Seven Democratic state House primaries to watch

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The most interesting primaries to watch around the state are mostly on the GOP side. August 14th will see Mack-Weldon, Lee-Burgin, Frishe-Brandes, Weinstein-Bean, Dorworth-Mofitt-Onset and several other high profile races decided. Here is the Political Hurricane’s look at the seven most compelling Democratic primaries (Be sure to visit and bookmark the Political Hurricane; the writers there are offering about insightful, progressive commentary.)

House District 7

Leonard Bembry’s decision to run for Congress opened up this seat which was highly altered by reapportionment. AJ Smith Thomas Dickens, Robert Hill all have competing bases in this sprawling district. Each of the three has done a decent job of raising money to this point making this races a battle between interest groups and different parts of the district. Each of the three candidates has different support from “official” Tallahassee, with lobbying groups playing a big role competing in this seat. The winner will face a strong Republican likely Halsey Beshears in November.

House District 21

Conservative Republican Keith Perry has been thrown into a district that should elect a Democrat. The Florida Democratic Party has made clear their support in this primary for Aaron Bosshardt, but my Gainesville contacts continue to tell me that Andrew Morey is the real deal: a prosecutor who is good on the stump and has real depth of knowledge about environmental and education issues.  Bosshardt, with the party backing has a big advantage in fundraising. The winner of this primary will be favored to defeat Perry in the fall.

House District 49

This is the much talked about Joe Saunders versus Shayan Elahi primary. Elahi is an Alan Grayson type liberal who has lots of activist support. Saunders is the state party backed  candidate who has also received the endorsement of this website’s editorial board. Saunders is also a progressive and is the likely nominee in this open, heavily Democratic East Orange County district which bears little resemblance to any 2002-2012 district.

House District 63

Republican incumbent Shawn Harrison has compiled a conservative voting record in a district that leans Democratic. Two Democrats, Z.J. Hafeez and Mark Danish are vying for the nomination, but neither has shown a great deal of fundraising potential. Danish has received the endorsement of both the Tampa Bay Times and the Hurricane’s website’s editorial board. The winner of this primary needs to enhance their fundraising scope for any chance of knocking off Harrison.

House District 81

Former Rep. Kevin Rader is looking to regain his old seat against Current Rep. Steve Perman. This is a race between annoying perennial candidates. Rader has been in and out of three races this year, first challenging Maria Sachs in a Senate Democratic Primary before shifting to the District 27 Senate race where TPH has endorsed Rep. Jeff Clemens.  Perman has run in four consecutive elections in this seat, losing the first two and finally winning in 2010.

House District 98

The open State House District 98 features a straight two-way Democratic primary, with the winner almost certain of victory in November. Katie Edwards, an experienced Tallahassee insider who worked for many years with the Florida Farm Bureau, was the early frontrunner. Edwards, who was the 2010 Democratic nominee in the West Kendall based 119th district, is now running in Central Broward County where she grew up. Edwards is a moderate who boasts support from politicians throughout the state, Agriculture interests as well as the NRA. Her opponent Louis Reinstein is a liberal Democrat who has been endorsed by our editorial board. Both candidates have done a credible job of raising money.

House District 100

State Rep. Joe Gibbons of Hallandale who previously represented a district entirely within Broward County has been thrown into a seat where the majority of voters are in Miami-Dade. Gibbons opponent,  Surfside Commissioner Shelly Lisbon played the religion/race card (Gibbons is African-American, Lisbon Jewish) which drew a strong rebuke from the Anti Defamation League. This seat did not draw a Republican candidate.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.