Senate Race Ratings – September 14th

Recent polling indicates the Democrats will have a hard time making the gains initially expected this cycle in Senate chamber. The FDP launched what should be an effective ad campaign on behalf of Frank Bruno in SD-8, a seat which the Democrats must win if we are to believe the party is making headway in state legislative races.

In Senate District 18 Wilton Simpson who was an overwhelming favorite is now unopposed as his Democratic opponent Joshua Smith has dropped out. Smith becomes the fifth Democrat to drop out of a legislative race after the close of qualifying as compared with ZERO Republicans who have dropped out since filing closed.

In the hotly contested Senate District 34 race, Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff continues to attract lots of Democratic support. Bogdanoff’s soft image is difficult to reconcile with her hard right voting record which is more conservative than many Republicans from north Florida. Her opponent, Senator Maria Sachs is proving to be an ineffectual candidate. Yet this seat is so overwhelmingly Democratic in its performance numbers, Sachs still has a 50-50 shot of winning.

Last month we wrote the following, which still applies:

With the advent of “Fair Districts” came Legislative maps less gerrymandered for partisan purposes than in previous cycles. In the House this has produced a map with fewer than 60 safe or likely Republican seats and if the Democrats could ever get their act together they could capture the chamber in the next few cycles. However, the Senate paints an entirely different picture. Don Gaetz and his allies drew a map that was full of incumbent protection and partisan motivated meandering districts- yet the Supreme Court by a 5-2 margin found this map to be constitutional.

In March, a Tampa Bay Times analysis found that the new Senate map had 23 strong Republican seats, 15 strong Democratic seats and 2 swing districts. Our own TPH analysis concurred with those numbers. But the Democrats have failed to field a candidate in one of the strong ‘Democratic seats, SD 22, where Jeff Brandes will be the new Senator. The two “toss-up” seats are Jack Latvala’s SD-20 where the Democrats pose no threat and the open 8th, the only seriously contested Senate seat in the state where the Democrats have recruited the best possible candidate in Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno.

Additionally, four seats in “strong Democratic” column could very well be represented by Republicans after the election. Darren Soto in the heavily Democratic SD-14 and Gwen Margolis in the almost as heavily Democratic SD-35 have drawn  the strongest possible Republican opponents in their districts. SD-14 is a district that Barack Obama got close to 68% of the two-party vote in last Presidential election, but I would expect many ticket splitters as Republican Will McBride is a likable and well respected local attorney.

Latest ratings after the jump:


Safe D Likely D Leans D Toss Up Leans R Likely R Safe R
SD 12 (Open) SD 3 (Montford) SD 14 (Open) SD 8 (Open) SD 4 (Open) SD 1 (Gaetz)
SD 19 (Open) SD 9 (Gibson) SD 35 (Margolis) SD 34 (Bogdanoff/Sachs) SD 7 (Open) SD 2 (Evers)
SD 27 (Open) SD 25 (Open) SD 10 (Simmons) SD 5 (Dean)
SD 29 (Ring) SD 15 (Open) SD 6 (Thrasher)
SD 31 (Smith) SD 21 (Open) SD 11 (Hays)
SD 33 (Sobel) SD 24 (Open) SD 13 (Gardiner)
SD 36 (Braynon) SD 32 (Negron) SD 16 (Altman)
SD 39 (Open) SD 17 (Open)
SD 18 (Open)
SD 20 (Latvala)
SD 22 (Open)
SD 23 (Richter)
SD 26 (Open)
SD 28 (Open)
SD 30 (Benacquisto)
SD 37 (Flores)
SD 38 (Garcia)
SD 40 (Diaz De La Portilla)

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