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Could a Congressman like Eric Cantor Fall in Florida's Primaries?

June 10, 2014 - 6:00pm
David Brat might have knocked off Eric Cantor this week in one of the biggest congressional upsets in years but it will be hard for a repeat performance when Florida voters hit the polls for the primaries in August.

Florida has certainly seen candidates come out of nowhere to defeat congressmen in the primaries before. In fact it happened in 2012 when Ted Yoho defeated Cliff Stearns. But it will be hard for a repeat performance this time out.

District 1: Jeff Miller tangles with John Krause in the Republican primary. Miller is flying high for the moment, especially after his run on the national stage as focus turned to Eric Shinseki and VA hospitals. In his past bids, Krause never caught fire and there is nothing to indicate things will be different this time out.

District 3: Yoho has made a habit of sticking his foot in his mouth but he is very popular in this rural district. The right candidate who could take Clay County from him and be competitive in the rural counties might be able to topple Yoho in the primary but he would have to run a near perfect campaign. With his role-playing hobby making national headlines, it doesnt look like Jake Rush is that candidate. To his credit, Rush has been aggressive, trying to make the case that Yoho is a liberal. But Rush will need the stars to align over the next two months to make the race competitive.

District 4: Ander Crenshaw is pretty popular in Jacksonville but Republican primary voters have shown a tendency to sour on longtime politicians -- just ask Cantor and Stearns. Ryman Shoaf is a conservative and a former Navy officer, not a bad combination on the First Coast. Crenshaws held off challenges from the right before but Shoaf is a more credible threat than the others. Crenshaw is a favorite here but this one could be worth keeping an eye on.

District 7: After beating Sandy Adams in a rare primary matching two congressional incumbents in 2012, John Mica again faces a Republican primary. There are three candidates trying to beat Mica in the primary and former Marines officer David Smith is the most serious contender to do so. Money could be a factor here in the Orlando market as Mica has a healthy war chest while Smith had around $32,750 in the bank at the end of March, spending most of the almost $98,000 he had raised. When the FEC releases the second quarter numbers in the middle of July, it will be interesting to see what Smith has in the bank. For now, though, Mica is a strong favorite.

District 9: Alan Grayson is in no danger of losing to frequent candidate Nick Ruiz in the Democratic primary come August.

District 20: Alcee Hastings has two interesting opponents in the Democratic primary in Jean Enright from the Palm Beach County Port Commission and former heavyweight boxing contender Jameel McCline. Neither appears to be much of a threat as Hastings looks well-poised to extend his time in Congress, though if one of them drops out and the anti-Hastings forces unite this could be worth a look down the road.

District 21: Ted Deutch faces a former Labor Department official in Emmanuel Morel in the Democratic primary in August. Morel is an underdog, to be sure, but he has worked the district hard and certainly is an earnest candidate. But Deutch has been winning elections by large margins for years and is in no danger of losing this contest.

District 24: On paper, Michael Etienne should at least make Frederica Wilson work in the Democratic primary. Looking to woo Haitian American voters, Etienne is an attorney who serves as North Miamis city clerk. But Etienne has stumbled when he has sought higher office, including a failed bid when Yolly Roberson gave up her House seat in 2010. Wilson has strung together wins for years in the area and is a favorite of the White House. Etiennes underwhelming fundraising hasnt helped.

While there are more than two months to go, despite the examples of Stearns and Cantor, it will be tough for any of the challengers to beat any Florida congressmen in the primary.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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