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View Diary: Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 4/23 (412 comments)

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  •  FL-19: Post-mortem and general thoughts. (31+ / 0-)

    I have to say, I'm relieved that Lizbeth Benacquisto did not win the Republican nomination in the special election primary in Florida's 19th congressional district last night. I followed the election closely (and talked about it somewhat regularly with a friend who goes to school at Florida Gulf Coast) because she seemed like she would be an intimidating statewide candidate for Florida Republicans. She has the unique quality of being an extremely, extremely conservative Republican without externally appearing to be a Tea Partier, so she seems like someone who could appeal to Florida voters very well and would then serve in the Senate with a far-right record. She's also incredibly photogenic and unbelievably ambitious, so this isn't the last that we've seen of Lizbeth Benacquisto. Anyone who can go from being a village councilwoman to Majority Leader of the Florida Senate in two years has some impressive political skills.

    And she's apparently pretty desperate to win higher office, too--she moved from her home of nearly twenty years in Palm Beach County to Lee County, which is a two and a half hour drive from one coast of Florida to another, so that she could actually win re-election to the Florida State Senate. A little bit of context there: her original State Senate district oddly snaked from Palm Beach County all the way to Lee County, kind of how Florida's old 16th congressional district, which elected Mark Foley, Tim Mahoney, and Tom Rooney before being redrawn, did. When the districts were radically redrawn following the fair districts constitutional amendments, she opted to relocate her family to Fort Myers and ran for re-election in a Fort Myers-centered district. Anyhow, it explains why she decided to run advertisements ostensibly for her State Senate re-election campaign in the aftermath of former Congressman Trey Radel's resignation--she planned on running for Congress, and she realized that voters in the 19th congressional district, even those in her own State Senate district, had no idea who she was!

    Anyhow, it wasn't very surprising to me that Benacquisto did so poorly last night. Public Policy Polling surveyed the field a few days ago, and while they weren't able to hit the margin (they predicted that Clawson would win by 19%, when he really won by 12%), they correctly predicted that Clawson would end up at 38%, and that Benacquisto would finish just a little bit ahead of Paige Kreegel. Ultimately, she simply wasn't well-known enough in the district to do perform how a State Senate Majority Leader might be expected to perform, which left her vulnerable to a challenge from a self-funding, Tea Party-endorsed businessman. Even Sarah Palin's endorsement couldn't save her.

    This is really excellent news for Democrats, in the end. We didn't stand a chance in this district, but Benacquisto would've been a formidable candidate for statewide office. There's no overwhelming frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in 2016 (if Rubio opts to run for President) or 2018 (whether Nelson runs for re-election or retires). Most of Florida's Republican Congressmen are too old to realistically run campaigns for statewide office. Their strongest candidates right now are probably Congressman Tom Rooney, Congressman Dennis Ross, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, or CFO Jeff Atwater, but if Benacquisto had managed to win the nomination, she would've become an instant frontrunner, in my eyes, at least.

    Anyhow, I'm sorry for the long comment! I just wanted to add a little bit of insight into the implications of an election that, save for the occasional attack ad or poll, did not receive much attention on DKE because it's a foregone conclusion that a Republican will win the general election.

    20, FL-07. UCF student pursuing a B.A. in Political Science, future teacher/politician. Wes Neuman for Congress! "The Republican vision is clear: I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own." -Elizabeth Warren

    by Tyler Yeargain on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:19:27 AM PDT

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