Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Vulnerable House Seats in the Sunshine State: part 8

Florida is operating under a new map that was redrawn to right unconstitutional shenanigans in the previous map created by the state's Republican Congress.  The old map was taken to court and where the new map was mandated.  As a result, a handful of districts have become more competitive, and one district has become less in favor of the Republicans.  Ergo, in the aggregate the benefits falls in favor the Democratic Party.  Add to that the whole-sale alienation of 1) Black voters, 2) Latino voters, 3) Women voters, 4) Jewish voters, 5) Young voters, and 6) Immigrant voters and you've got a pretty likely scenario for down ticket advantage to the Democrats.

A) Florida's 2nd.  The present incumbent is Democrat Gwen Graham who benefitted from the previous map's concentration of African American voters in the northern counties that abut Georgia.  Without them, the new boundaries of the district favor Republicans and so the Republican Candidate, Neal Dunn is the likely winner by virtue of demographics.  Dunn is a Republican in the good old Tea Party mold.  His challenger is Democrat Walter Dartland who is a retired Deputy attorney general for the state beat out his primary challenger by 133 votes and will surely loose to Republican Dunn in the general election.

B) Florida's 7th.  The seventh has been redrawn to represent a more balanced demographic, and pits 2 term Republican incumbent, John Mica against Democratic challenger and political newbie, Staphanie Murphy.  Mica is fairly lack-luster member of congress who champions veterans and small business owners.  Murphy is well positioned to take on Mica on these issues as a former National Security Specialist and small business owner.  This is a very close race in a borderline district with a incumbent who has built up his war chest for just such a vibrant campaign.  Too close to call is my call.

C) Florida's 10th.  Currently held by Republican Daniel Webster (who only last year saw himself as a viable alternative candidate for Speaker of the House when John Boehner quit, now has chosen to quit himself after having his district redrawn to favor Democrats.  An open seat being contested by Val Demings for the Democrats and Thuy Lowe for the Republicans becomes that rarest of all political transitions, a seat held by a conservative white man suddenly becoming a contest between two minority women.  Lowe is immigrant from Vietnam who has thrice now run for Congress, each time unsuccessfully, and Demings is an African American former Police Chief of Orlando.  I give this one to Demings...after all, I would want to the Lowe's streak broken.

D) Florida's 13th  The incumbent in Florida's 13th district is Representative David Jolly, a first term Republican who has drawn one of the worst cards in the deck of House elections this season.  Between the tweeking of his district in the redrawing of the state's map and the decision of his opponent, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist to seek the seat for the Democrats--well, as the Bible story goes: The writing is on the wall--er, ballot--for this one.  Without any need to introduce him, Charlie Crist will add United States Representative for the House to his Resume in November.

E) Florida's 18th  This is a swing district presently held by Patrick Murphy who is now running for Florida Senate.  An open seat and here are the candidates: Hoping to retain the seat for the Democrats is Randy Perkins, and seeking to swing it back to the Republicans is Brian Mast.  Perkins is self-made small business owner who is running a grassroots populist campaign emphasizing social safety net, public option healthcare, and women's rights issues (he is also the father of 4 grown daughters...)  Mast is a double amputee (a fact he features in all of his campaign adds) Iraq war veteran who wants to repeal Obamacare, protect gun rights, privatize Veteran healthcare and re-militarize with an eye to escalate conflicts with Iran and Russia.  All I can say is that I sure hope Perkins wins.  I'm giving him the edge.

F) Florida's 26th  One term congressman, Republican Carlos Curbelo is facing a return fight with previous Democratic congressman Joe Garcia.  Garcia was famously derided for getting caught picking his nose on camera during a congressional hearing and lost a close race in a midterm election that favored Republicans everywhere.  Now the tables are turned.  Garcia keeps a hanky in his pocket, and the district's tweeking slid it in the direction of a more Democratic demographic.  I give this one back to Garcia--BUT there is a very interesting caveat.  With Marco Rubio running Senate and his seat of political power residing in areas of this district, his presence on the ballot could tip the needle in favor of Curbelo.  We'll see what matters more, support and redemption for a duplicitous former favorite son, OR the none stop insults and buffoonery against Latinos and minority voters by the Republican top of the ticket.

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