With few reasons for Florida voters to head to the polls on Tuesday, there are low expectations for enthusiasm and turnout.
The top of the ticket for both parties are snoozers — Republican Rick Scott faces a set of tomato cans, while Charlie Crist is expected to lap fellow Democrat Nan Rich. There isn’t a U.S. Senate race to generate interest as there has been in other statees, and there are few congressional races with genuine primaries.
It’s difficult to make bold predictions with so few bold stories in play, but I’ll try…
1. Charlie Crist will win 73% of the vote. That may not be a bold prediction if you believe the Florida GOP’s bracketing of the race, but it really says something that he has won this battle without firing a real shot. What’s also impressive is that the Crist campaign is not treating this election like a pre-season game; it’s implementing strategies from Obamaworld, its testing GOTV programs … it’s taking this all very seriously.
And things are about to get a lot better for Crist come Wednesday morning. He will be facing his opponent heads-on — no more sniping from the left, no more mailers from Progressive Choice, no more Republican-funded faux liberal organizations, etc. Meanwhile, President Obama and Bill Clinton will soon visit the state to rally the base in a base-election.
2. George Sheldon in a walk. Correct me if I am wrong, but neither Sheldon, nor his primary opponent Perry Thurston aired a single television commercial in the race for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General — that’s how low-key this race has been. Having been on a statewide ballot before, Sheldon is just a little more familiar to voters, although Thurston can count on monolithic support from African Americans.
3. We will not know who the Speaker of the Florida House in 2021 will be after tonight. Off-the-radar from 99% of Florida voters is the intense race between Representative Eric Eisnaugle and, most likely, the not-even-elected-yet Chris Sprowls to lead the Florida House at the start of the next decade. Proxy battles between Eisnaugle and not-Eisnaugle are being decided to today in several state House races, such as Polk County’s HD 40 and Sarasota’s HD 74. With wins in those seats and others, Eisnaugle would have a strong enough hand to declare himself the winner in this most insider-y fight, but I predict Eisnaugle’s side won’t win enough races today — Mike Miller will defeat Mo Pearson in HD 40 and it will be a split in HD 40 and 74 — that Eisnaugle’s ambitions will have to wait until at least November.
4. Sean Shaw will hold off Ed Narain in the Democratic primary in HD 61. This has been a fascinating race, if for no other reason than there are so few competitive Dem. primaries. In fact, there’s only one in any seat considered to be truly competitive in the general election (that would be HD 67, where I am predicting so-called frontrunner Shawna Vercher will lose today). Shaw had been leading Narain in the polls through much of this race, but Narain gained the edge about ten days ago. Were enough early ballots cast by mail to give Shaw a cushion going into Election Day? Or will the Crist GOTV machine, if it can be called that, churn up enough votes today for Narain to win? Somehow, this race has implications on Jack Latvala’s Senate President ambitions, so be sure to keep an eye on the results coming out of Hillsborough.
5. There won’t be any Dave Brat’s emerging out of today’s primary elections. Ever since Brat knocked off former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, he’s been used as a bogeyman by political consultants to scare establishment candidates into work harder (“You don’t want to be the next Eric Cantor, do you?”) And while the nature of black swans like Brat is that they’re nearly impossible to predict when they will occur, there just isn’t enough in play today to expect one to appear. U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho will be fine. State Senator Thad Altman will be fine. The establishment will be fine … right up until it’s not.
So those are my five bold predictions for today. If you’d like me to pick a winner in an individual race, leave the request in the comments below.