Long before Republicans like Allen West and Marco Rubio won their respective races on November 2, other aspirants for elected office were already doing the necessary legwork behind the scenes to position themselves for runs at both State and Federal offices in 2012. With Republicans sitting comfortably on supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature and awaiting the opportunity to work with Governor-Elect Rick Scott and cabinet (who are all Republicans), Republicans are avoiding complacency and eyeing potential seat pick-ups in 2012. These seats in question will be in play, assuming that the anti-Big government/Obama sentiment holds through the next election cycle, which we fully expect.
At the Federal level, there are potential candidates who are sitting back and waiting for next year’s re-districting to potentially open up seats that would be favorable to the GOP or make previously “safe” seats for Democrats competitive. Contrary to the so-called ‘Wizards of Smart’ (hat tip to El Rushbo) that are already assuming where Florida’s two new congressional districts will be located, chances are they won’t be placed in Southeast Florida, in spite of its population growth. With the GOP controlling the bounds of redistricting, it’s a safe bet they won’t do anything that harms Republican-held Congressional seats like Allen West’s seat in District 22, Tom Rooney’s in District 16, David Rivera’s in District 25, or skew state house and senate seats that overlap those Congressional Districts. As it stands right now, Congressional Districts 17,19, 20, and 23 strongly favor Democrats, and Districts 22 and 25 were considered toss-up seats before this past election cycle.
There is the possibility that the GOP could broker a deal with the Democrats to which could solidify existing GOP Congressional seats as well as Democrat seats like District 19 and 23. Two new congressional seats will be drawn- one of the two new seats could be located in Southwest Florida, and the other could split up existing Congressional District 2, creating two GOP-friendly seats. It’s also possible that no deal will be brokered and strong Democrat seats like District 17, 19, and 20 could be even made stronger by giving back portions of surrounding Districts that lean ‘D’, while taking ‘R’ leaning areas out of either Districts 17 or 19 and redrawing them into part of District 20. We’ll have to wait to see what the ‘powers that be’ will do to redraw the ‘battle’ lines that were last drawn in 2000.
There is also a lot of buzz going around throughout political circles as to who will be announcing their intentions to seek higher office for the 2012 election cycle. At the Senatorial level, GOP strategists that are in ‘the know’ believe that Senator George LeMieux will definitely run against Senator Bill Nelson (D) in 2012. Some other well known names being seriously mentioned are Florida State Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R), Congressman Connie Mack, Governor Jeb Bush, and Congressman Vern Buchanan.
At the the Congressional level, Republican Karen Harrington is said to be strongly considering another run in District 20 against Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Harrington garnered almost 40% of the vote in her loss, and she has already been contacted by the NRCC and both State and National groups about helping in her efforts. Were she decide to run again, her candidacy could prove to be a more formidable one with a strong base of support in an otherwise tough Congressional District.
Other names to watch are Businessman Brian Reilly from Hollywood, and former U.S. Senate candidate Alexander Snitker. Reilly was the front runner in the Republican primary race for Congressional District 20 before withdrawing due to personal issues. Reilly quickly received national media attention and was mingling with the ‘who’s, who’ of the political world. Sources say that Reilly is weighing both his congressional and his state options, but is said to not be interested in running against Harrington. Snitker was the Libertarian candidate that ran for the U.S. Senate against Marco Rubio, Congressman Kendrick Meek and Governor Charlie Crist. Snitker proved to be an energetic and resilient opponent, but failed to receive any serious financial backing. Several people, including myself, say that Snitker could be a formidable congressional candidate if he were to change his party affiliation form Libertarian to Republican. Snitker made overtures to many Republican voters, but that appeal only went so far, as his party affiliation limits his broader appeal.