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Jim Waldman Could Run for State Office or Face Skip Campbell in 2016

September 10, 2013 - 6:00pm

Jim Waldman faces term limits in the House next year. But things are about to get interesting for this Coconut Creek Democrat, who could wind up running for state office or taking on Skip Campbell for a Florida Senate seat in 2016.

Waldman is a longtime fixture of Coconut Creek politics, serving on the City Commission and eventually winding up as mayor before moving over to the Florida House in 2006. An accomplished attorney, Waldman served as Democratic whip and has been one of the leading members of his caucus throughout his time in the House. Theres a reason he is currently the ranking Democrat on three different committees -- Regulatory Affairs, Rules and Calendar, and the Select Committee on Gaming. He is easily one of the sharpest and shrewdest Dems the House has to offer.

Waldmans name has emerged as a possible Democratic candidate for Cabinet office. Its hard to see how he defeats Jeff Atwater or Pam Bondi in 2014, but there are some political benefits in a possible Waldman candidacy. Waldman is certainly not going to suffer the same pitfalls that ensnared Allie Braswell in his brief campaign to be CFO. Unlike Braswell, Waldman is not going to embarrass state Democrats as a candidate.

At the very least, Waldman should help turn out the Democratic vote in his home turf in Broward County, the second most populous county in Florida. If Democrats are going to win their first gubernatorial election in 20 years, they need to do well in Broward. Having Waldman on the party ticket should help ensure that, even if he does not play as well in the rest of the state.

But Waldman has done next to nothing to show hes running either for CFO or attorney general. What he has done, however, is to file for the Florida Senate seat held by fellow Democrat Jeremy Ring who is term-limited in 2016.

Waldman could have competition. Skip Campbell said at the end of August that he is kicking over trying to return to the Senate, which would set up a showdown against Waldman. It would be a tough primary. Campbell is one of the leading attorneys in Broward County and is a proven candidate, winning three elections to serve in the Senate.

The one loss on Campbells record was his defeat at the hands of Bill McCollum in the 2006 attorney general race. To his credit, Campbell ran ahead of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis. He could be looking at a political comeback. Later this month, he will be helping with a fundraiser for dark horse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich.

Waldman certainly has his options in the months to come as he ponders whether to run for the Senate or seek a state Cabinet office. Its even possible that he could do both, though that would require a larger fundraising effort than he has ever faced. Regardless, Waldman is in an interesting situation in his last year in the House with future elections on the horizon.

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

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