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Across legislative landscape, Democrats still face long odds

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Out of power for more than a decade in Tallahassee, Florida Democrats failed to field challengers for 33 of the 76 GOP-held House seats this year, even though voter-registration trends have made many of them more favorable for the minority party.

Reps. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood; Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island; Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland; and John Legg, R-New Port Richey, have already won re-election without a fight. Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando has also won another two-year term without opposition.

In other seats, a Democratic name will appear on the ballot – but most will be hopelessly outgunned by Republicans with a 10-to-1 financial advantage.

In 2008, Barack Obama won a majority of the votes in 17 current House districts held by Republicans. But there are only a handful in Central and South Florida where Democrats have any hope of being competitive.

The trend isn’t unique to this election. But it helps explain why the Republican-controlled Legislature is going to great lengths to scuttle the Fair Districts Florida redistricting amendments.

In the last six months, the Legislature had spent more than $650,000 on lawyers to fight Amendments 5 and 6 as well as defending the now-scrapped Amendment 7, which a Leon County judge removed from the ballot this month because he said it didn’t make clear it would undermine the existing rule that legislative districts be drawn “contiguously.” That cost is expected to grow as the legal fights work their way to the Florida Supreme Court later this summer.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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