The Phoenix Flyer

National Democratic committee says it will spend millions to try to flip Florida Senate this fall

By: - July 13, 2018 1:18 pm
Florida Phoenix

Florida Democrats hoping to start a “blue wave” by getting a
Democratic majority in the state Senate during this fall’s elections got
a significant financial boost today.

The prospect of changing the Florida Senate from Republican majority to a Democratic one is a long shot – Democrats have been in the minority for more than two decades in both chambers of the Florida Legislature.

But the national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC)
said it is committed to spending $6 million to target 17 state legislative
seats nationally this fall in an attempt to flip eight legislative chambers
around the country to Democratic control, including the Florida

The group’s goal is to flip five Florida Senate seats this fall that are
now held by Republicans. If those seats were to turn blue, the
Democrats would control the Florida Senate for the first time since

“Smart and early investments from the DLCC have helped our states
recruit strong candidates, hire critical staff, run strategic field
operations, and execute the paid communications needed to win
elections,” Jessica Post, the executive director of the DLCC, said in a
news release.

The Democrats have flipped 44 legislative seats around the country
since President Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017, including
Margaret Good’s victory over James Buchanan in a Florida House
seat in the Sarasota area earlier this year. Good’s 7-point victory was
in an area that Donald Trump won by nearly five points in 2016.

Today’s Florida Senate has 23 Republicans and 16 Democrats. One
Senate seat remains empty – the Pinellas/Pasco County seat which was held by Republican Jack Latvala before he stepped down due to allegations of sexual harassment last year.

That’s one of the five Florida Senate races that the DLCC is targeting. Though it has been reliably Republican in recent years, the entry of Amanda Murphy into that race has energized Democrats. Murphy is a moderate who held a Florida Senate seat in Pasco County from 2013-2016. After winning easily in 2014, she was narrowly defeated by
then-21-year-old Amber Mariano in 2016. Several analysts considered it amazing that Murphy came so close that year, considering how Trump won the district by over 20 percentage points.

Another open Florida Senate targeted with the new political donations
is in Miami-Dade County, where Democrat David Perez, a former aide
to Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, will face off against Republican Manny Diaz.

One of the biggest seats that the Democrats have been targeting is
the Tampa Senate seat currently held by Republican Dana Young,
who is being challenged by outgoing Florida House Minority Leader
Janet Cruz. A recent poll had the two in a statistical tie.

The DLCC is also getting behind Kayser Enneking and Bob Doyel.
Enneking is running against Republican Keith Perry in the Gainesville
area, while Doyel is challenging GOP incumbent Kelli Stargell in Polk

The DLCC invested $10,000 in Florida in that race and directed an
additional $10,000 in support through its “Spotlight Races” web page
and fundraising email program – which alert Democrats from around
the country to key state races and gives them the chance to donate.

The DLCC has a lot of work to do. As has been widely reported,
Democrats lost more than 900 legislative seats during Barack
Obama’s two terms in office.

The other states where the DLCC is investing money to try to flip state
senates to Democratic control are in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Colorado, Arizona, Colorado and Washington.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.