Two-term Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples), who previously served as US Ambassador to the Holy See, announced over the weekend that he will not seek a third term next year. Mr. Rooney, 65 years of age, had been on the unofficial retirement watch list particularly when raising only $6,600 for the campaign cycle. The Rooney retirement means there are now 27 open House seats in the current cycle, 20 coming from the Republican side.
The 19th District, located in southwestern Florida and anchored in Ft. Myers and Cape Coral, is safely Republican (Trump ’16: 60-37%). We can expect a crowded August 25th Republican primary that will likely choose the district’s next Congressman.
A total of 219 House Democrats and one Independent have signed the petition pledge indicating they will vote for at least some version of an impeachment resolution. Doing so would impeach, or indict, the President, and send the charge to the Senate for a potential trial and motion to remove from office. Among the signers are several members who have competitive re-elections, are in Trump districts, or have primary competition. The lone Independent, Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), will likely face attacks from both sides as he presumably seeks re-election as an Independent or minor party nominee.
The Democrats supporting impeachment who already face credible general election opposition are (listed alphabetically by name) Reps: Cindy Axne (IA), Gil Cisneros (CA), Sharice Davids (KS), Antonio Delgado (NY), Abby Finkenauer (IA), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Andy Kim (NJ), Susie Lee (NV), Elaine Luria (VA), Tom Malinowski (NJ), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL), Chris Pappas (NH), Katie Porter (CA), Harley Rouda (CA), Elissa Slotkin (MI), Abigail Spanberger (VA), and Lauren Underwood (IL).
A rare Florida presidential primary poll was released yesterday from Florida Atlantic University (9/12-15; 407 FL likely Democratic primary voters) and while former Vice President Joe Biden has an advantage beyond the polling margin of error, the seeds are planted for a tight three-way contest.
The results find Mr. Biden leading with 34%, while Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are tied at 24% apiece. Way back are South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 6%, California Sen. Kamala Harris pulling only 4%, Miramar, FL Mayor Wayne Messam finally getting on a polling board at 3%, and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and businessman Andrew Yang attracting 2% apiece. Under this configuration, Mr. Biden would capture approximately 91 delegates as compared to Sens. Warren and Sanders clinching 64 first ballot delegate votes apiece.
Miami-Dade Firefighters local union president Omar Blanco has filed a 2020 congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, the prelude to him announcing his candidacy. Should he win the 26th District Republican nomination, he will face freshman Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Miami) in a seat the Democrats converted away from Republican hands in 2018. The presence of a Hispanic Republican union president as the GOP nominee will make this race one to watch.
Donna Shalala, the former Health & Human Services Secretary and president to both the University of Wisconsin and Miami University, won a south Florida congressional seat in the last election. She defeated former Spanish-language channel news anchorwoman Maria Elvira Salazar, 52-46% in the 2018 general election. Yesterday, in an expected move, Ms. Salazar announced that she will return for a re-match next year.
The region that comprises the 27th District was in Republican hands for 30 years in the person of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Her retirement last year allowed Shalala to win the open seat, in a district that had been significantly changed in the 2015 state Supreme Court redistricting mandate. This will be a competitive 2020 campaign, but Rep. Shalala must be regarded as a clear favorite for re-election.
Freshman Rep. Ross Spano (R-Dover/Lakeland) has drawn one opponent while another exits for a different race. Freshman state Rep. Adam Hattersley (D-Hillsborough County) formally announced his congressional campaign yesterday, prompting candidate Andrew Learned to leave the congressional campaign to instead compete for Hattersley’s open state House seat. Two minor candidates remain, but it is now likely that Messrs. Spano and Hattersley will battle for the congressional seat in the fall of 2020.
This area, just east of Tampa, has been in Republican hands since the Lakeland anchored congressional seat was created as the 12th District in the 1991 redistricting plan. During that span, Republicans Charles Canady, Adam Putnam, and Dennis Ross had all held the seat prior to Mr. Spano winning last November.
Former Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami), who lost his seat in November after serving two terms, clarified yesterday that he will not return for a 2020 re-match with freshman Rep. Debbie Murcasel-Powell (D-Miami). Instead, Mr. Curbelo confirmed that he is considering becoming a candidate in the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s race. Without Curbelo in the congressional field, Ms. Mucarsel-Powell is in much stronger position to win her first re-election campaign.
Freshman state Rep. Margaret Good (D-Sarasota) defeated state Rep. James Buchanan (R-Sarasota) in the 2018 election to win her seat in the state House. Mr. Buchanan is the son of US Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Sarasota), and now Ms. Good has announced that she will challenge the elder Buchanan next year. The 16th District has performed as a reliable Republican district in its basic form since the 1992 election. Rep. Buchanan turned back a strong challenge from Democratic candidate David Shapiro in the 2018 election with a 55-45% victory. Mr. Shapiro spent over $2.5 million on the campaign.
Despite Ms. Good’s upset of the younger Buchanan last year, the elder Buchanan looks to be a tougher nut for her to crack.
Yet another Democratic incumbent is being challenged for the party nomination. At the end of last week, attorney Jennifer Perelman announced that she will oppose Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) in the 2020 Democratic primary.
In 2016, law professor Tim Canova challenged Rep. Wasserman Schultz and, armed with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ support, he raised just under $4 million for his campaign effort. Yet, even with his strong resources, Mr. Canova could do no better than hold Rep. Wasserman Schultz to a 57-43% Democratic primary victory. Therefore, Ms. Perelman has a high mountain to climb if she is to force the Congresswoman into a competitive race.
Republican businesswoman and human trafficking activist Jan Edwards has already ended her challenge to sophomore Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park). The 7th District is marginal but became more Democratic once the state Supreme Court implemented a mid-decade redistricting procedure. Four candidates remain in the Republican field, but none appear to be major candidates. At this point, Rep. Murphy is a clear favorite for re-election.
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