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Monday, October 27, 2008

Congressional Races Galore

As a student of Congressional politics (I've worked in Washington DC in the House and obsesses over the body so much that I have every Almanac of American Politics since it was first published in the early 1970s) Florida has been a boring place to be through the years. Since the past 1980 census redistricting, Florida has had close races here and there. The 1988 race where longtime incumbent Bill Chappell was knocked off, the 1994 open seat race for Jim Bacchus old seat and the 2000 Shaw/Bloom race. But for the most part, Florida has been a bore. Sitting in Florida election night working on localized races has meant watching the TV ticker or the computer to find out what trends were developing in Congressional races nationally. However, 2008 has changed that.

Florida is the battleground in the US House. Florida has become what Ohio, Pennsylvania and even in recent times Texas or Illinois has become: a test as to whether a congressional election is actually a wave election. For example in 1996, when Bill Clinton was re-elected he found himself embroiled in a campaign fund raising scandal which turned a potential Democratic rout, into a Republican year in everything but the Presidential race. (The Dems actually picked up House seats but almost all were against fluke GOP winners from two years earlier: almost every close race cut towards the GOP that year.) Now in 2008, Florida will test whether or not this is truly a wave election.

Here are the congressional races to watch in Florida:

  • Incumbent Republican Tom Feeney vs Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24)
Feeney drew his own district as State House Speaker in the 2000-2002 term which included redistricting. However, the district was always only marginally Republican. With the incumbent the sitting House meber most closely linked to Jack Abramoff, this should be a Democratic pickup in a year like this.
  • Incumbent Republican Ric Keller vs Alan Grayson (FL-8)
The Democrats should have picked up this seat in 2000, but did not. Keller has been a survivor and the district is more Republican than it was before redistricting now encompassing parts of Lake and Marion counties. Grayson can self finance and this should be a close race.
  • Incumbent Republican Vern Buchanan vs Christine Jennings (FL-13)
Buchanan was fortunate to beat Jennings in 2006 but he's performed well by all indications in this campaign and in his brief house tenure and should hang on in this Sarasota based district.

  • Incumbent Republican Lincoln Diaz Balart vs Raul Martinez (FL-21)
Martinez is the strongest possible challenger the Democrats could have fielded in this solid Republican district. Will Cuban-Americans bound to support Senator McCain split their tickets? Polling indicates enough may for Martinez to pull the upset.
  • Incumbent Republican Mario Diaz Balart vs Joe Garcia (FL-25)
If you are looking for a potential Freshman who could emerge as a Congressional Leader it is Joe Garcia who is already connected in Washington. However Diaz Balart could hang on here thanks to the portion of the district in Collier County. Still this district is on the whole less Republican than District 21.

1 comment:

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.

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