In the early stages of the 2018 congressional elections, both major parties are looking at a few key races in Florida.
On Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced their initial wave of targeted Democratic incumbents in 2018. Two of the 36 Democrats in the NRCC’s sites are from Florida: freshman U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., who upended then U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., in November and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., who upset then U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who had been in Congress for 24 years.
U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, the chairman of the NRCC, weighed in on the GOP’s plan as the plan to go after those Democratic incumbents.
“The success of our government depends on Republicans maintaining a strong majority in the House," Stivers said. “We owe the American people assurance that the agenda we were elected on — health-care reform, a stronger national defense, and more good-paying jobs – is fulfilled.
“Our battle plan will put us on offense in 36 Democrat-held House districts,” Stivers added. “Our strategy will allow us to be competitive in races throughout the country and achieve our overall goal of keeping Republicans in control of the House.”
On the other side of the aisle, earlier this month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) started its own efforts as the “March into ‘18” program launched. This includes bringing in full time staffers and taking to social media as the DCCC targets 20 House Republican incumbents including sophomore U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.
“The launch of our ‘March Into ‘18’ accountability project comes at a time of excitement and opportunity for Democrats," said U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-NM, the chairman of the DCCC, at the start of the month. “The organic strength of the women’s marches, Affordable Care Act rallies, and protests across the country provides further evidence that Democrats are on offense this cycle – and the DCCC is ready to capture that energy.
“This is an unprecedented early investment in key Republican-held House districts, in order to engage voters and help make their voices heard,” Lujan added. “So many people are looking for ways to tell their stories, channel their energy and organize for change, and this project will help do just that.”
On paper, Crist, Curbelo and Murphy should expect tight races in 2018. Crist beat Jolly 52 percent to 48 percent and Jolly has opened the door to a rematch. Murphy took 51.5 percent of the vote while Mica pulled 48.5 percent in November. Already two Republicans in the state Legislature--Sen. David Simmons and Rep. Bob Cortes--are at considering taking Murphy on in 2018. In a rematch of their 2014 matchup, Curbelo routed former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November taking 53 percent while the Democrat pulled 41 percent. But Curbelo represents a district which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton carried by more than 15 percent, ensuring Democrats continue to think they can beat the congressman.