The 2018 midterm election is finally over. On Tuesday, the election results were certified.

The state lost a three-term Democratic U.S. senator. The state now has a Democratic Agriculture commissioner; District 27 residents who vote blue finally have blue leadership; voters said no to Carlos Curbelo, a centrist Republican, which essential means he stood for nothing. The state didn’t elect its bright star, Andrew Gillum for governor, nor did it pick Sean Shaw to be top cop. The residents of Florida should have.

During this election season, we learned so many lessons and relearned a few. Here’s a big one: Once you are a Black candidate, you have to try harder than everyone else; you have to better than everyone else. Gillum in his historic run to be Florida’s first Black Governor showed that he understood that mantra. He did try harder. He talked to rooms with 10 people or a 1,000. He went everywhere and he stood by his message. Sure Gillum won Miami-Dade, but he needed more.

Gillum needed all 200,000 registered Miami-Dade Black Democratic voters’ support and most importantly, their votes. And since we know there are efforts to stifle your vote or not count it at all, twice as many people will have to go to the polls to reach the goal – really go to the polls.

By the end of October, Democrats were outvoting Republicans 44 percent to 35 percent in early and mail-in ballots. The shenanigans of the recount revealed that election officials will have to plan to count every ballot. It appears some didn’t really plan on counting every vote until the margins were so razor-thin in some races, it was unavoidable. So, you have to try harder. Just as Gillum was better you have to be better.

Educate yourself on what it means to vote in a closed primary state such as Florida. If you are registered as an independent you can’t make a party choice in the primary election. And when they poll to see how the candidates are doing, no one knows how the independents are going to vote, so that makes it harder to predict how the race is really going.

Pick a side and fight for it.

It is clear that the Democratic Party still needs to be strengthened though it has shown that it can run candidates to win important seats. But the two Black candidates at the top of the ticket went high but came up short. That’s still cause for concern.

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