In one corner of Central Florida, a Republican state representative and the Democratic chairman of Volusia County are competing for a Senate district that reaches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ocala National Forest.
In another, a Democratic state representative and a wealthy Republican trial lawyer are vying for a Senate seat covering predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods from southeast Orange County to Polk County.
And in between, in the Orange and Seminole County suburbs, a Republican House member is fighting for his political career against the daughter of a Florida Democratic Party icon.
Those skirmishes are among a half-dozen competitive races this fall in Central Florida for seats in the Florida Legislature — an unusually large number of battlegrounds created by the once-a-decade process of redrawing political districts.
Statewide, strategists from both parties say, there are as few as three competitive elections in the 40-seat Senate and only about a dozen in the 120-seat House of Representatives.
For Central Florida voters, it is a rare opportunity to have a meaningful effect on matters in the state Capitol, particularly in the Senate, where some major policy issues have been decided by slim margins.
This year, for instance, a proposal to let a majority of parents compel a public school to convert into a charter school failed to pass the Senate — by a single vote. Other bills to privatize prisons, require 24-hour waiting periods before abortions, and make it harder for public-employee unions to collect dues have also fallen just short of passing.
“These are all policy issues where one or two votes matter,” said Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston.
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