Friday, October 24, 2008

Not So Safe

Florida GOP incumbents are suddenly running for their lives.

Orlando Congressman Tom Feeney, a former speaker of the Florida House and one-time running mate of former Gov. Jeb Bush, has become the poster child for the declining fortunes of the Republican Party in Florida.

In 2002, Feeney carved a Congressional district for himself from a Republican-leaning swath of Orlando. Now, after three terms in Congress and a barrage of bad publicity, the National Republican Congressional Committee this week stopped advertising on Feeney’s behalf — proof of their concern that he could lose his seat to Democrats on Nov. 4.

It’s the coattail effect to the max: If Barack Obama draws record numbers of Democrats to the polls, Feeney and other Republicans fear a Democratic surge could hurt their chances in races all the way down the ballot.

Also at risk are Orlando Republican Ric Keller, Miami’s Diaz-Balart brothers, Lincoln and Mario, six to 10 competitive state House seats and three state Senate districts — all once considered safe for Republicans.

”I would not want to be a Republican in a close race in South Florida right now,” said Democratic pollster Tom Eldon, of Schroth Eldon Associates.

The reasons: voter dissatisfaction with the national economy, an electorate seeking change and a massive voter registration drive by Democrats that gives them a 657,000-vote edge over Republicans — including 308,000 in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties alone.

This is what happens when you take things such as party affiliation and incumbency for granted…and you echo nothing but the party line.

By the way, that’s a warning for Democrats, too.