A funny thing happened on the way to the Florida primaries. A federal court stepped in and invalidated the state’s 2010 redistricting of congressional districts. The legislature, which is in recess, was recently ordered back into session by the court. So once again we have federal courts meddling in the political processes in Florida. Since it is so close to the primary and since any changes required may actually have little practical effect this year, I am assuming the districts as they exist now will be the ones that will be come November.
For Governor, the once besieged Rick Scott has been nothing short of a political renaissance. His tenure was on life support as recently as a year ago, but he appears poised for a primary win over his two opponents- Yinka Adeshina and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder. On the Democratic side, the presumptive winner will be ex-Republican Governor Charlie Crist, although he has his own primary challenge in Nan Rich. Regardless, this writer believes that Rick Scott received a bad rap for his efforts in his first term and that he is the best choice this year.
In the northwestern-based 1st District, Jeff Miller has held this seat since 2001 and has never fallen below 66% of the vote in a very Republican district. He is opposed by businessman John Krause who is running on an anti-incumbent theme. Krause appears sincere enough, but the question is whether the voters of the 1st District are willing to jettison Miller. Perhaps the one issue that should give anyone pause is Miller’s somewhat at-times vague stance on immigration. Krause has recently hit on that theme in his campaign noting Miller’s support of the ENLIST Act. Still, although there is no downside to supporting Krause (the Democratic opponent will be frequent candidate Jim Bryan), this writer does not believe there is enough in Jeff Miller’s record to discredit him from another term. Therefore, the nod goes to Jeff Miller.
The Third District encompasses a large portion of northern Florida. After redistricting, Yoho defeated Cliff Stearns in the 2012 GOP primary and then trounced his Democratic opponent. This year, Yoho is opposed by Jake Rush in the primary and the campaign has been interesting. Rush recently aired an ad which violated an unwritten rule in politics when he questioned a job Yoho’s son received on Capitol Hill. The Yoho campaign responded by highlighting Rush’s vampire role playing tendencies. This is just too weird for someone sitting in New Jersey. Ted Yoho- enough said.
In the northeastern, Jacksonville-based Fourth District, Ander Crenshaw- the GOP incumbent- will take on Ryman Shoaf in the primary. Crenshaw has been down this road before where his toughest electoral competition has generally come from his own party. Shoaf is not necessarily running to the right of Crenshaw, like others attempted in the past, but he is portraying him as not following the Constitution and pointing out Crenshaw’s below average rating by Heritage Action. This district is reliably Republican with no Democrat even declaring in the district. It is pork that keeps Crenshaw in office via his position on the House Appropriations Committee, especially the Defense Subcommittee. This is what Shoaf is pointing out. Given little downside, this writer supports Ryman Shoaf.
The Fifth is perhaps one of the most bizarre looking districts in the country, let alone Florida. It is represented by Democrat Corrine Brown, a decided liberal. Republicans have little chance of taking this district, although it is one that is at the heart of the court-ordered redistricting mandate. Thuy Lowe will face Glo Smith in the GOP primary. No matter what, a female will represent this district come November. If nothing else, this race indicates that there are conservative, Republican, qualified black and/or Asian females out there. Simply based on background information, this writer is going with Glorothea Smith.
John Mica, the GOP incumbent in the 7th District, has held this seat since 1993. This is one of those demographically changing districts near Orlando that may within 10 years become Democratic-held. He will be opposed in the primary by Don Oehrlich, Kelly Shirley, and David Smith. Oehrlich has recently run ads comparing career politicians (without naming names- Mica) with dirty diapers. The question is whether the voters of the 7th District want to maintain the status quo or go with someone new. Mica has recently never garnered less than 59% of the vote in the general election. I’ll go with the electoral record and John Mica this time out.
Three Republicans have lined up to take on Democratic incumbent, the repugnant Alan Grayson, in Florida’s 9th Congressional District. They are: Jorge Bonilla, Carol Platt and Peter Vivaldi. Nothing would please this writer more than to see Grayson retired…again. Actually there is one other thing- read on. Grayson has an uncanny tendency to say incendiary things like equating the Tea Party with the KKK. But in many ways, he is your typical ignorant Leftist. This is a district where demographics may play a role. No offense to Platt or Vivaldi, but this writer believes the best chance to beat Grayson lies with Jorge Bonilla. As long as Grayson continues to be Grayson, that should make the task easier.
Another possible Sunshine State pick-up seat for the GOP is the 18th district where incumbent Democrat Patrick Murphy defeated Allen West in 2012 by about 2,000 votes of 301,000 cast. Based in south Florida, Cook rates it +3 Republican making it a target of the GOP. Six Republicans are on the ballot for the primary. This is a district ripe for the taking. The Democrats know that also. Like most congressional races, general election hypothetical polling is scant. Where it exists, it points to a Murphy victory. Like most congressional races also, this one may come down to a local issue- the All Aboard Florida private passenger train proposed project from Orlando to Miami that is opposed by many in the 18th District. Looking at electability and fundraising since this will likely be an expensive race, this writer is going with former state representative Carl Domino.
Florida’s 22nd District is represented by Democrat Lois Frankel. The Republicans running in the primary are artist Andrea Leigh McGee, financial planner Paul Spain, and construction contractor David Wagie. Well, at least they aren’t career politicians. Frankel is considered a moderate in a district rated +4 Democratic by Cook. McGee describes herself as a fiscal conservative and social libertarian. Paul Spain has received the endorsement of Dick Morris. David Wagie is perhaps the most specific in his policy proposals. This is really a tough one, but this writer is going with David Wagie.
In the 23rd, possibly more than Grayson, this writer would love to see Debbie Wasserman-Schultz retired. Simply, she is the most annoying human being ever to come out of Florida. Having made inroads with the growing Hispanic community of the district, Juan Eliel Garcia would seem like a good candidate to run against the Democrat. The 23rd is 38% Hispanic and this is an upwardly mobile district. He will be opposed by Joe Kaufman who lost the 2012 primary. The best Republican candidate to at least throw an electoral scare into DWS would be Garcia. Kaufman would make the race entertaining. I want DWS out and the best chance lies with Juan Garcia.
Finally, the far southern 26th District- rated +4 Republican by Cook- is held by Democrat Joe Garcia. Thus far, scandal has plagued Garcia’s reelection efforts opening a wider opportunity for the GOP. This district is 69% Hispanic so it would stand to reason that an Hispanic Republican would make the most sense. That eliminates Ed McDougall and leaves three candidates. Carlos Curbelo has received the backing of the NRCC. In effect, he is the establishment choice. Joe Martinez and Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck are generally mentioned as also-rans. Unlike other southern states, Florida does not have a run-off. Another consideration here is the presence of David Rivera on the ballot- he also plagued by scandal- although he has suspended his campaign. However, some operatives in south Florida are charging he is running a stealth campaign which has led to allegations that McDougall is actually behind this to split votes so he can sneak through. This is an intriguing primary with what is shaping up to be an intriguing general election campaign. This writer is going with Carlos Curbelo because he is probably the best chance the GOP has of taking this seat.