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Ruth’s List picks 7 Florida candidates as “Women 2 Watch”

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Pro-abortion rights Democratic organization Ruth’s List included seven 2016 Florida House and Senate candidates on its “Women 2 Watch” list last week, which puts them in line for financial and campaign support.

The only Senate candidate on the list so far is Lauren Book. Since filing for the seat in September, the District 33 candidate has had a string of blockbuster fundraising months and, through December, has more than $1.2 million cash-on-hand across her campaign and committee accounts.

The group is also backing Loranne Ausley in the safely Democratic House District 9 seat though four of other five candidates on the Women 2 Watch list are facing uphill battles against incumbent Republicans. The fifth, House District 114 candidate Daisy Baez, still faces stiff competition in a GOP-leaning district.

Baez ended up with 44 percent of the vote in the 2014 cycle when she ran against incumbent Republican Rep. Erik Fresen. In 2016, her likely adversary is Republican John D. Couriel, who has about $105,000 on hand through December. Baez, who filed for the seat in October, has about $29,000 on hand.

The list also included House District 47 candidate Beth Tuura, an Emmy-winning technical director, and House District 63 candidate Lisa Montelione, a member of the Tampa City Council, and House District 103 candidate Ivette Petkovitch, a lawyer. All three districts have favorable voter registration numbers and House Districts 47 and 63 have even flip-flopped between parties the last two election cycles. Tuura and Montelione each have about $15,000 on hand while Petkovitch finished the year with about $17,000 on hand.

House District 59 Democrat Rene Upshaw-Frazier faces the longest odds of the bunch in her contest against Republican Rep. Ross Spano. The incumbent took 58 percent of the vote in 2014 though, in 2012, the split between him and Democratic opponent Gail Gottlieb was less than 2 percent. Upshaw-Frazier could be successful if Democrats show up in 2012 numbers, but she also faces well-funded primary challenger Golnaz Sahebzamani.

Ruth’s List said in its announcement that the list could grow depending on how the changes to Senate districts pan out over the coming weeks. If maps approved by Florida Courts at the end of 2015 survive appeals, Democrats could be in a position to pick up as many as six Senate seats.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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