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Politics

Vern Buchanan Looks Strong Headed into November

July 21, 2014 - 6:00pm
Democrats may have made Vern Buchanan a target in 2012 but this time out, the Florida Republican has little to worry about.

After redistricting last time out, Democrats hoped to take Buchanan down and brought in Keith Fitzgerald, a former state representative, to challenge him. Fitzgerald never quite caught fire and, even with Barack Obamas and Bill Nelsons coattails, ended up losing to Buchanan by 7 percent.

Democrats hoped for better luck this time out with Henry Lawrence who played more than a decade in the National Football League (NFL), going to Pro Bowls and winning three Super Bowls as a member of the Oakland and later Los Angeles Raiders.

Lawrence has an inspiring story, growing up as a migrant farmer to becoming a Super Bowl champion and a leading member of the community. But his congressional campaign has been pathetic. By the end of June, Lawrence had raised only $3,519 and had to rely on his own monies, leaving his campaign $13,500 in debt. By the end of June, Lawrence had only $173 in the bank.

Buchanan, on the other hand, is cruising to a fifth term in the House. By the end of June, he was sitting on $748,000 and had already raised more than $1.4 million for the campaign. Buchanan has had some close calls before, namely in 2006 against Democrat Christine Jennings and, to a far lesser extent, against Fitzgerald, but he has also scored some big wins. Despite 2008 being a good year for Democrats, Buchanan ran over Jennings in the rematch. Buchanan also routed Democrat James Golden back in 2010. So far, 2014 is shaping up as another big win for Buchanan.

Though his name has popped up before as a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate, Buchanan, who is now 63, appears likely to remain in the House for the future. Over the years, he has been hit by ethics charges but he has been cleared and remains standing. The ethics charges might hurt Buchanan if he ever looks to move beyond the House but they clearly havent hurt him in his district. Nor have they hurt him moving up the House ranks. Buchanan is the only Floridian on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and he has thrown his weight around on a number of issues, including getting Florida ports ready for the Panama Canal expansion.

With an easy assignment in November, Buchanan should be set to continue to be one of the leading congressmen from Florida in the years to come. Democrats couldnt knock Buchanan off in good years for them, like 2006 and 2012. With a candidate with little cash, Democrats should not expect to topple Buchanan this time out, either.

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

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