With early voting beginning across Florida this weekend, Political Pulse gives you….The Most Important State Races in Florida.
Senate District 34 – The most important Senate race is an obvious call: This battle between two incumbents, Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale and Democratic Sen. Maria Sachs of Delray Beach, for a coastal district straddling Broward and Palm Beach counties. Party leaders have predicted total spending on this race will be between $8 million and $10 million, a breathtaking amount for a legislative race. This is a district that should favor Democratic candidates, but Bogdanoff has a history of performing well in swing districts. And the Republican Party of Florida’s overwhelming cash advantage has helped offset the Democrats’ registration advantage (this is a familiar theme around the state). Republicans need to win this seat if they are to maintain their two-thirds majority in the Senate, which gives them almost unlimited power in the chamber.
House District 49 – With apologies to Scott Plakon and Karen Castor Dentel, this east Orange County battle between a pair of promising rookies – Republican hospital fundraiser Marco Pena and Democratic civil-rights activist Joe Saunders – is the single most important House race in Florida. There are two reasons. First, this is another district where Democrats have a big registration advantage but which has become competitive amid a half-million dollar television-advertising blitz by the Republican Party. If the Democrats can’t hold on here, it is hard to believe they will be able to climb to 40 seats statewide – the two-thirds threshold in the House. But more importantly, House District 49 could also be a bellwether for the presidential race in Florida because of its demographics. The seat includes the 60,000-student University of Central Florida, and it is nearly one-third Hispanic. The direction the seat swings could very well signal whether young voters are turning out in big numbers for President Barack Obama and whether Hispanic voters are continuing to trend Democratic.