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Florida

Those terrible national policy ideas? They’ve likely already been attempted in Florida.

Florida's is a huge state with a closely-divided voter makeup that could swing to either political party. Major political change is in reach in a state Donald Trump carried by just 113,000 votes. In the August 28th primary, Republicans turned out 109,000 more voters than Democrats.

Most Impactful Investments

Get out the Vote Leverage

Strategy

The top priorities in Florida:

1. Elect  Andrew Gillum as Governor to help ensure fairness in the next redistricting process, increase the minimum wage, and expand Medicaid in the state;

2.  Flip 5 seats in the State Senate to give Democrats majority control and fairness in redistricting;

3.  Elect Sean Shaw as Attorney General to overturn disastrous “Stand Your Ground” gun laws;

4.  Pass Amendment 4 (the “Voting Restoration Amendment”) to rid the state of outdated Jim Crow laws and immediately restore voting rights for more than 1.5 million Floridians.

5.  Pick up 3 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to help Democrats regain majority control in Congress.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott is term-limited after 8 years in office and is now running for U.S. Senate. Democrats last elected a Democratic Governor in 1994. With one of the nation’s latest Primary Elections (August 28), the Democratic nominee for Governor (Gillum) has precious little time to put together the resources needed to win a General Election campaign. Donate now to state-level organizations that are laying the groundwork in a state where elections have recently been decided by 1 percentage point.

Investments in the Florida State Senate could be critical for the next decade. Democrats can take control of the State Senate by flipping 5 seats; Republicans, meanwhile, need a three-seat gain for a supermajority with the ability to override vetoes from the Governor.

Attorney General Pam Bondi has been a close – and vocal -- supporter of Donald Trump but is term-limited in 2018. Electing Sean Shaw as Attorney General will bring much-needed balance to a state government that has been dominated by Republicans in recent years.

Amendment 4, the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” is a critical ballot measure that would bring Florida voting laws in line with the rest of the country. Democratic lawmakers have tried for years to change Florida’s restrictions on voting rights for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes, but the Republican-controlled state legislature has always refused to cooperate; the decision will now be up to the voters in Florida.

Democrats have the opportunity to pick up several Congressional seats in Florida, which would contribute to the goal of re-taking the House majority in 2018. In FL-26, incumbent Rep. Carlos Curbelo has been called “the most endangered Republican in Congress” but is receiving significant help from national Republicans. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is a strong candidate. 

Political landscape

Republicans have long made Florida a breeding ground for awful policy ideas, from pioneering the right for citizens to carry concealed weapons to the infamous “Stand Your Ground” law that gained national attention in the 2012 shooting death of an unarmed black teenager named Trayvon Martin. It’s no mystery that Florida regularly ranks among the top 10 states in terms of violent crime. Florida Republicans have focused much of their efforts in recent years toward dismantling voting rights; defunding public education and affordable housing initiatives; and advancing policies that make sure Florida remains a low-wage state.

Florida’s state government has been under a Republican trifecta since 1998 (Republicans have had majorities in both legislative chambers and controlled the Governor’s office), but the political winds are starting to shift for Democrats. A court-ordered redrawing of district maps in 2015 put all 40 State Senate seats on the ballot in 2016; 20 of these seats are up again in 2018. The Democratic candidate won a special election in 2017 (SD-40), reducing the Republican Senate majority to 24-16. Democrats need to win 5 seats to take control of the State Senate, but at the very least, Republicans must be prevented from gaining a supermajority and the ability to override a veto from the Governor (the GOP gains a supermajority with a three-seat pickup).

Florida has sided with the eventual Presidential winner in every election since 2000, with margins of victory between 1 and 5 percent. Donald Trump won Florida with a 112,000-vote advantage of the 9.5 million votes cast. Republicans hold a 16-11 advantage in Florida’s Congressional delegation; the state is expected to gain at least 2 more Congressional seats after the next round of redistricting. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is running for re-election against term-limited Gov. Rick Scott, who spent more than $86 million of his own money in winning gubernatorial races in 2010 and 2014.

Florida has an interesting mix of demographics, retaining a heavy influence from elderly voters (19% of the population is 65 or older). Across the spectrum, nearly one-quarter of the population is Latino; more than half of Florida’s children are minorities; and only about one-third of Florida residents are native to the state.

Some 100,000 Puerto Ricans moved to Florida following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September 2017. This influx of traditionally-Democratic voters could have a significant effect on future elections in Florida.

Redistricting

Florida will gain 2 US House Seats in 2021 - will they be Blue?

Florida and New York are tied at 27 for the third-most Congressional districts of any state, but that may change in 2021. Florida has added new congressional districts following every U.S. Census since 1930; population trends indicate at least a 2-seat gain in the next round of redistricting.

Redistricting in Florida is overseen by the Governor and the state legislature (Congressional district lines are subject to gubernatorial veto). The State Supreme Court reviews boundaries for state legislative districts. Democrats must win the Governor’s race and majority control of the State Senate or State House (the Senate is more likely) in order to create a fair redistricting process in 2021.

Republican gerrymandering in the last round of redistricting led to legal battles that raged for four years. Traditionally-Democratic communities of African-American and Jewish voters were concentrated in a handful of districts, while Republican voters were spread more evenly around the state. When the courts finally signed off on redrawn maps in 2016, Democrats immediately picked up three new Congressional seats. Winning the Governor’s race and control of the State Senate in 2018 will be absolutely critical in determining the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election and political control through 2030.

Follow the $$

Individuals can contribute $2,000 to state legislative candidates and $6,000 for statewide candidates.

Florida has been controlled by Republicans for more than a decade in large part because of the seemingly-endless financial resources poured into the state. Democrats must close the gap in outside spending in Florida to have any hope of balancing state and federal politics.

US House Seats

There are 27 members of Florida’s Congressional delegation, more than any other state outside of California and Texas. Republicans hold a 16-11 advantage in Florida’s delegation thanks to gerrymandering; this imbalance was even more pronounced before legal battles redrew boundaries in 2016 and led to Democrats picking up 3 seats.

Democrats could flip at least 3 more seats in 2018, including potentially knocking off high-profile Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in FL-26, where Debbie Mucarsel Powell is a strong Democratic candidate.

Democrat Lauren Baer (FL-18) was a senior advisor to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Baer would be the first openly-gay Member of Congress from Florida if she can knock off Republican Rep. Brian Mast.

In FL-25, Democrat Mary Barzee Flores is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and presents a great opportunity to right a recent wrong. Barzee Flores was picked by President Obama to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court in 2015, but Florida Sen. Marco Rubio infamously blocked her from being considered; her nomination expired in January 2017.

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