NATIONAL ELECTION RETURNS : EDITION-TIME COMPILATIONS : State-by-State Election Reports of Key Races and Issues : Florida
Democrat Gov. Bob Graham ousted incumbent Republican Sen. Paula Hawkins, and Republican Bob Martinez was leading Democrat Steve Pajcic in the governor’s race in early returns.
Graham had an overwhelming 59-41% bulge over Hawkins with 21% of the vote counted and Martinez, the former mayor of Tampa, was leading 56-44% with 19% of the votes tabulated.
Graham portrayed himself as a pragmatic Democrat who had few quarrels with President Reagan. Hawkins, only the state’s second GOP senator since Reconstruction, said a Graham victory could help “tax-and-spend liberals” retake the Senate and hurt Reagan programs.
Hawkins’ ability to campaign was called into question last April, when she underwent surgery following a recurrence of serious back injuries suffered in 1982, when a set backdrop fell on her at a television studio. But she rebounded from the surgery to conduct an active and aggressive campaign.
Hawkins, 59, pointed to her early roles in anti-drug, missing children and abused children legislation. Graham, 49, called her a cheerleader for causes no one opposed and said the nation’s fastest-growing state, with nearly 12 million residents, needed to get its special interests on the national agenda.
Martinez represented the Republicans’ best hope of winning the governor’s mansion since Claude Kirk was elected in 1966.