Florida Democrats say ‘no GOP seat is safe’ in 2018 – Florida Politics

Florida Democrats say ‘no GOP seat is safe’ in 2018

A record number Democratic candidates qualified for state races this week, and the Florida Democratic Party said now it’s time to prepare for the “Blue Wave.”

“From the Gubernatorial race, to State House and Senate, to county commissioners and mayors, we have the most qualified, committed, and exciting group of candidates we have ever seen,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo.

“We have a record number of people who have stepped up to run, and what this shows us is that no GOP seat is safe. After nearly 20-years of all-Republican rule, Floridians are fed-up with economic policies that don’t benefit working families, they are tired of their children’s education being shortchanged, and they are tired of leaders who have failed to take action on everything from gun violence prevention to climate change.”

Rizzo also touted a record-breaking 82 Democratic women making the ballot for state legislative races.

“Women will be the difference in 2018, I do truly believe that. They are instrumental to the success of the Democratic Party, and they feel more empowered than ever to take their future into their own hands by running for office,” she said.

It’s too early to tell whether Democrats can crack the GOP’s hold on state government by flipping the Governor’s Mansion, or possibly even the state Senate, but now that the title cards are set it’s clear heretofore underdogs’ strategy is more reminiscent of Rocky than Glass Joe.

Republicans currently hold a 23-16 advantage in Florida Senate, with one vacancy. Democrats plan to take the chamber back has been clear for months — flip Tampa Bay and field fresh, credible challengers in Gainesville-based SD 8, Lakeland-based SD 22 and Miami-Dade-based SD 36. Win five, win the Senate.

On the Tampa Bay front, Democrats have recruited House Minority Leader Janet Cruz to challenge Republican Sen. Dana Young in SD 18; former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy to take on former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper in SD 16, and trial attorney Carrie Pilon to challenge St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes in SD 24. None of those races will be easy, but the 2018 crop of candidates is certainly more competitive than in 2016.

In SD 8, the party likes its odds with Kayser Enneking, and she’s done her part by pulling in a respectable amount of cash for her campaign. Incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry still leads her in fundraising, but not by near the margin found in the Tampa races.

The fundraising gap and Republican lean is more significant in SD 22, where former circuit court judge Bob Doyel is challenging Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel. He’s a much more formidable opponent however than the 2016 Democratic nominee, Debra Wright, who to her credit still came within 7 points despite being outspent 20-to-1.

Time will tell on David Perez’ bid against Republican Rep. Manny Diaz in SD 36. Diaz is a popular and very well-funded, and Perez has only been in the race for a couple of weeks.

While the Senate roadmap is known, Florida Democrats have been less direct about their overall strategy to chip away at the GOP’s sizable majority in the House.

Republicans currently have a stranglehold on the chamber, which is split 76-41 with three vacancies. Two of those empty seats are Republican locks, and the third was a gimme for Democrats — congrats to Boynton Beach Democrat Joseph Casello, who was elected to HD 90 without opposition Friday.

At 42 seats, the party is still a dozen from the number that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and in 2018 the strategy in the lower chamber reflects a familiar adage: “You must be present to win.”

To that end, Democrats are fielding a candidate in over 100 districts, a marked increase from the 63 Democrats who took a shot in 2016. And it’s not all quantity over quality — a cursory glance the 95 House races that weren’t decided Friday jogs the memory on some of the strong candidates running under the Democratic Party banner.

In Orlando’s HD 47, Anna Eskamani has strong odds to flip the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Mike Miller. In Broward-based HD 93, Emma Collum has a genuine chance to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. George Moraitis. And in perennial target HD 63, Fentrice Driskell is raising cash and landing endorsements as she aims to unseat Tampa Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison.

Even in some districts previously thought of as moonshots, some real-deal candidates have shown up and gotten to work. In Sarasota’s HD 74, for instance, Tony Mowry is confident he can hand James Buchanan his second defeat of the year in a traditionally Republican seat. Tracye Polson is matching her GOP opponents in fundraising in her bid to flip HD 15, the seat vacated by Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jay Fant.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

1 Comment

  1. Help create a Florida firewall for President Donald J. Trump in the midterm election.

    Today I am a proud member of the Republican Party. For over 20 years I raised issues about helping the disappearing mom and pop shops and family businesses in our country as part of the Democrat Party. These small businesses has been an essential part of the American Dream that we can not afford to see disappear from our country.

    People in the Democrat Party told me I sound like I was a Republican. They said they were not interested in my ideas to help small businesses across our country compete in today’s global economy. I replied, my idea would help struggling mom and pops shops and family businesses making less than $250,000 a year. I said, my ideas are a game changer that would also empower minority communities to create employment opportunities right there in the communities.

    The Democrat Party dismissed my ideas because it was not about government handouts to help appease minority communities to gain votes. I explained, even a small business owner making less than $50,000 a year would benefit tremendously from my ideas. My ideas could help save mom and pops small businesses that have been handed down for generations. I was told over and over by those in the Democrat Party, they were not interested because that issue would not get them any votes.

    Over my time in the Democrat Party, I sheared my concerns about other issues such as illegal immigration, reasons I taught Obamacare was a bad bill that should not pass, and the fact that policies of the Obama Administration was not good for country. I was call a Republican, and told maybe I needed to join the Republican Party. The problem the Democrat Party had with me, was my ideas focused on solutions that empowered people to solve problems and did not involve the government coming in and taking over to try to solve every problems in the community.

    I have talked about restoring the promise of the American Dream for over a decade. I am truly excited about the possibility of working with our President to address issues we have talked about for decades. Many of our policies have been in place since the 1960’s and 1970’s and are no long relevant in a dynamic fast changing global economy. There are new opportunities for small business we have not even explored because of our old antiquated policies of the past. In the coming weeks you will hear more about my ideas to help create an environment that revitalize the entrepreneurial spirit across District 22 and our country. We have to adapt and change our approach to provide an environment where our mom and pop shops and small family business can flourish once again.

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