for the White House in in 2016. And let's not forget Marco Rubio - he's also keeping his options open. Which should make next year very interesting to watch.


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