Four US House seat pegged as among most vulnerable in country
Hotline's latest House Race Rating has four Florida House seats listed as among the most vulnerable to a party change in the country:
3. Florida-13—Vacant: Rep. Bill Young (R) died in October
Young kept this district safely Republican even as the political terrain shifted underneath him over 40-plus years, to the point where President Obama carried it twice. Without Young to defend the seat, it is a prime Democratic pickup opportunity in a March special election and in Novemeber thereafter. Democrats' last gubernatorial nominee, Alex Sink, moved into to the district she carried in 2010, cleared the field, and just reported raising over $1 million in 2 months. Meanwhile, Republicans David Jolly and Kathleen Peters are fighting an increasingly nasty primary, and party members worry about the district, despite the opportunity to test-drive new Obamacare attacks in the special election.
15. Florida-26—Rep. Joe Garcia (D) is running for reelection
Garcia is raising money hand-over-foot, but he's been dogged by a weird scandal (staffers of his plotted to fraudulently cast absentee ballots, apparently without the candidate's knowledge). Republican Carlos Curbelo could be a strong challenger. One underreported fact about this district: Garcia's 2012 victory is attributed to then-Rep. David Rivera's complete campaign meltdown amidst scandal but Obama's margin over Mitt Romney in the district was almost exactly the same as Garcia's over Rivera. Cuban-heavy Miami is experiencing something of a Democratic shift in national politics. GOP Gov. Rick Scott's approval could also be a problem for Republicans in the Sunshine State in November
17. Florida-02—Rep. Steve Southerland (R) is running for reelection
Democrats had another near-miss in the Florida Panhandle in 2012, though the path to victory here slopes steeply upward toward the end, Heartbreak Hill-style. As Stu Rothenberg has pointed out, the last couple of percentage points are a very difficult climb for Democrats in the 2nd District, though Gwen Graham's family name, connections, and lack of a political record make her a legit threat to Southerland, who hasn't always fundraised well.
19. Florida-18—Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) is running for reelection
By the numbers, this race ought to go higher, with Romney having carried the district as Murphy just squeaked by controversial Rep. Allen West in 2012. But the GOP isn't so sure it has a marquee challenger here, and there's a reason why some Florida Republicans pined for former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, a prodigious fundraiser, last year. Then again, plenty of folks scoffed at Murphy's viability as he set out last cycle, too. No one will ever run away with this district, but Murphy's high fundraising and luck of the draw so far move him a bit further down the list.