Term limits, shakeups in Congress and redrawn state Senate seats mean Central Florida could send some new faces to the Florida House next Session, plus at least a couple current reps are looking shift districts for an easier re-election campaign. Here’s where sh*t stand eight months from Election Day.
District 25 Republican Rep. Fred Costello and District 27 Rep. David Santiago, also a Republican, are running for Congress, making for a couple unexpected open seats this cycle. So far, four candidates have filed to take over for the exiting lawmakers.
Costello’s seat comes down Republican Volusia County Council member Deb Denys, Costello’s former legislative assistant Becky Reichenberg and newly-filed Republican Tom Leek. Reichenberg and Leek won’t file their first campaign finance reports until March, but Denys scored a $13,100 haul in her first report, which covered January.
Santiago’s seat is a little murkier. So far, Republican Zenaida Denizac is the only major party candidate in the race. She took in $2,300 in her first month on the trail, while her opponent, no-party candidate Donald Mair has yet to post any contributions. If another Republican jumps in to the race, the GOP leaning seat could play host to a contentious primary.
Costello and Santiago aren’t the only lawmakers shopping for new seats in 2016. Republican Reps. Tom Goodson and Rene Plasencia each filed to run in a new district this cycle. Goodson is looking to take over for House Speaker Steve Crisafulli in HD 51, freeing up his current HD50 seat for Plasencia, who faced long odds getting reelected in left-leaning HD49.
Goodson faces Republicans Tim Timulty and Michael Blake in primary season, though his six-figure war chest far outpaces both opponents. Timulty had raised about $12,000 through January, while Blake has yet to report any contributions.
Plasencia’s race is shaping similarly, with his campaign showing about $78,000 in on-hand cash through January. He faces Republicans George Collins and Chadwick Hardee in primary season, with Democrat Shaun Ashby looking to be the challenger on Election Day.
So far, Collins is the only challenger who has posted substantial fundraising numbers, and his $22,000 on-hand total almost wholly comes from loans he made to his campaign.
Districts 52 and 53 are the only seats guaranteed to send a new face to Tallahassee, as Republican Reps. Ritch Workman and John Tobia are each finishing up their final terms in the House. Both seats are GOP strongholds and each has a Republican with substantial funding waiting to take over.
In HD52, Brian Hodgers has raised more than the other three Republicans in the race combined. He wrapped up January with more than $335,000 on-hand, including $40,000 in loans. Things could get dicey for him, though.
Republican Sen. Thad Altman is looking to head back to the House after hitting term limits in the Senate, and he posted the best January numbers in the four-person primary contest with $10,000 raised. Monique Miller, who has been campaigning since June, has about $27,000 on-hand, followed by Robert VanVolkenburg, with just under $8,000 in on-hand cash.
Randy Fine has a little less competition in neighboring HD53. The Republican businessman is running for the GOP nomination unopposed and has more than $175,000 in his campaign account. His only opponent, Democrat David Kearns, has just $40.
For the most part, Central Florida incumbents are on cruise control this cycle. Republican Reps. Jason Brodeur, Mike LaRosa and Eric Eisnaugle have insurmountable fundraising leads in Republican leaning HD28, HD42 and HD44, while Democrats John Cortes and Randolph Bracy should have no trouble against their underfunded primary challengers in districts 43 and 45.
The one incumbent who might break a sweat is Republican Rep. Mike Miller in HD 47. He currently faces three Democrats for the toss up seat, which he snagged from former Rep. Linda Stewart last cycle, and two of them have shown a bit of success in fundraising.
Beth Tuura, who was named one of the Ruth’s List “Women 2 Watch” for 2016, has nearly $20,000 cash on-hand after just three months in the race. Henry Lim, who filed for the seat in August, has about $13,000 on-hand. Democrat Clint Curtis, who is best known for accusing former U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney of election rigging, has only raised $200 since entering the race in September.
Miller still has a comfortable lead, with just shy of $100,000 on-hand through the end of January, though he may need to up the ante if rumors that Winter Park Chamber of Commerce CEO Patrick Chapin will run for the seat prove true. Either way, HD47 will be an expensive seat for a Republican to hold onto in a presidential election year.