Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Senate Contests to Watch This Fall

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Senate Contests to Watch This Fall

Article excerpt

A court-ordered redrawing__ of Florida Senate__ districts was expected__ to give Democrats a chance__ to narrow the Republican__ majority in the 40-member__ chamber. But as the qualifying__ period for Senate races ended__ at noon Friday, a quick analysis__ shows the Democrats will be__ lucky to pick up two or perhaps__ three seats in a Senate where__ the GOP now holds a 26-14__ edge.__ A plausible scenario could__ have the Republicans holding__ their current majority. And__ a nightmare scenario for the__ Democrats would be a loss of__ one or two seats.__ Here are some of the key__ battlegrounds:__ n District 8: A potential Democratic__ pickup. The Democrats__ have one of their strongest__ candidates in former state Sen.__ Rod Smith of Alachua. The__ former prosecutor, who sent__ Danny Rolling to Death Row,__ has plenty of campaign experience,__ having run for governor__ in 2006 and lieutenant gover-nor__ in 2010, and is the former__ head of the state Democratic__ Party.__ Obama narrowly carried__ the district in 2012. But the__ Republicans have a strong__ candidate in state Rep. Keith__ Perry of Gainesville. It will be__ an expensive tough race for__ both candidates.__ n District 13: A potential__ Democratic pickup in the__ Orlando area. The Democrats__ have a strong field that__ includes former state Reps.__ Mike McClelland and Linda__ Stewart. But the Republicans__ are in a good position to defend__ the seat with Dean Asher, a real__ estate businessman who has__ already raised $275,000.__ n District 15: Democratic__ defense. Democrats should__ hold this Orange-Osceola__ district, which Obama carried__ by a 16-point margin in 2012.__ But Republicans have a viable__ candidate in Peter Vivaldi, who__ has strong support from the__ GOP establishment.__ n District 18: A Democratic__ challenge. It will be an uphill fight for the Democrats__ although Obama narrowly__ carried this Tampa district__ in 2012. Republican Dana__ Young, the current House__ majority leader, is the front__ runner, having already__ raised some $485,000.__ She faces a challenge from__ Democrat Bob Buesing__ and strip-club impresario__ Joe Redner, running as an__ independent. …

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