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Allen West Ranked as the Most Vulnerable GOP Congressman in Florida

June 28, 2012 - 6:00pm

A prominent national pundit unveiled his look at congressional races in November and maintained that freshman U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., ranks as the most vulnerable member in the Florida delegation to lose his seat to the other party.

The Rothenberg Political Report -- brainchild of political analyst Stuart Rothenberg -- found 201 safe Republican seats and 161 secure Democratic seats across the nation. Rothenberg maintained there are less than 75 competitive House seats across the nation with 29 tossups, 25 races where the Republican starts off ahead and 19 seats where the Democrats have the advantage. Rothenberg insisted there would be no wave resulting in a dramatic shift in the House with various projections showing Democrats gaining, at most, six seats -- far from what they need to take back the House.

According to Rothenberg, West, who is picking up a large portion of the area currently represented by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., after redistricting, is in a tossup district with a Republican tilt. West faces an August primary challenge from Martin County Sheriff Bob Crowder, still unpopular with some Republicans for backing Democrat Alex Sink in the 2010 gubernatorial race. Democrats have high hopes for businessman Patrick Murphy, who is expected to emerge from their primary contest.

Looking at other races, Rothenberg found only six competitive races in Florida, while he did not expect the other 20 congressional contests to be close.

Rothenberg placed Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Southerlands bid for a second term in the Lean Republican category. With Tallahassee, traditionally a bastion of support for Democrats with its populations of university students and state government employees, playing a larger role after redistricting, Southerland can expect to face a major Democratic opponent in November. Former state Sen. Al Lawson is battling state Rep. Leonard Bembry and Panama City attorney Alvin Peters in the Democratic primary.

Two Republicans in Congress who have continued to face questions about ethics were also listed by Rothenberg in Lean Republican seats. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican who serves on the Ways and Means Committee, faces a challenge from Democratic nominee former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, who lost his Florida House seat in 2010. U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., is also in a Lean Republican contest. Rivera might face a rematch with Democratic leader Joe Garcia who ran for Congress in 2008 and 2010 but faces a primary in August.

Rothenberg maintained that U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., is in better shape for his bid for a second term, placing him in a Republican Favored seat. Democrats have high hopes for their candidate, former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings who has garnered national attention for her congressional bid.

Two congressional races without incumbents were ranked by Rothenberg as Lean Democrat.

This includes former U.S. Rep. Alan Graysons bid to return to Congress in Central Florida. Rothenberg made the former Democrat congressman a favorite over whoever emerges in the Republican primary. Osceola County Commissioner John Quines, attorney Todd Long, businessman Julius Melendez and businessman Mark Oxner will battle it out for the Republican nomination in the August primary.

Rothenberg ranked former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner as an underdog as the Republican seeks a congressional seat despite two Democrats fighting for their partys nomination. Lois Frankel, who led Democrats in the Florida House and served as mayor of West Palm Beach, battles Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs in the August primary.

Looking at other races, Rothenberg did not think competitive Republican primaries will help Democrats pick up seats in Florida.

While U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns faces three major foes for the Republican nomination, Rothenberg insisted that whoever wins the primary will safely carry the seat for the Republicans. Two Republican congressmen -- U.S. Rep. John Mica and U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams -- are gearing up for a primary contest in August, but whoever emerges should have a Safe Republican contest in November. Despite crowded Republican primaries to fill two open seats -- one stretching from the outskirts of Jacksonville to Volusia County and the other in Southwest Florida -- Rothenberg determined that whoever the GOP turns to will be in Safe Republican districts. While physician and businessman Dr. Rudy Moise is back to challenge U.S. Frederica Wilson in the Democratic primary, there are no Republican candidates in the race, making the seat safe for the Democrats.

Rothenberg found congressional incumbents Jeff Miller, Ander Crenshaw, Bill Posey, Rich Nugent, Gus Bilirakis, Bill Young, Dennis Ross, Tom Rooney, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to be in Safe Republican seats. Incumbent members of the U.S. House, Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, were listed by Rothenberg as having Safe Democrat seats.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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