Two battleground areas highlight this year’s State House showdowns. One is the Tampa Bay area which we will feature today and the other is Central Florida which we will feature Monday. On Tuesday, we will look at the few remaining big House races outside these two battlegrounds.
House District 58
Gail Gottlieb (D) vs. Ross Spano (R)
Obama 50% McCain 49%
Scott 49% Sink 47%
This seat is open because Rachel Burgin ran for the State Senate. The area is growing quickly and Spano is favored here despite Gottlieb’s strong resume and decent fundraising thanks to her Washington connections.
House District 63
Incumbent Shawn Harrison (R) challenged by Mark Danish (D)
Obama 53% McCain 46%
Scott 46% Sink 51%
Mark Danish overcame a major monetary disadvantage to win the Democratic primary. Harrison is a savvy incumbent but this district is almost certainly going to be carried by the Democrats at the top of the ticket by several points making it a tough race to call.
House District 65
Incumbent Peter Nehr (R) challenged by Carl “Z” Zimmerman (D)
Obama 48% McCain 51%
Scott 50% Sink 45%
Rep. Peter Nehr is facing a tough challenge from Carl Zimmerman yet again. Zimmerman is running a stronger and more disciplined race this time than in his 2006 and 2008 close shave defeats to Nehr. However, 2012 is likely to be a better GOP year than either 2006 or 2008, so while Zimmerman is stronger and Nehr weaker than those years, the incumbent remains favored.
House District 66
Incumbent Rep. Larry Ahern (R) vs. Challenger Mary Louis Ambrose (D)
Obama 49% McCain 50%
Scott 49% Sink 46%
Mary Louise Ambrose challenge to Rep. Larry Ahren is one of five interesting Pinellas County races this cycle. This central Pinellas seat has been reliably Republican for many years and while Ambrose is a compelling candidate she is an underdog in this race. Mitt Romney is almost certain to carry this district.
House District 67
Incumbent Rep. Ed Hooper (R) vs. Challenger Ben Farrell (D)
Obama 53% McCain 46%
Scott 46% Sink 49%
Ed Hooper has run a good campaign and could hold on in this seat partly because he’s running against a flawed candidate. However, this seat is likely to flip back to the Democrats in the near future if not this year.
House District 68
Dwight Dudley (D) vs. Former Rep. Frank Farkas (R)
Obama 55% McCain 44%
Scott 43% Sink 52%
An excellent Democratic candidate Dwight Dudley is running against former GOP Rep. Frank Farkas whose uninspiring campaign has recently gone highly negative in this urban St Petersburg district.
House District 69
Josh Shulman (D) vs. Kathleen Peters (R)
Obama 51% McCain 47%
Scott 45% Sink 50%
Kathleen Peters is proving to be a very difficult Republican to run against for Josh Shulman. This race turned negative early and has continued to be one of the nastiest races in the state.