Vern Buchanan Looks Strong Headed into November

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: July 23, 2014 3:55 AM
Vern Buchanan

Vern Buchanan

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 Obama’s and Bill Nelson’s 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 haven’t 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 couldn’t 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.

Comments (5)

Paul Cajka Sr
4:15PM JUL 26TH 2014
I have no problem with Vern being rich and big businessman. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed aren't exactly buying groceries with a SNAP card. The Democrats tried recycling Keith Fitzgerald in 2012. Bring him back again and I'll be happy to help send him packing again.
12:39PM JUL 23RD 2014
The below comments indicate how demoralized the Democrats are.
Will Bronson
7:54AM JUL 23RD 2014
Don't assume it is all about the money. Look at the Cantor loss. Some day the electorate will wake up and realize that it is not wise to send to Washington those who have millions of dollars of obligations to millionaires and billionaires. That's why the table is slanted toward the 1% who have taken 85% of the productivity gains of all Americans. That's why the middle class is hanging on by their fingernails. If Americans want change they better start electing people that look more like them. I took 41.4% from Tom Rooney in 2012 in FL 17, an R+10 district and only spent $20,000. I'm back for a rematch. The court is still out as to whether it is only about money, but if it is, we are all finished.
Joe McGillicudy
7:39AM JUL 23RD 2014
A powerful guy locally, lots of money, threw it around....smart yes. Sent him to Washington and he has absolutely NOTHING. Oh he sends out questionaire's and ask's all the right questions but he doesn't do anything after that. Ask him what he's done? Nothing! Ask him who he has helped? Nobody? I should have voted for Jennings. It's sad he was one of the top 10 richest men in Congress and should have been one of their leaders instead NOTHING. Come on Sarasota find somebody that can take a leadership role and work for our area. It's embarrassing.
duane Overholt/Consumer Advocate
7:11AM JUL 23RD 2014
I cannot believe that the people in Vern Buchanan's district can just over look all the personal actions by Vern, his family past actions/businesses and his family current business profile. Just look at his record in congress. He promises the world and really gives nothing. Unless it supports himself and his person business. Which hurts the public across the board.

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