Florida Democrats field candidate in every congressional district in the state

Florida Democrat Donkey Flag
Last-minute entries in CD 2, 5 and 12 ensured that Democrats have a candidate on the ballot everywhere.

The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) has successfully fielded candidates in every congressional district in the state.

That achieves a goal that the party announced less than two weeks from the qualification deadline. Now, FDP Chair Nikki Fried said it’s a clear sign that the blue team has momentum.

“Florida Democrats just filed to compete for every congressional seat,” Fried said. “It does not matter if we’re running in Pensacola or Key West, every part of this state is worth fighting for and we are not going to let Florida Republicans walk into office without being held accountable. Florida Democrats are fired up and ready to compete everywhere.”

Of note, grassroots activists have sought out candidates even in long shot districts, and played a significant role in finding candidates in many of Florida’s seats.

“Competing matters. Elections have consequences,” posted Fergie Reid, founder of 90 For 90. That’s a group started in Virginia that pushed for a full-field strategy there that ultimately led to Democrats retaking the Legislature.

Now, the group and other grassroots activists want to try the same approach in Florida. They have tried to do so in past elections like 2020. But that year, the group met resistance from the state party, which wanted to focus on battleground districts.

Movement leaders have admitted that Democrats will not win every district in Florida. Democrats haven’t controlled a majority of U.S. House seats in the Sunshine State since 1988.

But Democrats believe that having candidates organizing and fighting for votes everywhere will help the party long-term, and hopefully mobilize voters to support President Joe Biden in this year’s Presidential Election and unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who is running for re-election.

The final pieces of a full slate of congressional candidates came together late for Democrats. Hours before qualification, Gainesville Democrat Rock Aboujaoude filed against U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis in Florida’s 12th Congressional District, even though Aboudaoude had been filed in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.

Then, Democrat Meghann Hovey qualified just before a noon deadline Friday to challenge U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn in CD 2.

In both cases, Republican incumbents are heavily favored to win.

The party in the last days of qualification week also recruited a candidate against U.S. Rep. John Rutherford in Florida’s 5th Congressional District. Democrat Jay McGovern qualified the final day of the deadline.

Those were three districts that Florida Democrats just a week ago said needed recruits. But other races had no Democrat at the beginning of the week. Democrat Tom Wells surfaced only this week as a challenger to U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, and Democrat James Stockton showed up this week to challenge U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

If nothing else, running a full slate sets Florida Democrats apart from the Republican Party of Florida. While two candidates filed, no Republicans ultimately qualified in Florida’s 20th Congressional District, allowing U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick to win another term unopposed.

But Democrats have more ground to make up. In 2022, Republicans won 20 of Florida’s 28 congressional seats.

Jacob Ogles

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 [email protected].


  • It's Complicated

    April 26, 2024 at 5:01 pm

    There are three swing seats in the Florida Congressional Delegation held by Republicans. THREE. There are zero swing seats held by Democrats. The Democrats should have fielded the best candidates they could find in those three districts and put every ounce of energy and $ into winning. The other 15 seats held by Republicans are by design absolutely not winnable for a Democrat. Classic case of doing the emotional and symbolic thing that is not smart in the long run.

  • Rick Whitaker

    April 26, 2024 at 5:06 pm

    IC, why do you say ” that is not smart in the long run”, and how do you know the future effect of what a democrat does?

    • It’s Complicated

      April 27, 2024 at 10:02 am

      I don’t feel the effect of their action in these decisions. My critique is of the decision-making process. If the goal of the Democratic Party is to prevail in as many races as they can, they should focus on the winnable seats. By running in districts where they have zero change of prevailing, they are wasting precious and limited resources. That’s my only point.

      There can be exceptions where the candidate who prevails in a GOP Primary has high negatives, but the ‘science’ part of political science says UNLESS there are factors like a local celebrity (i.e., high positives), or there is a huge $ disparity, winning a seat that leans +5 or more towards the other party is difficult. (It is because of the other factors that the GOP holds most, if not all of the swing seats in Florida). Some of the seats the Democratic Party fielded candidates for are +25 for the GOP, if there are GOP candidates in districts that are D+10 or more, it’s not a candidate the GOP recruited, because they don’t waste time on those races.

      • Rick Whitaker

        April 28, 2024 at 10:29 pm

        IC, in my area the county is gop and the city is dem, the dems i talk to feel that all available races in the county need to be run and to give the up and coming dems a thread to build on. letting a seat go unattested is a slap in the face to any dem that lives in that district. staying in the game and educating voters toward a dem way of thinking can’t be let up on. that’s un-democratic. 5 council seats were up and dems held all of them. gop came in from out of town and spent heavily to get those seats. they lost all races. but the gop leaders said the next time they will run again for those 5 seats, but they will spend more. are those gop people wrong? according to you they are. as the maga world seems to not believe, money is NOT the main issue in life.

  • Phil Morton

    April 27, 2024 at 4:58 am

    Shoddy reporting or just not paying attention. Tom Wells has been running in CD 3 since last year and James Stockton filed 3 weeks ago for CD 6.

Comments are closed.


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