Dozens of state legislators earned new terms in office as Florida’s qualifying period for the 2014 election ended Friday.
With Qualifying Week over, here are 11 takeaways now that the playbill for this Fall’s elections is set.
1. Eight state senators — or nearly one-quarter of the Florida Senate — were re-elected without opposition. Nearly one-third of the members in the Florida House also earned new two-year terms since no one qualified to run against them. In other words, millions of Floridians are apparently content — or just bored — with their state lawmakers.
2. Senators Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson were re-elected without opposition. Galvano is all but the Senate President Designates for 2018-19, while Simpson would like to be SPD for 2020-21, but has to first win the post away from Tom Lee. Look to see a lot of Galvano and Simpson in SD 22 (Jeff Brandes vs. Judithanne McLauchlan) and SD 34 (likely Ellyn Bogdanoff vs. Maria Sachs) as they look to firm up support for their Senate President bids.
3. Some smart folks in Tallahassee tell me that there is some concern about Republican incumbent Thad Altman and whether he can hold off primary challenger Monique Miller. I keep hearing how Miller, a party activist from Brevard, is positioned “to Cantor” Altman. I won’t pretend to know that much about this race but there certainly was a buzz about it when I was in the capital last week.
4. If Qualifying Week proved one thing, it’s that Florida House Democrats make up the Caucus Which Can’t Shoot Straight. Minority Leader-to-be Mark Pafford had some sort of difficulty with his qualifying because of an issue with a campaign check. Rep. Mia Jones waited until the last minute to turn in her paperwork. And, most embarrassing, Rep. Reggie Fullwood did not properly turn in his qualifying paperwork. This will require the state to set a new qualifying period for the seat.
7. Tampa Bay was already the epicenter of this year’s legislative campaign cycle before Qualifying Week and last week’s developments only made it more so. There are no less than six races — HD 63, HD 65, HD 66, HD 67, HD 68, and HD 69 — where both parties have fielded capable candidates. There are, at best, 13 competitive state House seats up for grabs this cycle and Tampa Bay is home to half of them.
8. Because of his arrest earlier this year for DUI, Rep. Dane Eagle may have trouble keeping his HD 77 seat. I predict otherwise. Eagle’s is now running against three other Republicans in a closed primary because a last-minute write-in candidate qualified on Friday.
9. No, former Congressman David Rivera did not jump into the HD 105 race against Carlos Trujillo. On Thursday morning , this blog reported that he was leaning that way, but after the story posted, House leadership dropped the hammer on Rivera, saying they would put in the resources necessary to protect Trujillo. Rivera quickly backed down.
10. For my money, the most interesting House race outside of Tampa Bay may be in HD 112, where well-connected Republican Daniel Diaz Leyva is challenging Democrat incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez. This is, by far, the most interesting House race in South Florida — one with implications for the race to be Speaker of the House in 2021-22.
11. According to Republican political consultant David Johnson, the top swing performance House District during the 2012 cycle between the presidential result and the legislative race result was HD 120. Maybe that’s why Florida Democrats failed to recruit a candidate for a seat held by their House leader only three years ago.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.