A look at the ballot: State Legislature

With the close of the qualifying period last week, I thought it would be a decent time to give an overview of the state legislative races. I won’t try to get into much prognostication at this point, but it is safe to assume that the Republican Party will retain majorities in both chambers.

Here is what we know so far:

In the Florida Senate, 20 of the 40 seats are up for election this year. Of those, 7 seats are open because the incumbent could not seek re-election due to term limits or is running for higher office.

The 13 incumbents include 11 Republicans and 2 Democrats. Both Democrats and five of the Republicans were re-elected without opposition. Two more Republicans face token opposition from either a write-in or a minor party candidate. Of the remaining four Republican incumbents, two face a Republican in the primary with only a write-in or independent in the general; and two face an actual Democratic challenger.

In the seven open seats, four were held by a Democrat and three by a Republican. In the four Democratic seats, only one seat drew Republican candidates. The remaining Democratic open seats feature Democrats facing each other in the primary, with minor party or write-in candidates in the general election. In the three Republican seats, one Republican was elected without opposition, while the remaining two drew both Republicans and Democrats.

So, out of 20 seats up for election this November, exactly 5 feature both Democrat and Republican candidates. When you factor in the party breakdown of the senators not up for election this year, 12 Republicans and 8 Democrats, it’s clear that the Republicans will hold their majority.

Current Breakdown: 22 Republicans, 13 Democrats, 5 Unknown.

All 120 seats in the Florida House of Represenatives are up this year. Of that number, 32 are open due to term limits or the incumbent running for higher office. There are 88 incumbent House members running for re-election.

Out of the 67 Republican incumbents, 29 were re-elected without opposition and 9 more only have a write in candidate. In opposed races, 21 Republican incumbents will face a Democrat (three races have two Democrats vying for the nomination), 3 Republicans will face a Democrat and a minor party candidate, 2 face primary opposition with a write-in candidates, 2 more face only primary opposition, and the remaining incumbent will face a primary opponent and a Democrat.

On the Democratic side, 13 of 21 incumbents were re-elected because no opponent qualified and 1 more drew a write-in opponent. Only three Democrats drew Republicans, and two of them also drew primary opposition. Two more Democrats will face only a write in candidate, while the remaining two will only face a fellow Democrat.

Two of the 32 open seats were won without opposition, one Republican and one Democrat. Seventeen of the remaining seats were held by Republicans. In those seats, 10 have multiple Republicans facing at least one Democrat, three have multiple Republicans facing a Democrat and either a write in or a minor party candidates, two more have one Republican against a Democrat, and the last two feature a Republican against a minor party candidate.

In the 13 remaining Democrat seats, five seats feature Democratic candidates competing to face a write-in, five more feature multiple Democrats facing at least one Republican or a Republican and a minor party or write in candidates, two feature one Democrat fighting to face at least one Republican, and finally one last seat features only two Democrats.

Now, that is a complex way to break down the House — but there are bound to be more permutations with 120 seats versus 20 seats.

Current Breakdown: 45 Republicans, 34 Democrats, 41 Unknown.

I will take a closer look at the breakdown after the primary – looking at campaign finance reports and how the district has voted in the past. Generally, I believe the House and Senate will remain in Republican control for the forseeable future.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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