With about a week to go until the election, there’s not a whole lot more to say about the presidential race. Despite Mexican-American presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney gaining in the national polls, he’s failed to erase the president’s lead in the all-important state of Ohio, and almost all of the electoral college models have Obama winning. Back in the primary, when Romney was far more conservative than he is now, he suggested during a debate that federal disaster relief is “immoral” and that disaster relief should either by foisted entirely on the states or, even better, privatized. Whether that will come back to haunt him in the wake of Hurricane Sandy remains to be seen, but I expect commercials airing clips of Romney wanting to privatize disaster relief coming soon to a television near you. In any case, unless something seriously deranged happens, Romney can forget about measuring the White House for new curtains.
But down-ticket races here in South Florida are a far less certain thing. Not in all cases, but in a few. Indeed, in most cases, the race is all but over, for one of four reasons. To begin with, let’s define our races. South Florida includes state House districts 81, 82, 85-105, and 107-120. It also includes state Senate districts 25, 27, 29, and 31-40, as well as U.S. House districts 18 and 20-27. Now, let’s look at the four reasons that most of these races are pretty much over.
1. Candidates running unopposed. In state House districts 91, 92, 95, 96, and 101 and state Senate districts 36-38 and 40, the candidates just skated right into office, facing no opposition whatsoever.
2. Candidates who faced only primary opponents. In state House districts 87, 88, 100, 108, 109, and 113, as well as U.S. House district 24, the candidate won the office after defeating primary opponents.
3. Candidates who face only nominal opposition. In state House districts 82, 102, 103, 105-107, 110, 111, and 116-119; state Senate district 27; and U.S. House districts 20, 21, and 25, the candidate faces only a write-in, no-party-affiliation, or third-party candidate.
4. Candidates who face only nominal opposition from the other main party. Somewhat related to no. 3, there are many candidates who do face a Democrat or Republican in the election, but that opponent is practically an opponent in name only. There are multiple reasons for this — the opposing candidate may have almost no funding, or the district may be so overwhelmingly in favor of one party or the other that it’s practically pointless for a candidate from the other party to even run. In any case, these races include state House 81, 85, 90, 93, 94, 97-99, 104, 114; state Senate 29 and 31-33; and U.S. House 23 and 27.
Including state House, state Senate, and U.S. House races, there are 60 seats up for grabs in South Florida. But once you factor in all of the above, you’re left with just a dozen. And of these, half of them are incredible long shots that are barely worth talking about. These include state House districts 86, 89, 115, and 120 and state Senate districts 25 and 39. We are left with just six races that really could go either way.
STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 112
Republican Alex Diaz de la Portilla vs. Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez
The only state House race worth mentioning at this point. (My heart wants me to include district 120 as well, but my head says the Republican’s got that one.) And even in this one, it’s a long shot, with DLP favored to win and win big. The only thing that makes it interesting is that the district includes South Beach as well as heavily Republican areas of Miami, and Rodriguez has raised a ton of money for a fresh-faced Dem running in his first campaign against a man who casts one of the largest shadows in the state Republican party.
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 34
Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff vs. Democrat Maria Sachs
The hardest-fought, closest state Senate race in the entire state. Bogdanoff has raised about a million dollars in donations and in-kind contributions. That is a staggering sum for a state Senate race. Sachs has raised less than half of that. Indeed, Bogdanoff has spent more than Sachs has raised. However, the district is slightly Democratic, giving Sachs an advantage. It’s anyone’s game, and the polls have it within two or three points. Every single vote will matter.
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 35
Republican John Couriel vs. Democrat Gwen Margolis
Probably the biggest long-shot I’ve included here, as Margolis is a really big name and this is definitely a Democratic district. What makes it worth mentioning is the fact that Couriel has raised a quarter million dollars. Makes it interesting, but probably not really.
U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT 18
Republican Allen West vs. Democrat Patrick Murphy
A pretty middle-of-the-road district, so can West’s political rhetoric, which runs just to the left Mussolini, find an audience? More than $10 million raised says it could, but Murphy’s also raised millions, and comes across as … what’s the word? Ah, yes — sane.
U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT 22
Republican Adam Hasner vs. Democrat Lois Frankel
Hasner hopped into this House race back in February after abandoning a U.S. Senate bid — which turned out to be great foresight, because Republican Cornelius “No, Really, My Name Is Connie Mack” McGillicuddy IV looks like he’s headed for a pretty bad loss against Sen. Bill Nelson. But Hasner is in a tight race against former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel.
U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT 26
Republican David Rivera vs. Democrat Joe Garcia
The Democrats’ best chance for a pickup, mainly due to the ongoing investigation into Rep. Rivera’s financing of a ratfucking campaign during the Democratic primary. Garcia has been angling for this seat for years, and this looks to be the moment he finally gets his chance. Sure, it’s because he’s running against a man who appears to be utterly corrupt in a way the Republicans haven’t been since Abramoff, but what the hell — he’ll make a solid congressman.