GOP has a Chance to Expand Florida House Majority in 2014
Around the State
The governor’s race and a few congressional battles will be the Florida elections that get the most attention next year, but keep an eye on the Florida House races. Unlike the Senate contests, where incumbents should easily keep their seats, the House offers some interesting races in 2014.
Democrats made great strides in the Florida House in 2012, moving up from 39 seats to 44. They could keep that momentum up in the days to come but, as of now, they will be hard pressed to do much more than defend their current incumbents in 2014.
But looking ahead to 2014, Democrats will be mostly be on the defense in the House. Republicans are starting to line up against House Democrat freshmen Karen Castor Dentel, Mike Clelland, Mark Danish, Jose Javier Rodriguez, Joe Saunders, Linda Stewart and Carl Zimmerman. Most of them should expect tough contests in 2014 and they won’t have Barack Obama’s and Bill Nelson’s coattails to ride in on like they did last year. Not all these Democrats will lose and Saunders in particular starts off strong due to his district. But Republicans do have an outside chance of controlling more than 80 seats. That would give them enough votes to override a veto if Charlie Crist beats Rick Scott next year.
As of now, there aren’t many chances for Democrats to pick up seats in the House come 2014. Democrats are hoping a wave develops against Scott and some of their House candidates will ride it to victory. That would certainly help some of the vulnerable Democrat incumbents but it might not lead to many gains at Republican expense. On the Space Coast, Democrats could pick off John Tobia though he’s shown a proven ability to fend off primary challenges and hold on in the general election. Democrats could also hope to defeat Republican freshman Ross Spano and win back Ray Pilon’s seat though the latter’s district does favor the GOP.
There are, of course, plenty of open seats in 2014 but all of them, so far, are in either solidly Republican districts or secure Democratic ones. Expect interesting primaries for seats where Republicans and Democrats should be secure for the next eight years.
Even if Murphy wins, Democrats will have more to lose than gain in 2014. Republicans have a chance, admittedly not a good one, of re-establishing a veto-proof majority. Democrats will have a hard time doing more than winning a handful more seats and even cutting the GOP majority to less than 20 seats is out of reach.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.