Look, I could just knock out 1,000 words on the latest Republican idiocy. I could tell you all about freshman congressman Kevin Yoder skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee on a “fact-finding mission” that sounded a hell of a lot more like a lobbyist-financed vacation to Israel. (The trip for 30 lawmakers, staff members, and their family was funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group.) Or I could tell you about Ohio election official Doug Priesse, who, in the wake of that state’s clamping down on early voting hours, said Sunday, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.” And of course I could tell you about Todd Akin, the Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, who was up by 5-10 points over incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill before he claimed on Sunday that pregnancies resulting from rape are “really rare” because “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” This has only improved his chances in Missouri, as the heads of women everywhere simultaneously exploded upon hearing that quote, thus removing a large anti-Akin voting bloc from the electorate. (Seriously, though — according to the Center for Disease Control, rape results in approximately 32,000 pregnancies every year. Akin later said he “misspoke,” which only caused greater confusion, because if he misspoke, what exactly did he mean to say?)
Sure, I could tell you about all this, get into all the nitty gritty details of these stupidities, but you can read about all of these things across the Internet in a million different locales. In fact, you probably already have. Maybe you’ve wondered what you can do in your own backyard to make sure these benighted swine get beaten but good in 2012. Well, that’s where I’ve got you covered. Below are the races in South Florida that will truly be close races on Election Day in November. If you want to volunteer, donate, or in any other way help with an election effort, these are the races in which your time and money will be best-spent. And of course, that applies for Republicans, too. Following the South Florida races, I’ve also included a quick run down of other close races across the state. Enjoy!
There are 120 districts in the state House, and the last of them covers a large swath of the Everglades, including a large chuck of South Miami-Dade County, and all of Monroe County, including the Florida Keys. It’s also the only state House race in South Florida in which the November election is going to be a close one. That’s kind of sad, because South Florida comprises 37 state House districts, with two of them (the 82nd and the 105th) also including areas outside the quad-county South Florida area. But of those, 16 were already decided in the primary election held Tuesday, Aug. 14, because no one from the other party is running; another six districts were decided from the get go because a candidate is running unopposed; and in 14 districts, a candidate faces an opponent in November, but the race is going to be a blowout practically regardless of what happens until then, primarily due to voter demographics and fund raising.
That leaves only the 120th, though it’s possible to see a close race in the 112th as well, where big-time Republican pol Alex Diaz de la Portilla is taking on Democratic newcomer Jose Javier Rodriguez. Anyway, back to the 120th. This was formerly the district of Democrat Ron Saunders who just lost a state Senate primary race to Dwight Bullard. His former legislative aide, Holly Raschein, is now running as a Republican in this district. The Democrat in the race is Ian Whitney, the president of the Key West Innkeepers Association and a member of the Democratic Party’s state executive committee, among other party committee appointments. I picked Whitney in my House rundowns, but that’s looking less and less likely. It’s a swing district, voters here are comfortable with Saunders, and Raschein can convince folks that she’s able to work across the aisle as Saunders’ former legislative aide. Should be a tough race, and will be one of the closest state House races in the state, but he’ll need a lot of help.
The only state Senate district in South Florida that has a true race in November is the 34th. It’s the same story as the state House districts. South Florida includes 13 state Senate districts, but four candidates ran unopposed, one had only a primary, and seven feature only nominal opposition in the general. That brings us to sitting state senators Ellyn Bogdanoff and Maria Sachs. This isn’t merely the closest race state Senate race in South Florida — it’s the closest in the entire state. Republican Bogdanoff has, like any good Republican, raised way more money than her opponent. But Sachs should have demographics on her side. If she can put together a well-organized get-out-the-vote effort, she can win this.
South Florida includes districts 18 and 20 through 27, but Democrats Alcee Hastings and Ted Deutch ran unopposed in districts 20 and 21, respectively, and Republican Mario Diaz-Balart ran unopposed in the 25th. Democrat Frederica Wilson won a primary and faces no opposition in the general for her seat in the 24th. Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have opponents in November, but those races will both be complete routs. That leaves us the 18th, 22nd, and 26th. The 18th includes only a small patch of Palm Beach County, consisting mainly of Martin County to the north. There, deeply weird Republican incumbent Allen West is squaring off against Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. I had initially assumed this would be a West win, but the Murphy campaign is adamant that the 18th is far more Democratic than I’ve given it credit for. West has raised a jaw-dropping amount of money — at least $10 million — but it won’t matter if the numbers just aren’t there for him.
Former Democratic West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel takes on former Republican House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. It should be Democratic territory, but Hasner is a name candidate. The district includes areas of Palm Beach and Broward counties. West fled up to the 18th rather than try for re-election here, and there’s a reason for that. Especially with two Palm Beach County politicians in the election, fighting over their base, the blue vote in Democratic Broward means this district should go Democratic in a very tight race.
Democrat Joe Garcia lost to Republican David Rivera in 2010, and Rivera has been a bit of a laughing stock ever since. The newly redrawn district loses some heavily Republican areas of Collier County, which in theory should help Garcia. But this really should’ve been Garcia’s race to lose last time around, so who’s to say?
Elsewhere in the state:
District 30 — In a district that has become a bit more blue with redistricting (and was previously reported here, to my chagrin, as a deeply red district), Democrat Karen Castor Dentel, sister of sitting congresswoman Kathy Castor, tries to unseat conservative Republican Scott Plakon.
District 68 — This district went to Obama by almost 10 points in 2008 and to Alex Sink by a similar amount in 2010, but Republican Frank Farkas is well-known in the district, having served as a state Representative from 1998-2006. He faces Democrat Dwight Dudley.
District 10 — While former congressman and liberal firebrand Alan Grayson should coast to victory in the 9th, the man who beat him in 2010, Republican Daniel Webster, faces serious competition from Democrat Val Demings, the former Orlando Chief of Police.
District 16 — Republican Vern Buchanan, who has landed on the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress list in 2008, 2009, and 2011, faces a serious challenge in Democrat Keith Fitzgerald.