Of the 120 Florida House seats up for grabs in 2014, the term “competitive” is applicable to only a handful. In a majority, there was either there was weak or no competition, or the primary winners face write-in candidates, who have practically zero chances for success in November.
Nevertheless, several races in November can be seen as truly competitive. Geographically separated (for the most part), here is a preview of the 20 top Florida House races to watch in the November 4 General Election:
In the north central House District 21, incumbent Republican state Rep. Keith Perry faces Democrat Jon Uman to represent the area covering much of Dixie, Gilchrist and Alachua Counties.
Long considered a swing district, the region west of the University of Florida holds a large number of students and faculty, as well as much of the African-American population of greater Gainesville. Registration in HD 21 leans Democratic, 45 to 34 percent as of 2012, making Perry’s previous victory (by 57 percent over Democrat Andrew Morey) even more impressive. Chances are good that Perry can repeat that performance in his re-election bid for a third term.
Daytona Beach is the heart of Republican-leaning House District 25, currently represented by state Rep. Dave Hood, who opted to forgo re-election to run for a judgeship in the Volusia County Circuit Court.
Republican former state Rep. Fred Costello will face Democratic former college professor and public relations executive Noel Cheryl Bickford for the district covering eastern Volusia County, Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Port Orange, Ponce Inlet, and New Smyrna Beach.
Costello served as Ormond Beach City Commission in 1999 and the city’s mayor from 2002 through 2010. He also has some big name endorsements, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and many of the local leaders he worked with during his time in Ormond Beach. Bickford has support of the local Democratic Party as well as the Democratic Veterans Caucus.
Another top race to watch in north-central Florida is House District 27, the sprawling region of Volusia County between DeBary north of Orlando through the coast south of New Smyrna.
Incumbent Republican state Rep. David Santiago, who serves as House Majority Deputy Whip and vice chair of the Rulemaking Oversight & Repeal Subcommittee, faces Democrat Bob Garcia, the two-term mayor of DeBary.
This is the second attempt Garcia has made for the HD 27 seat. Garcia also ran against Santiago in 2012, after Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder abruptly ended his campaign. However, the local Democratic Party opted for former Volusia County Councilman Phil Giorno, who then lost by nearly 10 points.