Hours before the final ballots were tallied, Gerald Lewis, the nation's only elected banking comptroller, gathered with friends and family in anticipation of kicking off yet another victory party in his honor.

The powerful Florida regulator appeared to be rolling to a sixth straight term. Leading up to election eve, he had been well ahead in the polls -- seemingly untouched by charges that he illegally accepted gifts from bankers and snoozed through the state's worst banking crisis.

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