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Swing Left targets 20 state legislative seats for 2020 cycle

That includes 14 House and two Senate districts now held by GOP lawmakers.

During presidential elections, Democrats nationwide see Florida as 29 swingy electoral votes.

But the progressive group Swing Left also wants Democrats retaking state governments nationwide. With that goal in mind, the group Thursday morning announced 18 Florida House districts and two Florida Senate seats it will target this year.

“There’s been a continued focus on the Republican side of things on statehouses in the past several election cycles,” said Alex Pilla, communications manager for Swing Left. “A lot of that is about redistricting in 2021. But we want to break up the unified control and think flipping the House is the best way to do that.”

So where will the group focus its energy?

Swing Left will help defend four House districts — 59, 69, 72 and 84 — now represented by Democrats. Three of those shifted from Republican to Democratic control in 2018.

District 59 is represented by Adam Hattersley and District 72 by Margaret Good, both of whom elected to run for Congress in 2020. In Districts 69 and 84, freshman Democratic Reps. Jennifer Webb and Dolores Hogan Johnson, respectively, are seek reelection to second terms.

As for offense, Swing Left aims to flip Districts 15, 21, 26, 28, 29, 42, 60, 89, 93, 105, 115, 118, 119 and 120.

That would mean cementing parts of South and Central Florida as Democratic country, but Pilla notes there’s some geographic diversity on that map. The group will target a Jacksonville seat now held by freshman Republican Wyman Duggan, who’s facing Democrat Tammyette Thomas. And they have eyes for a Gainesville seat occupied since 2016 by Chuck Clemons, but where Democrat Kayser Enneking has already filed.

“There’s a wide path to breaking this supermajority,” Pilla said.

On the Senate side, Swing Left will target open seats being vacated by Longwood Republican David Simmons and Miami Republican Anitere Flores. A number of Democratic groups have looked to those districts as potential pickups.

Pilla said Swing Left has no interest in disrupting primaries, and will commit to back whatever Democrat wins the nomination in any of its districts.

“Once a candidate gets through the primaries, they will have a built-in infrastructure to build on,” she said.

But in many cases, Swing Left knows the battles will still be difficult. Through careful analysis of past voting performance and demographic trends, the districts seemed good zones to target. But by nature, these are battles that can go either way.

That said, Swing Left enjoyed success when it decided to invest $1 million into Virginia in 2019. The result was Democrats taking full control of the statehouse in November.

“There, 89% of our donations went to races that were decided by single digits,” Pilla said. “We intend to do the same here.”

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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