WILL BE UPDATED THROUGHOUT QUALIFYING WEEK
As candidate qualifying begins today, the big question is whether Florida Democrats have recruited some candidates that may be lying in the weeds waiting to file for some of the most important seats in the state. The week begins with almost twenty legislative districts where Barack Obama got over 45% of the two-party vote in 2008 without a Democratic candidate. Several other races where Obama got in excess of 45% lack a serious Democratic candidate.
The Republicans on the other hand, are reluctant to leave seats that are either open or where John McCain got in excess of 40% of the 2008 vote without opposition. While the Republican Party does not fund these candidates in highly Democratic districts, they at least field candidates and allow them access to the effective statewide and local GOP apparatus. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the Democrats routinely ran candidates and won districts where the Democratic Presidential vote was under 40% in the very same election.
Qualifying week never passes without surprises. Considering the new legislative districts are far more favorable to Democrats than those that were in affect for the past decade, their are fewer and fewer excuses for not fielding candidates in most races. Here is to hoping Florida’s Democrats have a few tricks up their sleeves to prevent another carnage in legislative elections this cycle.
The Political Hurricane Senate Race Ratings will return next week after qualifying is complete. Our House ratings will debut next week as well.
Updates after the jump
10:15 am EDT update Friday June 8th
Andy Gardiner has a Democratic opponent, Christopher Charles Pennington. It is good to see a Democrat in this district which while difficult for a Democrat particularly against Gardiner, is not a slam dunk GOP districtunless you take the recent FDP attitude that any district where GOP performance is over 51% and is outside southeast Florida is “not winnable.”
The Democrat running against Steve Precourt in a seat that is winnable by non FDP logic has still not qualified. Chances are now very good that Rep. Precourt will get a pass despite being in a district that John McCain carried by less than two percentage points in 2008.
3:15pm EDT update Thursday June 7th
Thanks to Ross Hancock, Democratic candidate in HD-114 for tipping me off that Ian Whitney has now officially qualified in HD-120. He will be the Democratic nominee against either Ron Saunders’ former aide Holly Merril Raschein or Morgan McPherson. Barack Obama and Alex Sink both carried this district.
2:30pm EDT update Thursday June 7th
We are told their are no plans to recruit and qualify a top tier Democratic challenger to Northern Palm Beach County Rep. Pat Rooney. The current Democratic challenger David Lurtin is not considered a serious candidate by most local political insiders. This is a seat that was carried by both Barack Obama and Alex Sink. The predecessor district (HD-83 in the 2002-2012 map) was the scene of two of the closest House races in state during the past three election cycles. The Democrats have focused on finding financially viable candidates in HD-89 and HD-93 but seem to have moved past trying to pick up a seat that performs better for Democrats than those two seats do. Should the Democrats sweep all three seats, their would be no resident Republican House members left in either the Broward or Palm Beach County delegations.
2:00pm EDT update Thursday June 7th
Many of the candidates and races we were concerned about up and down the I-4 corridor now have qualified Democrats. Still several more seats that merely lean Republican have no qualified Democrat. Still of concern is that Ian Whitney who fell six petition signatures short of automatic qualification in HD-120 has still not qualified. The Keys oriented seat was won by both Barack Obama and Alex Sink and is home to the current House Minority Leader, Ron Saunders.
9:00 am EDT update Thursday June 7th
Democratic first-time candidate Ross Hancock has qualified by petition for State House District 114 in Coral Gables, where he will challenge Republican incumbent Erik Fresen. Hancock, a Political Hurricane reader will compete in a seat where Barack Obama got over 48% of the two-party vote in 2008. So another good Democrat has filed in a marginally Republican district.
Shannon Roberts a potentially excellent Democratic candidate in the Brevard County based 8th Congressional District (formerly 15th) has qualified to challenge Bill Posey. Roberts has the perfect profile for the district- she is a former NASA official, the first the Democrats have run in this district since John Bryan in 1996.
Liz Alpert who previously ran for the State House in Hillsborough County has filed to run against Ray Pilon in the Sarasota based HD-72. The district was carried by Obama in 2008.
2:30 pm EDT update Wednesday June 6th
According to the Palm Beach Post, former Rep. Kevin Rader who had secured the endorsement of former Congressman Robert Wexler, current Congressman Ted Deutch has abandoned his race for Senate District 27 leaving Rep. Jeff Clemens and Rep. Mack Bernard to fight it out. Former Rep. Mary Brandenburg has also been rumored to run in this Senate seat. Rader is attempting to win back his old House seat challenging Freshman incumbent Rep. Steve Perman.
2:00 pm EDT update Wednesday June 6th
Anyone find it interesting that Jim Norman still hasn’t qualified for re-election to his Senate seat? The combination of ethics problems and former Rep. Rob Wallace & Rep. John Legg’s challenging him weighing on a possible decision to abort the race?
The filed Democrat in District 44 Lee Douglas still hasn’t qualified and did not have enough money in his bank account as of the last candidate filing to pay a qualifying fee. If he does not qualify, Republican incumbent Steve Precourt who has been drawn into a more Democratic district will get a pass. A familiar story in recent Florida legislative election history.
10:30 am EDT update Wednesday June 6th
Peter Schorsch reports Jack Latvala will stay in Northern Pinellas County filing for District 20. This means Jim Frishe will face Jeff Brandes in the Republican Primary in District 22. Both districts were carried by Barack Obama in the 2008 election, but Democrats are non-players in both races. Adam Smith at the St Petersburg Times has a great story on the Democrats continuing woes in Pinellas County.
More on Latvala’s decision from the St Pete Times Pulitzer Winning site PolitFact.
7:15pm EDT update Tuesday June 5th
Pamela Goodman, a very well connected local woman’s leader has filed in HD-89 (Palm Beach County) versus Republican Bill Hager. This is one of five seats won by Obama that entered the week without a Democratic candidate. The seat was carried by Rick Scott in the 2010 election.
It also appears according to the SP Times that Jack Latvala will run in SD 20 leaving Jim Frishe and Jeff Brandes to fight out a proxy war in SD 22. The Democrats are irrelevant in both elections even though Barack Obama carried both districts in 2008.
12:15 pm EDT update Tuesday June 5th
Carl Zimmerman’s decision to file again to challenge Peter Nehr in the re-0numbered 65th district (Northern Pinellas County) reduces the number of House districts where no Democrat has filed but Barack Obama got over 45% of the two-party vote to 19. This is addition to four Senate districts that fit the same description. Zimmerman has run for the seat on two previous occasions.
By contrast no State House seat where John McCain received over 45% of the two-party vote for President in 2008 is lacking a Republican who has filed.
9:30 am EDT update Tuesday June 5th
Ian Whitney, the lone Democrat filed in District 120 fell short of the required signatures to qualify for the ballot according to Saint Petersblog. Whitney can still pay the filing fee before Friday. Otherwise a district won by both Barack Obama and Alex Sink as well held by the current Democratic House leader, Ron Saunders, will flip to the GOP w/o opposition.
Also, Nancy Argenziano running as on the Independent Party line qualified to run for her old Crystal River based House seat which she represented as a moderate Republican from 1996 to 2002.
1:15 pm EDT update Monday June 4th
As of this moment, House District 36, House District 59, House District 72, House District 83, House District 89 all carried by Obama during his 2008 Presidential victory have no Democrat filed. This is addition to over a dozen House & Senate districts where Obama got over 45% of the two-party vote and their are no current Democrats filed.
12:15pm EDT update Monday June 4th
Peter Schorsch at Saint Petersblog is reporting Aaron Bosshardt, candidate for Florida House District 21, sent an email to campaign supporters alerting them he plans on turning in his paper immediately after the qualifying period opens. District 21 currently held by Freshman GOP Rep. Keith Perry is a seat that was carried both by Barack Obama and Alex Sink.