The swift tide against Democrats swept out the nation's only elected banking comptroller.
Gerald A. Lewis, Florida's powerful banking regulator, was upset by Republi| can challenger Bob Milligan.
The largely unknown retired Marine Corps lieutenant captured 50.9% of the vote compared to Mr. Lewis' 49.1%.
"We won," said Craig Kiser, a Tallahassee attorney and Milligan supporter. "It kept shifting all night. At one point Lewis was up by 12.000 votes. We were starting to get worried and we came back."
Neither Mr. Milligan nor Mr. Lewis could be reached for comment.
Mr. Lewis. who is also the state's chief fiscal officer and regulates businesses that included cemeteries, mortgage companies and brokerage firms, had been in the position since 1975 and was seeking an unprecedented sixth term.
But he had been criticized sharply for taking campaign funds from bank and thrift operators whose institutions eventually failed.
In 1990 Democrat Art Simon launched an effort to impeach Mr. Lewis for "gross negligence" in handling the state's banking and thrift crisis.