Looking ahead to the 2014 State House campaigns

On Sunday, The Florida Squeeze will unveil our pre-qualifying ratings of House races throughout the state. Following qualifying we plan to update these ratings each Sunday until the November election.


While the reapportionment trial is continuing to expose the lengths to which some Republicans went to circumvent the law and the spirit of the Fair Districts amendments passed in 2010,  the reality in the House remains that the Democrats underperformed badly in 2012 even by the standards of a the map that the GOP drew.

The Republicans in the House, unlike their Senate counterparts, drew a map which would have allowed the Democrats to reach possibly 50 seats or more if  the party’s candidate recruitment efforts and planning had been better organized. Instead the Democrats left entered the 2013 Legislative Session with 44 members and added a 45th, Rep. Amanda Murphy, in an October Special Election victory. While Democrats left many seats on the table many in the party were patting themselves on the back for simply winning seats that had been either handed to them or where the candidates themselves made the effort to win without coordinated party help.

At the beginning of the 2014 cycle, Democrats had high hopes of picking up some of the seats that the GOP had left accessible to Democratic candidates. But tumult caused by internal strife within the House Democratic caucus coupled with the changing political winds statewide could make this quite possibly more of a “hold” than “gain” cycle for the Democrats in the House, at least based on our initial assessment that will be released Sunday. Still, opportunities are plentiful on the map for Democrats and with qualifying not yet closed, it is still possible for the minority party to put more seats in play.

On the Republican side, the party feels some of the best candidates they have recruited this cycle are against the most vulnerable Democrats on the map. They point to notable recruits against Rep. Carl Zimmerman and Rep. Karen Castor Dentel as proof of this.

Look for our initial ratings for the House races with some analysis on Sunday morning.


  1. Timothy · ·

    Missed opportunities for the Democrats list probably longer than the actual target list.


  2. Blue Dog Dem · ·

    The Democrats blew the chance to win the Gainesville race against Keith Perry with a prolonged and disastrous recruiting process.

    Debbie Boyd a former Rep wanted to run but couldn’t get the assurances she needed from the party and has skipped the race.


    1. This race has been a mess but the Democrat currently running is doing alright from what we can gather. Perry is not getting the pass some feared, though clearly he is not facing the toughest possible Dem either.


  3. Dems in 14 · ·

    The thought that this is a hold cycle rather than a win one is thanks to the former leader designate Darryl Rouson over reaching in multiple occasions.

    Mark Pafford came in and inherited a mess.

    It is also very important for you guys to understand these sorts of articles and analysis is hurting our ability to recruit candidates and raise money. People read this site and you have created a bad impression of the Democrats ability to compete this election cycle.

    Being spun by disaffected House members, those on the outs with the state party and marginal Nan Rich supporters is doing disservice to the causes this site claims to support.

    You guys should be cautious before issuing these ratings. Do not continue to hurt the party.


    1. So you are saying this blog us responsible for the party not being able to raise money or recruit candidates?

      Yes we have a lot of readers with growing numbers every week, but please we don’t have anywhere near that scope or reach!

      What a canard!


    2. Outside Tallahassee Dem · ·

      This blog is the only thing holding House Victory or the FDP accountable. Instead of those folks on Bronough creating fake twitter accounts and whining they should try creating some real strategies to win. They won’t even hold the line at 45 seats and are focusing on primaries like Rangel and unwinnable seats like 89 instead of defending Zimmerman or Clelland properly, and not taking out the extremely vulnerable Manny Diaz. Mark Pafford, Alison Tant and the corrupt Christian Ulvert need to be held to a standard like never before.

      No more kool aid for Democrats in Florida thanks to the truth The Florida Squeeze exposes.


      1. Democratic Guy · ·

        I think it is really unfair to go after Pafford. The situation is terrible because of Ulvert. Pafford inherited a mess. The state party leadership has essentially allowed Christian to fill a vacuum for both House and Senate and statewide races also. I am sure if he had done the hiring Pafford would not of hired Christian.


    3. Democratic Guy · ·

      I do some party work and agree that this blog is widely read. It is pretty good in it’s critiques of the party honestly.

      I do think the Val Demings article earlier this week with more hurtful than helpful though and all the pro Nan Rich stuff is very hurtful to the party.

      It must be said though the critiques of the Florida Democratic Party structure leadership and infrastructure on the site almost all spot on.


      1. Dems in 14 · ·

        Totally disagree with you. These articles hurt the party. The Demings narrative was good actually. Only Kartik article worth reading recently.

        If party staff had more power than consultants things would be better.


  4. Mallory · ·

    I would assume at some point this site being the watchdog of the Democratic Party that it is will have a full expose on the bungled candidate recruitment process this cycle.

    Everybody focuses on the poor fundraising but if you can’t even recruit good candidates who cares how much money you do or don’t raise?


  5. Democratic Guy · ·

    The leadership change was costly. Probably shouldn’t have happened but now members and donors loyal to Rouson and his allies aren’t helping.



  6. Margaret · ·

    The party is such a mess I hope they actually have the resources and campaign strategy to help incumbents. Of course with a map that is more favorable than the number of seats we have we should be chasing seats but we just are not organized or structured enough to do that.

    I know we all wish it were different but the party leadership and House leadership just don’t have the vision or imagination to make things work.


  7. Dems in 14 · ·

    I’m not saying you are solely responsible but you guys have a massive reach. Every time you pen one of these articles they get passed around like wildfire. The problem is people read what you write and take them seriously. You are considered a smart guy.

    So now here comes the problem. You do nothing but bash the party. People take what you say seriously so then person a that reads your articles talk to person B who decides not to give money to the party or they’re not going to help us recruit candidates.

    Now let’s talk about the governor’s race. We should all be working together to elect Charlie Crist. Irrespective of what you say in the past he is a Democrat now and a very good one, someone we can hope for that can help sustain and lead our party for years to come.

    Many people read the critiques on this site and pass them around and say you know what we really think we should have a primary you know what we really should prop up a candidate who has absolutely no chance of winning and has no business running. Nan Rich is a spoiler plain and simple and those helping her are consciously or unconsciously helping Rick Scott ensure reelection.

    With readership and power comes responsibility. That is the problem here. As your readership has grown you have shown only slight signs of pragmatism. You should be working with the party to Elect Democrats not against the party to throw stones at Democrats


    1. So basically we should coordinate our writings and articles with the party? That is your suggestion? Simply reiterate party talking points?

      I am struck by this allegation that somehow this website is to blame for some of the party’s troubles. We are trying to help fix the party and bring accountability.


      1. Dems in 14 · ·

        If you want us to win you should at least be on message. So yes I’d coordinate articles with the House and Senate caucus offices and the FDP press coordinators. All the legislators with a few rogue exceptions do it as do all the progressive groups. You are getting your info from the rogues.


      2. Wendy Sejour · ·

        GMAFB! If you want this blog to be on message you have to PROVIDE ONE. The party has not had an effective, coherent message for the past 6 cycles at least.


    2. Also I am not sure how rating House races based on current circumstances hurts the party or the other party. This whole discussion is illogical in this thread.


    3. Wendy Sejour · ·

      You cannot be serious, the FDP has been messed up for at least the last decade, long before the creation of this blog. Since you are an FDP staffer I understand that it may be hard to hear the truth, but the only people hurting the party are the so called “leadership” who don’t know crap from shinola. This leadership put the power into the hands of consultants who feed their egos and line their own pocketbooks. We on the ground have been watching the circus for years, sucking it up and hoping it would change. We are fed up and we are not going to take it anymore. Sitting down and being good children has not worked, it’s about time we threw a tantrum


    4. Demodaysi · ·

      How is Nan Rich the spoiler, when she was in the race for governor a full year before Crist jumped in? If I’m not mistaken, a spoiler is someone who jumps in and interrupts the process. In that case Crist is the spoiler. If the party had backed Nan Rich when she was the only one running, she would have the funds and backing needed to win.


  8. The candidate recruitment in the Tampa Bay area has been nothing short of awful.


    1. Dems in 14 · ·

      Blame Rouson


  9. Yellow Dog Democrat · ·

    Kartik, As usual you are spot on in your overview assessment of the Florida House races and In can’t wait for your more detailed report!

    Don’t listen to “Dems in 14” because the sad problem we have is that MORE people need to read your honest assessment..not less…and I’ve stated that numerous times in my posted comments because the more people realize the truth and wake up and “figuratively” “knock some heads up and down the Democratic Party structure to help get Democrats elected.

    Even though we disagree on the Progressive-Liberal (you) vs Moderate (me) Democrat label approach, we are in 100% agreement on the absolutely miserable job that the party structure has that exists today from top to bottom, with horrible fundraising at the top (ie Allison Tant) and the collective over paid mismanagement that Scott Arceneau and Christian Ulvert have done in recruitment and especially (and here is my REAL pet peeve) in the continued incestious relationships of paying millions of dollars through House and Senate Victory to the same old loosing consultants from Tallahassee, Washington and (even though I’ve harranged the higher ups) it’s no different around the state weather it’s Tampa Bay, Orlando or Miami.

    There are a few local (loosing) carpetbagging Democratic consultants around the state as well who have been here all of a couple of years, who change the name of their company every year, running around spreading their continued loosing misery on many an unsuspecting wide eyed rookie Democratic candidate who doesn’t know any better and who brag about their connections, then overcharge to line their pockets and leave the poor loosing Democrat in the dust..with another Democratic loss.

    No one is immune form the disastrous failures for the Democrats that continued to be mitigated by everyone up and down the food chain who want to keep their individual “gravy train” going.

    Note To Candidates: Ask how many “LOSSES” that consultant that’s hustling you has.

    It’s very, very sad.

    And my overall assessment on the House races is very similar to yours..the Democrats will be very, very lucky to hold on to whatever seats they have now. And the “tease” seats that you mentioned that have a few more Democrats that Republicans, like the Hooper-Clearwater seat that has Republican icon Jack Latvala’s son running, the Spano-Brandon seat and the Brandis-Pinellas-Hillsbotrough seat all have Democrats with no money, no direction, no name, no roots, no infrastructure and they are being led by the nose and talked into running by those local loosing carpetbagging consultants the same way a dancer looks at a John in a strip bar as a way to make a buck.

    Instead of leaving a “dead dog lie” and give Republican House and Senate incumbents a reason to turn on the lobbyist and Republican party money spicket and drown and bury their hapless Democratic opponent with a 10 to 1 money advantage, Democrats should “carefully” pick good candidates and be prepared to fight fire with fire and dollar for dollar in each and every race they want to win instead of the haphazard way we throw the Democratic deer out into the middle of the road to die like we do now.

    And the worst part of it is, that my wide eyed Democratic friends don’t realize until its too late, is that all that Republican money that pours into these individual Republican incumbent challenged races helps turn out Republican voters and hurts bigger Democratic races like the Governor’s race and others that we should be concentrating on to win.


  10. The decision to make Pafford the Democratic leader was all about maintaining the status quo and influence for the establishment of the Democratic Party.

    It is not dissimilar from the Charlie Crist push by the party as the governors although of course Crist could possibly win.

    In the house races the Ds won’t win anything. Making matters worse is that the party staff and Pafford himself are lowering expectations. Yet they have trolling allies that want to blame this excellent website for their problems.

    Just laughable!


  11. Yellow Dog Democrat · ·

    Kartik, PS Keep it coming!!

    “Those who don’t learn from history (or their mistakes) are doomed to repeat it!”


  12. Dems in 14

    As a partisan I’m depressed by a lot of the things I read on the site.

    I appreciate your advocacy for our party.

    My thing is Kartik and Dave Trotter essentially nailed the numbers on the hurricane last time around.

    The seats Ds we’re touting they dismissed yet rode Danish and Clelland the whole time.

    So I’m going to really pay attention to these ratings on Sunday. Sorry but I am.


    1. Dems in 14 · ·

      Yes they have influence. Much more now so than in the last election. That is why this is so serious.


  13. Grumpy old man · ·

    The Tampa Bay Times analysis said that there were at least 53 Democratic districts drawn on this map. We are sitting at 45. That is unacceptable.


    1. That 53 does not include the Miami-Dade seats trending Dem. The real number is somewhere like 56 or 57. Obviously the power of incumbency and having the money means realistically 51 or 52 is the target, Still coming back with 45 is the best we can hope with this TERRIBLE leadership.


  14. Go Dems · ·

    I love this site but sometimes all Kartik simply states is what in plainly & painfully obvious yet what other people are Unwilling to articulate publicly. Then he’s called brilliant by those who see the obvious. The brilliant tag comes from those who know he’s right but they use him to get their message out.

    The real crime is that other people aren’t willing to step out and say what is so obvious. Maybe if we had more voices singing from this same song we wouldn’t have a situation where the party is running us off the rails yet again.


  15. Can't take it anymore · ·

    By reading some of Dems in 14’s comments I am already seeing how this is going to play out after such a horrible 2014 cycle for Dems is complete…blame it on everyone but the players who really are to blame: Pafford (and his gang), Ulvert, Tant, DWS, status quo consultants and most of all Arceneaux.


  16. Fla Dem · ·

    What about the Senate?

    Any pickup chances there?


  17. Look there is no excuse for not picking up seats.

    The Republicans are at an unnaturally high level especially on this new map.

    The Senate is a different story.


  18. Can't take it anymore · ·

    It looks like there is an opportunity to lose the Sachs seat if Bogdanoff runs again. In the off year the turnout would be troublesome for Sachs plus SV won’t have the money to compete. I keep hearing that SV is serious about taking out Brandeis but thats just silly…again, no money to compete and a lackluster candidate. So, best case scenario is they stay at 14. Pathetic.


  19. Demodaysi · ·

    When we see the lack in leadership in the FDP, its obvious. How can you have someone running the FDP who has never run a political campaign? That is why she is at the mercy of Ulvert and his friends. The staff and consultants should be changed when the Chair is changed; every four years. They would have to show their worth to be in those positions. Its like insanity; doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.


    1. Yellow Dog Democrat · ·

      A great start of cleaning out the loosing consultant deadwood would be to immediately fire, suspend or ban any consultant, or operative who worked on the disasterous Alex Sink campaign starting with Nick Janowsky and Ashley Walker and any TV, Mail Guy (ie Dylan Sumner) and Polster!!!

      Sounds cruel?

      Damn right! But you’ve got to start somewhere and someone has to be made accountable and made an example of!

      This is not a game…this is a business!

      You loose…your out! I don’t care how much you suck up to or pay off Alluson Tant, Christian Ulvert and. Scott Arceneaux…those 3 should be gone too.

      It’s time to clean house and start over.

      It can’t get any worse than we are doing now?

      It’s time to give some other consultants who have never had a chance or been part if the “click” an opportunity to actually win something for a change!


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