Florida: the home of Disney World, snow birds (for half the year), the last known resting place of Governor Rick Scott's hair, and a host of competitive Congressional elections.
The Republicans have had complete control of redistricting for two cycles, and they have used it to turn the swing state's Congressional delegation solidly red. However, after running the table in 2010, the GOP is mostly on defense this year. Democrats know that in order to make real gains in the House they need to do well in Florida and are working to turn several seats blue.
On Tuesday, August 14, Florida will hold its primary. Unlike many states south of the Mason-Dixon line, a simple plurality is all that is needed to win a primary here. A number of safely Democratic and safely Republican seats will effectively have their next Congressman chosen on Tuesday. In other seats, both parties will be watching to see if their favored candidate comes up on top or if they are saddled with a less viable person. One House member will even be unseated on Tuesday, as Republicans Sandy Adams and John Mica wage a bitter incumbent vs. incumbent battle.
What follows is a guide to Florida's 2012 House races. Because some of the most interesting races will be between members of the same party I've rated how competitive the race is on a five ★ scale instead of which party is favored (though I say that too).
A ★ race is not competitive at all, absent a huge gaffe or scandal. For the most part I don't provide much detail about these races since there isn't much to say about them.
A ★★ race has the potential to be competitive, but has one candidate who is heavily favored.
A ★★★ race is competitive, with at least two candidates having a reasonable chance to win, but one candidate is still the clear favorite.
A ★★★★ features a very competitive race. One candidate has the edge but faces at least one opponent who has a good chance to pull off an upset.
A ★★★★★ race is reserved for the most competitive races in the state. These are the elections where millions will be spent from both inside and outside the district, blood and tears will be spilled, and careers will be made or destroyed.
A big shout out as always goes to the Daily Kos Elections team for their awesome cheat sheet that I made heavy use of for this guide.
Now let's get to the races!
Florida's 1st Congressional District: Jeff Miller (Republican, represents 95% of district), Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach.
President: Obama 32%, McCain 67%
Governor: Sink 30%, Scott 63%
White 75%, Black 15%, Hispanic 5%
Florida's 2nd Congressional District: Steve Southerland (Republican, represents 91% of district), Tallahassee, Panama City.
President: Obama 47%, McCain 52%
Governor: Sink 52%, Scott 45%
White 67%, Black 25%, Hispanic 5%
Freshman Steve Southerland was one of the big winners of the 2010 GOP landslide, taking this Republican-treading district by double digits from Blue Dog Democrat Allen Boyd. State Representative Leonard Bembry and former State Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson are competing for the right to take on Southerland. Bembry, a white self described conservative Democrat, is touting himself as the most electable candidate. Bembry has the support of the Blue Dog Democratic caucus but has struggled with fundraising: he only has $37,000 on hand after spending $47,000 in the last month.
Al Lawson, a more liberal African American, came close to unseating Boyd in the 2010 Democratic primary and looks like he has a good chance to win the nomination this time. Lawson is benefiting from union support, a Senate district that overlaps well with this one, and praise for his response to the BP oil spill. Lawson also has a big fundraising advantage over Bembry, spending $260,000 in the last month with $101,000 left over. Lawson's foes are attacking his Democratic credentials, accusing him of helping the GOP pass bills in the legislature. Given how close Lawson came to victory in 2010 against an opponent much better known and better funded than Bembry, Lawson looks like he has a good shot to defeat Bembry. Race does not seem to be an issue in the primary, though racial voting patterns may give Lawson a boost in a district where a good portion of Democratic voters are black.
Two other Democrats, Alvin Peters and Mark Schlakman, are running. Peters may have some name recognition from his recent failed bid for mayor of Panama City but his fundraising has been weak, while Schlakman is barely known. The general election will be tough for either Bembry or Lawson: Southerland has $717,000 on hand and it's a good bet that Romney will win the district. Southerland has presented himself as a big Obama opponent and will almost certainly attack the Democrats on health care reform (even the conservative Bembry supports it). This ancestrally Democratic district is winnable, but Southerland so far looks like the favorite against either Bembry or Lawson.
Florida's 3rd Congressional District: Cliff Stearns (Republican, represents 66% of district), Clay County, Lake City, eastern Gainesville.
President: Obama 40%, McCain 59%
Governor: Sink 40%, Scott 56%
74% White, 15% Black, 8% Hispanic
This race looked interesting for about five seconds earlier this year. One of Stearns' three opponents, Clay County Clerk of the Circuit Court Jimmy Jett, accused the Congressman of trying to bribe him to leave the race. Had this gone anywhere Stearns could have been in real political and legal jeopardy, but with no developments in the case Stearns looks set for another term. The Congressman has two other primary foes, State Senator and former Alachua sheriff Steve Oelrich, and veterinarian Ted Yoho. None of Stearns' opponents have raised or spent much money (Yoho has the most cash on hand with $130,000, and spent the most in the last month at $45,000), while Stearns has over $2 million in his war chest. Stearns will also benefit from three opponents spitting whatever anti-Stearns vote there is. The Congressman should have no problem winning re-nomination here, and faces little general election opposition in this heavily GOP district.
Florida's 4th Congressional District: Ander Crenshaw (Republican, represents 86% of district), eastern Jacksonville, southern Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach.
President: Obama 37%, McCain 63%
Governor: Sink 36%, Scott 61%
White 72%, Black 15%, Hispanic 8%
Florida's 5th Congressional District: Corrie Brown (Democrat, represents 81% of district), central Jacksonville, eastern Gainesville, eastern Orlando.
President: Obama 71%, McCain 29%
Governor: Sink 65%, Scott 32%
32% White, 54% Black, 12% Hispanic
Florida's 6th Congressional District: OPEN, Saint Augustine, Palm Coast, Daytona Beach.
President: Obama 45%, McCain 53%
Governor: Sink 41%, Scott 55%
White 80%, Black 10%, Hispanic 7%
Several Republicans are running for this open seat, with the winner very likely to head to Washington in November. Former Navy JAG officer and first time candidate Ron DeSantis has gotten the most attention from national Republicans, starting with his book on conservative principles. He has appeared on Sean Hanity's FOX show, is backed by big money groups like FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, Citizens United (Yes, that Citizens United), and the Conservative Victory Fund. He also has the endorsement of Tea Party favorite Senator Mike Lee, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, Donald Trump, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam; the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) has also praised him. DeSantis has so far outspent the rest of the field, spending $183,000 in the last month with a hefty $214,000 left. DeSantis is using his financial dominance to his advantage, producing ads portraying his foes as liberals: most of the other candidates admit they don't have the resources to respond. The Conservative Action Fund has also spent $25,000 attacking his opponents. However, he has not been safe from attacks: in recent days his poor voting history has gotten attention. DeSantis recently produced a poll showing him leading his nearest opponent State Representative Fred Costello 27%-22%, with the rest in single digits.
As a long time elected official, Costello likely started the race with the most name recognition, especially in voter rich Volusia County. He has the backing of the next three Speakers of the State House, and he has spent $149,000 in the last month (though he has very little left). In recent days he has been attacked for joining Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns while he was a local mayor. Costello also has gotten some attention by refusing to sign a no tax pledge.
Jacksonville City Councilor Fred Clark is also in the hunt, and he has some money behind him. While Clark's own fundraising has been poor, the Coastal Florida's Future PAC has spent $95,000 supporting him or attacking DeSantis. Clark has talked up his small business background, and is the only candidate beside DeSantis to get praise from the NRCC.
Businessman Craig Miller is making his second attempt to run for the House. He was the close third place primary finisher for a seat in 2010 that includes very little of this one, and he ran for the Senate this cycle before dropping down to the House again. Craig is backed by his fellow former head of the National Restaurant Association Herman Cain. Miller has spent $147,000 in the last month but has little left, and so far doesn't seem to be pouring more of his own money in. This does not mean Miller is giving up: he has not been shy about attacking his foes.
Bev Slough, a St. Johns County school board member, rounds out the field (apart from a pair of Some Dudes). She has little money but is hoping to stand out from the crowd as the only woman in the race and by emphasizing education.
Given his cash advantage and the vast amount of attention he has received, this is probably DeSantis' race to lose. Still, in a crowded race Costello and Clark look like they have a shot, with Miller having the possibility to surprise if he gets very lucky. The general election should be a lot less competitive. Democrats have talked up former Navy Officer Heather Beaven but she does not look like she'll have the resources she needs to win such a red district. Unless something changes the Tuesday GOP primary looks to decide the next member of Congress here.
Florida's 7th Congressional District: Sandy Adams (Republican, represents 51% of district), John Mica (Republican, represents 42% of district), Deltona, Sanford, Winter Park.
President: Obama 49%, McCain 50%
Governor: Sink 46%, Scott 51%
White 68%, Black 10%, Hispanic 19%
The state's only incumbent vs. incumbent Congressional match pits freshman Sandy Adams against ten-termer and Transportation Chair John Mica. Both members are attempting to run to the right: Adams is calling Mica a champion of wasteful spending, has attacking him on his overseas trips, is hitting him for voting to raise the debt ceiling and for supporting toll roads, and running an ad featuring Obama praising Mica. Mica has fired back, portraying himself as an opponent of Democrats while Adams does nothing but talk, and airing ads attacking Adams for her votes against spending cuts and for for spending stimulus money in the state legislature.
Both camps have their share of supporters. Adams is backed by the Tea Party Express (though they have yet to spend on her), Sarah Palin, Joe Arapio, and a number of Florida House freshmen including Tea Party favorite Allen West. Mica has in his corner Mike Huckabee, Democratic Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, the mayors of Winter Park and Sanford, and the Orlando Sentinel.
If Adams can harness right-wing anger at establishment politicians she has a shot to unseat Mica, but so far the senior Congressman looks like the clear favorite. Mica has much more money on hand than Adams, $960,000 to $453,000, and heavily outspent her $431,000 to $78,000 in the last month. There has also been almost no outside spending to help Adams narrow the gap. The only recent poll that has been publicly released is a mid-July Mica poll showing him defeating Adams by a punishing 55%-17%; the fact that Adams has not produced her own poll to counter it is not a good sign for her. Unless something unexpected happens, Mica should win the primary. The general election will be a lot less eventful: neither Democrat has raised much money, and the GOP enjoys an edge here.
Florida's 8th Congressional District: Bill Posey (Republican, represents 79% of district), Cape Canaveral, Melbourne, Palm Bay.
President: Obama 44%, McCain 55%
Governor: Sink 40%, Scott 55%
White 77%, Black 11%, Hispanic 9%
Florida's 9th Congressional District: OPEN, eastern Orlando, Kissimmee.
President: Obama 60%, McCain 39%
Governor: Sink 53%, Scott 43%
White 40%, Black 15%, Hispanic 44%
Former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson is seeking a comeback in this district, and his chances of success may depend on who emerges from the GOP primary. The Republicans have recruited Osceola County chairman John Quinones: Quinones is Puerto Rican and may be able to peel off enough normally-Democratic Puerto Rican voters to win. Democrats are hoping the GOP instead goes with attorney Todd Long, who came close to unseating then-Congressman Ric Keller in the 2008 primary. Quinone outspent Long $76,000 to $10,000 in the last month, and has a cash-on-hand lead of $45,000 to $3,500. However, Democrats are working to help the much less electable Long cross the finish line. Grayson recently spent $300,000 attacking Quinones as a tax-raiser, and the Democratic allied House Majority PAC spent $64,000 hitting Quinones. However, the House Majority PAC has also unexpectedly attacked Long with $17,000 worth of direct mail, perhaps trying to help a different Republican. Two other GOPers are running here: school board member Julius Melendez has the endorsement of the Orlando Sentinel but little money, while Mark Oxner has done little but produce an over-the-top anti-Grayson web ad. While the four Republicans would perform differently against Grayson, they share most of the same conservative views.
Grayson, who had a reputation for fiery rhetoric during his one term in Congress, is armed with over $1 million to spend. If Long or much less likely Oxner is the GOP nominee, this seat is almost certain to go Democratic. However, Quinones or Melendez could appeal to enough Puerto Rican voters to win here. Grayson's probably the favorite to take the seat, but this is one primary that could decide how hard he needs to fight for it.
Florida's 10th Congressional District: Daniel Webster (Republican, represents 56% of district), central Orlando, Disney World.
President: Obama 47%, McCain 52%
Governor: Sink 44%, Scott 52%
White 67%, Black 13%, Hispanic 16%
Democrats got a skilled recruit in former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, but redistricting has made this a tough race for her. Demings leads Webster in cash-on-hand $632,000 to $577,000 and has been praised by national Democrats. Demings also has a great biography: she rose from humble beginnings to become the chief of police, and crime dropped under her watch. Still, with this district turning red, she'll more than have her work cut out for her. National Democrats have not given up here, so this one should be worth watching to see if Demings can win over enough conservative voters to have a shot here.
Florida's 11th District: Rich Nugent (Republican, represents 59% of district), Ocala, The Villages, Spring Hill.
President: Obama 43%, McCain 56%
Governor: Sink 40%, Scott 55%
White 80%, Black 9%, Hispanic 9%
Florida's 12th Congressional District: Gus Bilirakis (Republican, represents 57% of district), Pasco County, Palm Harbor.
President: Obama 47%, McCain 52%
Governor: Sink 43%, Scott 52%
White 81%, Black 9%, Hispanic 7%
Florida's 13th Congressional District: C.W. Bill Young (Republican, represents 83% of district), Clearwater, Largo, Saint Petersburg.
President: Obama 51%, McCain 47%
Governor: Sink 49%, Scott 47%
Since he was first elected in 1970, Young has had little trouble holding this district. Former Congressional staffer Jessica Ehrlich is hoping to change that; she has attracted the attention of national Democrats, with House Whip Steny Hoyer stumping for her in May. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) also recently released a poll showing Young leading 49%-35%, arguing that it shows the incumbent is vulnerable. Young also gained some attention when he told a man asking about minimum wage increases to "get a job." Still, Ehrlich has a very tough race ahead. She trails Young in cash $282,000 to $47,000 and starts out with very little name recognition. This one's worth keeping an eye on, but Young is likely to once again cruise to reelection.
Florida's 14th Congressional District: Kathy Castor (Democrat, represents 85% of district), Tampa, Town 'n' Country.
President: Obama 65%, McCain 34%
Governor: Sink 61%, Scott 36%
White 42%, Black 29%, Hispanic 28%
Florida's 15th Congressional District: Dennis Ross (Republican, represents 53% of district), Brandon, Lakeland.
President: Obama 46%, McCain 53%
Governor: Sink 44%, Scott 53%
White 65%, Black 14%, Hispanic 17%
Florida's 16th Congressional District: Vern Buchanan (Republican, represents 96% of district), Bradenton, Sarasota.
President: Obama 48%, McCain 51%
Governor: Sink 44%, Scott 52%
White 80%, Black 7%, Hispanic 11%
This race is a battle between Vern Buchanan's money and his ethics. Buchanan has long been under investigation for allegedly using his companies to illegally reimburse donors; while the House Ethics Committee recently dismissed some of the charges, the FBI and IRS are continuing to look into it. Buchanan recently earned some unfavorable headlines when he avoided testifying under oath, claiming his lawyer was ill. Democrats have recruited former State Representative Keith Fitzgerald to face Buchanan. Fitzgerald has raised $672,000, a strong number for a challenger, and he has even out-raising Buchanan several times. However, Buchanan's fortune is worth millions and he has already reserved $4 million in ads, and can spend more if need be.
For now, both parties agree Buchanan is ahead but disagree by how much. A Buchanan internal poll showed him crushing Fitzgerald 54%-32%; a Fitzgerald poll found a much smaller 44%-36% Buchanan lead. (The Fitzgerald poll found Romney leading Obama by a reasonable 49%-44% while Buchanan's poll did not include Presidential numbers). For Fitzgerald to win a Republican-leaning district in the face of a huge cash disadvantage he probably needs Buchanan's legal troubles to stay in the news. With Buchanan needing to testify sooner or later, Fitzgerald may get what he needs.
Florida's 17th Congressional District: Tom Rooney (Republican, represents 37% of district), Sebring, Port Charlotte.
President: Obama 43%, McCain 56%
Governor: Sink 39%, Scott 55%
White 71%, Black 10%, Hispanic 18%
Florida's 18th Congressional District: Allen West (Republican, represents 23% of district), Port St. Lucie, Jupiter.
President: Obama 51%, McCain 48%
Governor: Sink 47%, Scott 49%
White 71%, Black 13%, Hispanic 14%
Allen West, hero to the Tea Party and villain to the Democratic Party, faces a formidable Democratic challenger who seeks to turn West's many incendiary statements against him. First, West must defeat Martin County Sheriff Bob Crowder in the primary. Crowder has raised and spent very little money (he's only raised $74,000 during the entire campaign), has not taken a stance on divisive issues like health care reform and even whether to support Mitt Romney, and endorsed Alex Sink in 2010. In other words, despite his popularity in Martin County, Crowder is very unlikely to get anywhere close to unseating West.
West's bigger challenge will come from Democratic businessman Patrick Murphy (not to be confused with the former Pennsylvania Congressman with the same name), who like West hails from Broward County outside the district. Murphy is using ads to both emphasize his background in construction while portraying West as a bully. Murphy's father has also set up a Super PAC to help him, and ran a controversial ad where a caricature of West punched an elderly woman. West has sought to temper his image in his ads, and attack Murphy for negativity. West recently handed Murphy a good attack line when he compared social security disability to slavery. This race will be one of the most expensive in the country: West has over $3 million on hand, while Murphy has $805,000 and his allies have already spent $124,000 here. Given how evenly divided the district is and West's proven ability to polarize voters, this contest should be close until Election Day.
Florida's 19th Congressional District: OPEN, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs.
President: Obama 42%, McCain 57%
Governor: Sink 35%, Scott 61%
White 71%, Black 13%, Hispanic 14%
This open Republican seat has set off a primary free-for all. The best-known name here is probably Chauncey Goss, a former Congressional staffer and the son of former Congressman Porter Goss. The younger Goss has some powerful supporters on his side including former Governor Jeb Bush, conservative pundit Erick Erickson, and Paul Ryan, who's (in) famous budget Goss helped author. Goss' fundraising has been decent though not overwhelming: he spent $110,000 in the last month with $128,000 left. Goss has also come under attack for living in Washington DC for so long.
State Representative Gary Aubuchon is another candidate who may have a shot here. Aubuchon, a powerful legislator who owns a home building company bearing his name, is backed by CFO Jeff Atwater and is on the air running ads promising to rein in spending and talking up his experience. His fundraising has been decent: he spent $134,000 in July and has $166,000 left. He also has some friends giving him a hand: the National Association of Realtors dropped $33,000 to help him.
Former TV anchor turned talk radio host Trey Radel has more money being spent for him and against him than anyone else. Radel, who has the support of incumbent Connie Mack IV and former Senator Connie Mack III, is trying to stand out from the crowd by portraying himself as not a typical politician. Radel recently spent $147,000 and has a hefty $311,000 left over; his allies at the Conservative Values Project have also dumped $135,000 to help him. However, Radel has been on the receiving end of $120,000 from the Character Counts Political Action Committee; the group is attacking him for his business activities involving companies with sexually explicit domain names.
State Representative Paige Kreegel rounds out the field of viable Republican candidates. (Two minor GOPers are also running). Kreegel is not well known but he is well funded; he has spent $365,000 in the last month, with $220,000 on hand. Kreegel has a reputation as a political maverick, and is being attacked as a liberal.
No polling has been released, but internal polls reportedly show a close race between Goss, Aubuchon, and Radel. In this district the GOP primary is tantamount to election, and it does not look like anyone has the inside path to victory here.
Florida's 20th Congressional District: Alcee Hastings (Democrat, represents 73% of district), Tamarac, western Pompano Beach, western Fort Lauderdale.
President: Obama 80%, McCain 19%
Governor: Sink 78%, Scott 20%
White 25%, Black 54%, Hispanic 19%
Florida's 21st Congressional District: Ted Deutch (Democrat, represents 76% of district), Wellington, Coral Springs, Margate.
President: Obama 64%, McCain 36%
Governor: Sink 61%, Scott 36%
White 63%, Black 13%, Hispanic 20%
Florida's 22nd Congressional District: OPEN, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, eastern Fort Lauderdale.
President: Obama 57%, McCain 43%
Governor: Sink 53%, Scott 44%
White 66%, Black 12%, Hispanic 20%
Former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel is the favorite in both the Democratic primary and the general election. Frankel faces Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs on Tuesday. There are few policy differences between Frankel and Jacobs but Frankel is better known from her long career in public office, has the backing of the DCCC and Emily's List, recently received a supportive visit from Nancy Pelosi, and is endorsed by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Frankel also has a huge cash lead: Frankel was one of Allen West's opponents until West ran in a different district and used him as a foil to raise a good deal of money. Frankel outspent Jacobs $468,000 to $87,000, and has $949,000 left compared to Jacobs' $48,000. Jacobs is trying to make Frankel's ethics an issue: a 2007 Grand Jury investigation criticized the pay to play culture of West Palm Beach's city hall while Frankel was mayor, but did not indict anyone. Unless there is a massive surprise, Frankel will be the Democratic nominee here.
The district leans Democratic, but the GOP has a solid recruit in former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. Hasner and his allies have already begun attacking Frankel. Hasner, armed with $1 million on hand, will likely try to use Israel to hit Democrats in this heavily Jewish district, and he will doubtlessly bring up Frankel's ethics. Frankel may suffer some from disorganization: she is already on her third campaign manager. However, with her reputation as a pit-bull Frankel is unlikely to take any attacks lying down and she and national Democrats will likely continue to hit the GOP on Medicare. Hasner has a chance to pull off an upset, but Frankel should be favored to defeat him.
Florida's 23rd Congressional District: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Democrat, represents 66% of district), Pembroke Pines, Hollywood.
President: Obama 62%, McCain 38%
Governor: Sink 60%, Scott 38%
White 48%, Black 12%, Hispanic 37%
Florida's 24th Congressional District: Frederica Wilson (Democrat, represents 80% of district), Miramar, Miami Gardens, northern Miami.
President: Obama 86%, McCain 14%
Governor: Sink 85%, Scott 14%
12% White, 58% Black, 32% Hispanic
Frederica Wilson defeated wealthy doctor and aspiring actor Rudy Moise 35%-16% to take what was an open seat in 2010. Calling for new leadership, Moise is back for a rematch and is hoping to rally fellow Caribbean American against the African American Wilson. In a strange set of events, two Presidents endorsed here: Moise is backed by Haitian President Michel Martelly, while Wilson is supported by Barack Obama.
Moise has heavily outspent Wilson in the last month $160,000 to $29,000, though this has driven his campaign into debt. This is about all Moise has going for him: Wilson has the Democratic establishment, unions, and the Miami Herald on her side, and a national profile after she called for jailing George Zimmerman following Trayvon Martin's shooting. Unless there is a big surprise, Wilson should win easily on Tuesday. The winner of the Democratic primary will have no opposition in November.
Florida's 25th Congressional District: Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican, represents 51% of district), Hialeah, Immokalee.
President: Obama 46%, McCain 54%
Governor: Sink 41%, Scott 57%
White 21%, Black 8%, Hispanic 70%
Florida's 26th Congressional District: David Rivera (Republican, represents 69% of district), Kendell, The Everglades, Key West.
President: Obama 50%, McCain 50%
Governor: Sink 49%, Scott 49%
White 20%, Black 11%, Hispanic 69%
Even before he entered Congress, David Rivera was facing serious questions about his ethics. He appeared to catch a break when the state dropped the investigation of his alleged misuse of funds and secret dog-track payment: however, the Federal investigation continues, and Rivera can expect a tough reelection in this swing seat.
Two credible Democrats entered the race after the previous Democratic campaign self destructed earlier this year. Former Miami-Dade County party chair and 2008 and 2010 nominee Joe Garcia is trying again and he enjoys union support. His opponent is hotel businesswoman Gloria Romero Roses, who was recruited by people with ties to the DCCC and is endorsed by EMILY's List and the Miami Herald. The race has gotten nasty: several unions are angry at Romero Roses from her management of a condo company and Garcia has called her anti-labor. Romero Roses has attacked back, linking Garcia to Enron and calling him an opportunist and repeat loser. Self-funding has allowed Romero Roses to outspend Garcia $280,000 to $105,000, and she maintains a cash lead of $197,000 to $132,000. Garcia probably has the advantage on Tuesday due to superior name recognition, but Romero Roses looks strong enough to pull off a surprise. Two more minor candidates are running: one of them, Justin Lamar Sternad, has exclusively attacked Garcia and ignored Rivera, leading many to suspect that he's a GOP plant plant.
Whoever wins the Democratic primary will have a good shot to defeat Rivera, but it will not be easy. Rivera still commands support within the district and is seen as a tough opponent. If the Cuban-American Rivera faces the Columbia-born Romero Roses in this heavily Cuban district, Rivera may also benefit from ethnic ties. The embargo of Cuba is likely to be an issue: Garcia supports lifting it, a stance that is popular in Key West's more liberal Monroe County but despised among Rivera and older Cuban voters. Rivera's fundraising has been weak, but he still has $246,000 on hand and the help of the NRCC. This race is likely to be hard fought all the way until November, though further developments in Rivera's case could save him or end his career.
Florida's 27th Congressional District: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican, represents 67% of district), most of Miami, Coral Gables.
President: Obama 49%, McCain 51%
Governor: Sink 48%, Scott 51%
White 18%, Black 9%, Hispanic 74%
Disagree with my ratings? Did I make a mistake? Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments!