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Democrats Don't Have Many Opportunities to Pick Up Seats in Florida as They Look to Flip House in 2018

September 5, 2017 - 6:00am
Carlos Curbelo and Stephanie Murphy
Carlos Curbelo and Stephanie Murphy

If Democrats are to have any chance of flipping the U.S. House in 2018, they’re going to have to pick up seats in Florida. But, with a year until the primaries, their chances to make major gains in the Sunshine State are, at best, slim. 

To be sure, Democrats have some opportunities in South Florida. With U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., retiring from Congress where she has served since 1989, Democrats have a good chance of picking up that swing seat. But that’s no sure thing and there are major candidates in both the Democratic and Republican ranks. 

Democrats also have high hopes of knocking off U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., next year. But, even while Democrats have a slight advantage in that South Florida district, Curbelo has gotten national attention for breaking with President Donald Trump and, so far, isn’t facing a challenge from the right. A crowd of Democrats is starting to line up against Curbelo with Debbie Mucarsel-Powell getting some attention though she did not exactly shine when she took on state Sen. Antire Flores last year. Flores won 54 percent to 46 percent. 

Outside of those two districts, Democrats don’t have that many obvious opportunities to flip House seats in Florida come 2018. Granted candidates can come out of nowhere--witness Stephanie Murphy’s upset win over longtime U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., last year--but, so far,  Democrats don’t have that many chances to win seats in the Sunshine State. State Attorney Dave Aronberg might give freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., a tough fight if he runs but none of the other Democrats looking at running or currently in the race look like major threats at this time. Democrats might make some gains in Northeast Florida is U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., runs for statewide office. Nancy Soderberg has some potential and an impressive background but she didn’t shine when she ran for the state Senate and it’s no sure thing that DeSantis sets his sites on higher office. Even though there is already a host of Democrats running against him, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., should be in good shape come 2018. Both Alan and Dena Grayson have filed to run for Congress but they will have uphill climbs if they actually decide to take on Republican U.S. Reps. Dan Webster and Bill Posey. 

In the meantime, Democrats have seats of their own to defend. After beating Mica last time out, Murphy is a top target for Republicans. Businessman Mark Busch, state Rep. Mike Miller and businessman Scott Sturgill have already lined up to challenge Murphy and Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg and state Sen. David Simmons could also enter the Republican primary. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., could face a rematch with former U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., who has remained active on the national stage since being defeated last year. 

There’s still 14 months until the election and a great deal can happen. The party that controls the White House usually struggles in off-year elections which can help Democrats at the national level. But, so far in the early stages of the 2018 campaign, Democrats will have to rely on gains in California, Minnesota, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania and other states since they won’t get many chances to pick up seats in Florida. 


Polls here and they are 1. Democrat Pam Keith 70% Republican Brian Mast 30% 2. Republican Mike Miller 70% Democrat Stephanie Murphy 30% 3. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel Powell 70% Republican Carlos Curbelo 30% 4. Democrat Charlie Crist 70% Potential Republican Opponent 30% 5. Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez 70% Republican Opponent 30% 6. Democrat Nancy Sodenberg 70% Republican Opponent 30% 7. Republican Ron Destantis 70% Democrat Nancy Sodenberg 30%. and that's what i'm hoping for 2018 elections to congress goes that way for me.

I think for Brian Mast will probably lose reelection to Pam Keith, Stephanie Murphy will probably lose reelection to i'm hoping Mike Miller, and Carlos Curbelo will probably lose reelection to Debbie Mucarsel Powell in 2018.

I think for Mike Miller will win Florida's 7th Congressional District in 2018 along with Jose Javier Rodriguez winning Florida's 27th Congressional District in 2018, Debbie Mucarsel Powell winning Florida's 26th Congressional District in 2018, Pam Keith winning Florida's 18th Congressional District in 2018, and possibly Nancy Soderberg winning Florida's 6th Congressional District in 2018 if the Incumbent runs for Governor. I also think for Charlie Crist will probably win reelection in Florida's 13th Congressional District in 2018.

It is shameful so few of Florida's districts (not to mention the rest of the country's) are so noncompetitive. Today Republicans are dug in, tomorrow it may be Democrats. Gerrymandering is the norm now days and it is a disservice to all citizens.

Did you know that Florida has an anti-gerrymandering, fair districts law in the state Constitution? The congressional districts that we currently have were the result of legal challenges over the boundaries and were subsequently changed and approved by the courts. Whether you like the members of our congressional delegation or not, gerrymandering is no longer an excuse.

I do know that. However, we all know better. Concepts like contiguity and compactness required by Florida law are easily overcome to created political leanings, as is the case for similar laws around the country. Until districts are determined by non partisan committees (and not legislators) they will always be Gerrymandered, even if they escape the technical definition. The fact so many have been determined by legal action is in itself partial proof, as is the lack of competition in so many districts. Thinking this is due to anything other than political Gerrymandering is naive, regardless of recent attempts to implement "fair" redistricting in Florida.

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