Florida Senators Cruising to Re-election in 2014
Around the State
Less than a year until the general elections, it appears the Florida Senate will feature more of the same after November 2014. Not a single senator faces term limits in 2014 and only one of the current incumbents has drawn a major challenger.
With Republicans controlling the Senate, it appears Democrats will be hard-pressed to flip the chamber next year. So far, most Republican incumbents in the Senate are cruising to victory in 2014 with next to no Democratic opposition.
Jeff Brandes is the only Republican incumbent who has drawn a major Democratic challenger so far in Judithanne McLauchlan, a professor at the University of South Florida. McLauchlan has an impressive background working with the New Hampshire Democrats and being one of John Kerry’s chief organizers in Florida back in 2004. But Brandes has been successful in getting his message out and raising funds. With Republicans outnumbering Democrats in this Tampa Bay district, Brandes starts off with the edge, though McLauchlan is a live underdog and Democrats are building momentum in the area.
But if Brandes can expect a fight, the same can’t be said of any of his fellow Senate Republicans in 2014. Democrat Scott Landry has been in the race for a few months now but he hasn’t given Tom Lee a reason to sweat yet. Joe Negron can expect a spirited primary challenge from underdog Brandon Michael Cannon over poker rooms and gambling but there’s no Democrat in the race yet. Jack Latvala should have no problem dispatching Zahid Roy in the primary yet again.
But most Senate Republicans have nothing to fear so far in 2014. The likes of Republicans Greg Evers, Aaron Bean, John Thrasher, Dorothy Hukill, David Simmons, Thad Altman, Wilton Simpson, Bill Galvano, Nancy Detert, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Rene Garcia and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla have not even drawn opponents yet. Granted, that could change but, with less than a year to go, most Republican incumbents have little to worry about in 2014.
The same holds true for Democrats in the Senate. Republican Edward DeAguilera started off his bid against Geri Thompson with some impressive fundraising but she has been picking up the pace in the money race and he hasn’t been able to compete with her. DeAguilera still has to battle Fritz Jackson Seide in the Republican primary. Regardless of who emerges in the primary, Thompson is a heavy favorite to keep her seat.
Thompson has more of a challenge than her fellow Senate Democrats. Republican candidates have not filed yet to take on Darren Soto, Maria Sachs and Oscar Braynon in 2014. Nor do those Democratic senators have primary challengers.
Things can change, of course, and some of these senators can expect opponents in 2014, no matter how hopeless their bids might be. The longer challengers stay out of the races, the more time incumbents can build support and fill up their war chests. While there could be a handful of competitive races, and the Brandes-McLauchlan contest should be intriguing, most of the senators won’t face heavy lifts in 2014. Don’t expect much, if anything, to change in the Florida Senate after the 2014 elections.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.