Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

"The Buzz" House Race Rankings: The Final Frontier

For the last time this election cycle, the Times' political blog the Buzz is ranking the six U.S. House seats in Florida that are most vulnerable to a party switch. The difference between first place (the most vulnerable) and sixth (less vulnerable) remains quite narrow, and we feel there's an even-money chance that partisan control of the top five seats could flip. And we wouldn't be surprised to see each of the six seats flip. The rankings are based on interviews with a range of political practitioners and independent observers. The Buzz considers the state's other 19 House seats to be safe for the party in power.

1 Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando. (Previous ranking: 1) Republicans and Democrats alike consider Grayson to be all but toast. Despite his fundraising prowess, there's little sign that the outspoken liberal has turned the corner after airing the ill-fated "Taliban Dan" ad against his Republican opponent, former state House Speaker Dan Webster. The ad claimed, among other things, that Webster thinks that wives should submit to their husbands; PolitiFact Florida ruled that claim False, and the ad was widely criticized as an overreach. The controversy energized Webster's somewhat lax campaign and infused his bid with needed cash. The momentum shows no signs of slowing before Election Day.

2 Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach. (Previous ranking: 2) Unlike Grayson, Kosmas faces challenges that are less self-inflicted and more circumstantial. At root, she's a freshman Democrat representing a Republican-leaning district in a strongly Republican year. State Rep. Sandy Adams hasn't been a world-beating fundraiser, but she has been getting advertising support from outside groups that have compensated.

3 Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Monticello. (Previous ranking: 3) Analysts expect the margin in Boyd's race to be closer than the margin in either Grayson's or Kosmas' contests, in part because Boyd, a conservative "Blue Dog" Democrat, is more experienced in his district and because he faces a political novice in Republican funeral-home owner Steve Southerland. Boyd is a rare Democrat who is able to brandish endorsements by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association. But Boyd's status as a long-serving incumbent is surely an albatross in the current political environment, and his primary scare against state Sen. Al Lawson has only complicated his path to victory.

4(tie) Seat being vacated by Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami. (Previous ranking: 4) Democrats pin most of their hopes for a silver lining in Florida's congressional races on Joe Garcia, who's in a tight race against GOP state Rep. David Rivera. Garcia has run a relatively error-free race whereas Rivera has been beset by allegations ranging from a traffic accident with political overtones to questions about whether he actually worked for an agency he claimed income from. If Rivera pulls it out, it will be because voters in the heavily Hispanic district will come out to support his political ally, GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio, and simply pull the lever for Rivera as well.

4(tie) Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton. (Previous ranking: 5) Republican challenger Allen West, an outspokenly conservative African-American ex-Army colonel, appears to have weathered the storm over his alleged association with a controversial biker gang. While West remains to the right of the district politically, Klein, the Democratic incumbent, doesn't appear to have put his challenger away — and in an anti-incumbent year, there's reason to believe undecided voters could break to the challenger. Klein remains the one vulnerable Democratic incumbent in Florida who's most likely to keep his seat amid a GOP wave, but he has a smaller margin for error than we thought even a month or two ago.

6 Open seat being vacated by Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow. (Previous ranking: 5) This contest seems to have remained as lackadaisical today as it was six months ago, with little money raised, scarce media attention and almost no buzz among political insiders. Part of the reason may be the hard-to-calculate three-way contest between Democrat Lori Edwards, the Polk County elections supervisor; Dennis Ross, a Republican; and Randy Wilkinson, an experienced local officeholder and former Republican running on the tea party line. Edwards is hoping Ross and Wilkinson split the right-of-center vote, allowing her to secure a plurality, but the hands-off approach of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee suggests Democrats aren't fully sold that this seat is flippable.

"The Buzz" House Race Rankings: The Final Frontier 10/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 30, 2010 10:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)
  2. Chris Archer knocked out early as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

    Chris Archer has not gotten past four innings in four of his past five starts. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  3. Bucs-Vikings report card: Where's this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?


    O NO

    True, the Bucs defense looked pretty leaky in the 34-17 loss to the Vikings. But you know what needs to happen when the defense is getting torched? The offense needs to step up. In games such as these, with defensive players seemingly getting hurt every play, the offense needs to outscore the other …

    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) intercepts a Jameis Winston pass intended for wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Bucs-Vikings: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay's 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — Here's Rick Stroud and Tom Jones' instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday. More to come from Rick & Tom — and Greg Auman —- from Minneapolis later today.

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) dives over the pylon for a touchdown as  Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith (29) defends. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Worst-Case scenario: Case Keenum, Vikings hand Bucs 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — With key defensive starters out with injury, the Bucs were dominated by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, with fill-in quarterback Case Keenum beating Tampa Bay for the third year in a row, …

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]