The end of the week-long candidate qualifying period Friday formally kicks off a lively fall election cycle full of change in this year of redistricting.
Florida’s 27-member congressional delegation will get at least four new members this fall, thanks to two new seats created by population gains and the departure of Connie Mack IV to run for the Senate. A fourth open seat is in Palm Beach and Broward counties. At least one incumbent member of Congress will be sent home, as Republican Reps. Sandy Adams and John Mica Jr. will face each other in the 7th Congressional District. Fate smiled on one member of Congress who was re-elected without opposition: Republican Dennis Ross of Lakeland.
At least 14 new state senators will join the Legislature this fall — and four of them will be from the Tampa Bay area. First-term Republican Sen. Jim Norman of Tampa drew three GOP opponents, and former Senate President Tom Lee of Brandon will face Rep. Rachel Burgin in another seat. It’s the biggest one-year turnover in the 40-member Senate since the advent of term limits.
In Palm Beach County, Democratic Reps. Mack Bernard and Jeff Clemens are vying for the same Senate seat, while in another Palm Beach/Broward Senate seat, two incumbents will square off: Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff and Democrat Maria Sachs.
A number of other senators were elected without opposition or face only token write-in opposition in the fall.
Four South Florida senators got free rides back to Tallahassee: Democrat Oscar Braynon and Republicans Anitere Flores, Rene Garcia and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla.
Thirty-eight House seats are open across the state, meaning no incumbent is running. And in two Miami-Dade House districts, incumbents will face off against each other in yet another by-product of redistricting. Miami’s House District 107 features Democrats John Patrick Julien and Barnara Watson, and District 116 pits Republicans Jose Felix Diaz and Ana Rivas Logan against each other.
Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau