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Candidate qualifying for the 2012 Florida legislative elections has concluded and the Republican grip on the State Senate has gotten stronger than it appeared it would be following the Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision in favor of this redistricting plan. The Tampa Bay Times characterized the plan as having 22 strong Republican districts. 15 strong Democratic ones and 3 districts the Democrats could win. But the Democrats do not seem interested in trying to win 17 seats, rather they are simply competing for the easy ones, plus a marginal seat in Volusia County.
The shock of qualifying week was that the Democrats were unable to field a candidate in the St Petersburg based Senate District 22, won by both Barack Obama and Alex Sink. The GOP primary between Reps. Jim Frishe and Jeff Brandes is being contested based on internal Tallahassee Republican leadership politics. For whatever reason the Democrats chose to disengage completely in this district, and once the primary was closed by a write-in candidate approximately half the voters in the district were effectively disenfranchised. At a time when Democrats in Florida are justifiably challenging a voter purge in direct violation of the 1965 Voting Right Act, they seem committed to purging voters in another more subtle way, by not fielding serious Legislative candidates in the majority of Florida districts.
Since the Democrats have chosen to ignore most of the Senate map either by fielding pathetically weak candidates some self recruited or by not contesting seats at all, we will transition to analyzing Republican primaries next Monday, as well as creating House ratings. In the House, the Democrats prospects are better when compared relatively to the Senate, though as we outlined last Friday, several potential pickup opportunities were ignored by the party for this election cycle.