Florida House Race Ratings – June 20

With qualifying complete and picture for the State House clearer, we publish our inaugural State House ratings.

In the interest of full disclosure both Dave Trotter and myself are involved as consultants in the House District 42 race, and thus will not be rating the race. The district was carried by John McCain by a few hundred votes in 2008 and is a great Democratic pickup opportunity. Donna Hart lost a similar district to Frank Attkisson by a few hundred votes the last time the Democrats made a concerted effort to win the area in 2000. Democrats also have a double-digit registration advantage in the district. However, to properly maintain our objectivity that race will not be included in our ratings. Additionally, there are several Democratic primaries I am involved with in the southeast part of the state and those races are being rated simply for general election potential. We will not make endorsements in those particular races on this website.

While each district either lists an incumbent or is open, that does not necessarily mean we are predicting the incumbent will win his/her respective party nomination for the fall election. We are just listing incumbents, but in some cases, incumbent Republicans are in very tough re-nomination fights.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most intriguing races in the state:

House District 7

This rural Big Bend/Eastern Panhandle seat is a showdown between the parties. Candidates of both parties and each region of the district have flooded into the race that contains three Republicans (including former Democratic Rep. Jamey Westbrook who lost his seat when he was indicted on charges which were eventually dropped) and three Democrats. John McCain won by 26 points in 2008 here, but the continued Florida GOP attacks on state workers meant Rick Scott barely won the area in 2010. Our sense is that Scott is not popular in this rural district and a moderate to conservative Democrat could win the area in a tight race.

House District 21

Incumbent Republican Keith Perry has been drawn into a radically different and more Democratic seat than he was elected in two years ago. The Western part of Alachua County is more Democratic than it was ten years ago and with Marion County out of this district it is a great pickup opportunity for the Democrats.

House District 27

Like most Volusia County oriented districts, this one performed far better for Democrats at the top of the ticket in a Presidential year (Obama + 6) than in the off cycle (Scott +3 ). Former Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder is the Democratic nominee here. Mulder’s mayoral tenure was rocky at times but he is a seasoned campaigned at just 32. The Republicans will have a primary here between two candidates.

House District 30

Republican Rep. Scott Plakon puts his conservative rhetoric and voting record to the test in this Democratic leaning district against Karen Castor-Dentel. Castor is the third child of Former USF President and Commissioner of Education Betty Castor to seek elective officer. Her sister Kathy Castor is the Democratic Congresswoman from Tampa, while her brother Frank Castor is a Palm Beach County Judge.  This seat was won by both Barack Obama and Alex Sink.

House District 34

Incumbent Republican Jimmie Smith will face off against former Senator and Representative Nancy Argenziano, running on the line of the Independent Party. Argenziano  left the GOP and intended to register as an NPA which would have allowed her to re-register as a Democrat and seek a Congressional seat. The Democrats have fielded two candidates here and the nominee could benefit from a potential GOP vote split or could be irrelevant if the majority of local Dems pile behind Argenziano.

House District 47

The Winter Park based 47th features a showdown between former Republican Rep.  and DBPR Secretary Bob Brooks (who has never represented this particular area) and Democratic activist Linda Stewart. This district is less Democratic than the forerunner district the 36th which Scott Randolph has vacated. Yet, both Barack Obama and Alex Sink carried this district.

House District 63

Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison faces the fight of his life in this Lutz area seat which has been redrawn to favor Democrats. Mark Danish is the favorite to gain the Democratic nomination and thus has an excellent chance of being elected in November.

Pinellas County Seats

We list Districts 67, 68, and 69 all as toss up seats. The forerunners of all three seats have been classic swing areas during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. For example District 51 and 52  (areas dispersed now among 67, 68, and 69) both flipped in 1998 from D to R, back to D in 2006 and back to R in 2010. In between each seat had some remarkably close near misses for the opposition party. On paper, District 67 is the most Democratic of the seats but is the one of the three that has a current GOP incumbent (Ed Hooper) running. All three districts were carried by both Barack Obama and Alex Sink.

The comeback attempt of Rep. Frank Farkas in District 68 is making news. Farkas was a fairly conservative Republican in his eight years of House service (1998 to 2006) but in today’s Florida GOP he is most certainly a centrist who faces a contested primary. Dwight Dudley, a potentially strong Democrat is running unopposed here.

District 69 is less Democratic than its predecessor seat, HD-53 but it is also open and has not elected a Republican since the 1980s. This has been the only Tampa Bay area  non-minority opportunity seat  that has stayed in Democratic hands consecutively for over two decades.

House District 72

Incumbent Republican Ray Pilon is sitting in another seat that has flipped between the parties over the past two decades. In this Sarasota based district the Democrats won the seat in 1992, barely lost it in 2000, won it back in 2006 and lost it in 2010. The Democratic candidate here Liz Alpert previously ran against party switching Rep. Sandy Murman in a Hillsborough County seat in the 1990s.

Coastal Seats in Palm Beach/Broward Counties

Republican officeholders are becoming rarer and rarer in the liberal West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale areas. The Republicans are down to three House members and one Senator from the area, all representing coastal seats where Barack Obama won in 2008. The House Republican drawn into the most Democratic district in the area is Pat Rooney in HD-85. The forerunner of this district HD-83 produced two agonizingly close races in 2006 and 2008 where Republican Carl Domino barely survived in both cycles. The 2006 race against Rick Ford, an excellent candidate who was underfunded and largely ignored by local Democratic leaders was decided by about 100 votes. The 2008 race was targeted heavily by local Democrats and House Victory, but the nominee Local attorney Bryan Miller actually performed worse. This year David Lutrin will attempt to unseat a Republican in this seat that voted for both Barack Obama and Alex Sink. Lutrin is underfunded, but previous elections have proven straight party voting is very prevalent in the area and Obama is almost certain to carry the district.

More elusive for the Democrats has been the adjoining District 89 (formerly 87). Much like the 85th, this district has consistently supported Democratic Presidential candidates, but unlike the 85th legislative elections haven’t been close and every GOP gubernatorial candidate has carried the area since 1990. Incumbent Republican Bill Hager, a former Boca Raton council member has lost much of the bi-partisan support he once enjoyed with a conservative voting record. His Democratic opponent Pamela Goodman will be very well funded and can self finance to a large extent. The last minute recruitment of Goodman was a coup for local Democrats, but this seat has typically seen a greater drop off in Democratic voting down-ballot than the district immediately to the North. Additionally, Rick Scott won this area in 2010.

House District 93 (formerly HD-91) held by Republican George Moratis will be contested by Democrat Gerri Ann Copotosto. This seat is slightly more Republican than the 89th and far more Republican than the 85th. The failure of the Democrats to recruit the type of strong challenger for Moratis that they did for Hager likely means this seat is not in play.

House District 120

Despite a scare in qualifying due to falling short on petition signatures, Ian Whitney is the Democratic nominee in this Keys oriented district. Whitney who worked in the US senate and has been a leader in the local Democratic Party is well equipped to hold this swing seat for the Democrats.

Ratings after the jump

Leans Rep Likely Rep Safe Rep
HD 24 (Open) HD 29 (Dorworth) HD 1  (Ingram)
HD 35 (Schenk) HD 51 (Crisafulli) HD 2  (Broxson)
HD 41 (Wood) HD 55 (Open) HD 3   (Ford)
HD 50 (Open) HD 58 (Open) HD 4   (Gaetz)
HD 53 (Tobia) HD 71 (Boyd) HD 5  (Coley)
HD 59 (Open) HD 74 (Holder) HD 6   (Patronis)
HD 65 (Nehr) HD 77 (Open) HD 10  (Porter)
HD 66 (Ahern) HD 11 (Adkins)
HD 93 (Moritas) HD 12 (Ray)
HD 112 (Open) HD 15 (Davis)
HD 114 (Fresen) HD 16 (McBurney)
HD 115 (Bileca) HD 17 (Renuart)
HD 18 (Open)
HD 19 (Van Zant)
HD 22 (Open)
HD 23 (Baxley)
HD 25 (Open)
HD 28 (Brodeur)
HD 31 (Nelson)
HD 32 (Metz)
HD 33 (O’Toole)
HD 36 (Open)
HD 37 (Corcoran)
HD 38 (Weatherford)
HD 39 (Open)
HD 40 (McKeel)
HD 44 (Precourt)
HD 52  (Workman)
HD 54  (Mayfield)
HD 56  (Albritton)
HD 57 (Open)
HD 60 (Young)
HD 64 (Grant)
HD 73 (Steube)
HD 75 (Roberson)
HD 76 (Grant)
HD 78 (Open)
HD 79 (Aubuchon)
HD 80 (Hudson)
HD 82 (Open)
HD 83 (Harrell)
HD 103 (Open)
HD 105 (Trijillo)
HD 106 (Passidomo)
HD 110 (Oliva)
HD 111 (Open)
HD 116 (Rivas Logan)
HD 118 (Artiles)
HD 119 (Nunez)
Toss Up
HD 7 (Open)
HD 21 (Perry)
HD 27 (Open)
HD 30 (Plakon)
HD 34 (Smith) -Could go IND-
HD 47 (Open)
HD 67 (Hooper)
HD 68  (Open)
HD 69  (Open)
HD 72 (Pilon)
HD 85 (Rooney)
HD 89 (Hager)
HD 120 (Open)
Safe Dem Likely Dem Leans Dem
HD 8 (Williams) HD 43 (Open) HD 9 (Rehwinkel-Vasilinda)
HD 13 (Fullwood) HD 62 (Cruz) HD 49 (Open)
HD 14  (Jones) HD 81 (Perman) HD 63 (Harrison)
HD 20 (Open) HD 86 (Pafford) HD 84 (Open)
HD 26 (Taylor) HD 90 (Berman)
HD 45 (Open) HD 104 (Open)
HD 46 (Open)
HD 48 (Open)
HD 61 (Reed)
HD 70 (Rouson)
HD 87 (Open)
HD 88 (Open)
HD 91 (Slosberg)
HD 92 (Clarke-Reed)
HD 94 (Thurston)
HD 95 (Rogers)
HD 96 (Waldman)
HD 97 (Open)
HD 98 (Open)
HD 99 (Schwartz)
HD 100 (Gibbons)
HD 101 (Open)
HD 102 (Open)
HD 107 (Julien)
HD 108 (Campbell)
HD 109 (Stafford)
HD 113 (Open)
HD 117 (Open)
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13 thoughts on “Florida House Race Ratings – June 20

  1. Excellent analysis. You are spot on I think on all but one district.

    I do think one error here is 47 which leans D and has a great and popular candidate in Linda Stewart.

    She will win that. It is a heavily D area.

  2. What is the obsession here with Ford and that race vs. Domino??. He lost and Miller would have won if not for Obama.

    We like Kerner running in the open seat, Berman, Slosberg, Pafford, and Rader.

    Goodman will lose though if Hager’s affair becomes a bigger issue she can win. He left his family to take up with some hussy.

  3. I am shocked that you guys even realize that we even have winnable seats north of Orlando. I think we win d 7 and d 21.

    This was a good analysis. Beginning in 14 with a strong gov nominee we will take more north fla seats.

  4. No, 47 is not heavily Democratic. That is the issue. I am 100% for Stewart and want her to win. But she is against Bob Brooks. If she was against someone that was weak, I would somewhat agree. But this is a hard district. Yes, she can win it in 2012. But can she retain it in 2014? I hope so, but it is FAR FAR FAR from being “heavily D”.

  5. I think we beat Plakon and Harrison easily!!!!!

    But FDP should send thanks to Weatherford when that happens. Rather than play games the house just said “Rod here ate five free seats now shut your mouth and drop the lawsuit!”

  6. Miller sucked…Ford was awesome and he would of won if the party helped him. He was great! He should run again. MS they all suck that you just named. All EJ clients in a primary lol sad.

    Kerner we like….but well you will see.

  7. Our candidate against Moritas is a nice lady but totally clueless!!!!

    I hope she gets better because with Obama atop the ticket she can win the seat!!!!

  8. As a self-recruited state house candidate, I agree with you 100%. But maybe the self-recruited candidates are actually better suited to run (without much party support) than the people the party would have selected itself (to provide its limited support to).

  9. Lurtin is a nice young guy but a dud of a candidate. Shame, b/c that is such a winnable seat!

    I agree on Ford being screwed by Mahmood and Wexler.

  10. I think you are WAY too optimistic about some of the Tampa Bay area seats. The Pinellas seats underperform and not recruiting a Senate candidate in 22 kills us in the overlapping house seats.

    63 I agree can be won by Danish but it is a toss up not leans D.

    30 should be leans D. Plakon will go down in an Obama tide. I am shocked he decided to run there instead of moving somewhere further north into Seminole.

  11. Everyone seems to like Kerner, myself included. Seems like a great young addition to dem delegation. Great background, police, lawyer, born and raised in the area, earned every endorsement, etc.

    What do you mean “but well you will see”. What’s the deal with this guy. Seems like he’s kept a legitimate candidate out of the race. Raises a lot of money too.

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