Leon County is one of only six Florida counties to vote Democrat for President in every election since 1992. A combination of three campuses (FSU/FAMU/TCC), a notable African-American population, and a large base of state employees, make it a reliable Democratic county. That said, there are plenty of Republican strongholds in the region. Leon’s northern suburbs are typically a reliable Republican base and County District 4, located in the Northeast end of the county, has stayed Republican for decades. Those who follow Leon politics will often name Golden Eagle, a high-end gated community, or Killearn Lakes, a large gathering of high priced suburban houses, as some of the most reliable Republican areas top and down ballot. Fort Braden, a rural community on the southwest end of the county, is often seen as a solidly Republican area.
A handful of Broward’s 30+ cities held their municipal elections on March 14th. While more cities are moving their elections to correspond with the federal/state races; plenty, citing a desire to keep low-key races from getting lost in the shuffle, opt for spring elections. Some elections where contentious while others proved to be blowouts.
In 2015, Florida’s Congressional and State Senate districts where struck down as GOP gerrymanders that violated the Fair District Standard of the Florida Constitution. However, Florida’s state house districts never saw a similar challenge. The plaintiffs that successfully sued over the U.S. House/Florida Senate maps plainly stated that the cost of research into so many districts was much of a financial burden. Thus, Florida’s 2016 elections commenced under the same map from 2012.
In 2015, Florida underwent mid-decade redistricting for its state senate lines, around the same time it was forced to redraw its congressional boundaries. Unlike the congressional case, where the state supreme court ordered a redraw, the legislature avoided a verdict and agreed to redraw their lines after evidence came to light that the legislature had worked to circumvent the Fair Districts Amendments passed in 2010. After a special session that resulted in no final map, the court picked a plan chosen by the plaintiffs that sued over the lines. The case was closed and Florida conducted its elections with new state senate lines.
Anyone who followed my Florida redistricting coverage in 2015 knows I was strongly against a senate district that linked Tampa and St Petersburg by crossing the Tampa Bay. The argument was that only by linking the African-Americans of Tampa and downtown St Peterburg could a proper African-American access seat be created. The flaw in this argument was that the legislature relied on outdated data and ignored recent elections that had taken place after large African-American registration increases in Tampa. At the end of the day, a district crossing the Tampa Bay was adopted. This set off a major primary for the open seat.
The US Senate Primary for the Democratic Party was a landslide with for Patrick Murphy. Murphy got 59% of the vote, with Alan Grayson, the disgraced congressman, down at 17%. Murphy won by dominated the Southeast counties and performed strong in Tampa Bay. Grayson managed to hold the Orlando area, where he has been a fixture for a decade.
On the night before the 2014 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, I correctly predicted that Nan Rich would do best in the rural panhandle of Florida. My prediction was based off a recent history of unknown candidates doing very well in the panhandle as a way of conservative, southern democrats casting protest votes. My logic was simple: conservative rural democrats in these counties show up to vote for local offices, where Democrats still maintain control, but reject the well-known Democrats for top-of-the-ballot races because they plan to vote GOP in the fall.
On the August 30th ballot, for the first time in Florida’s history, there will be a primary for a minor party nomination for US Senate. Candidates Augustus Invictus and Paul Stanton are set to face off. The race will only be on the ballot of registered libertarians, who only make up just over 26,000 of the state’s 12.3 million registered voters.