Yesterday Kartik and I wrote about the Bogdanoff’s announcement and how it was troubling for the Democrats, who will struggle to maintain two competitive Senate races and how it may effect the District 22 race where McLauchlan is challenging Brandes. Later that same afternoon, Republican Joseph Bensmihen announced that he will also run against Sachs, meaning that Bogdanoff will face him in a primary along with Karin Hoffman. A three-way primary (albeit lop-sided and mostly between Bogdanoff and Bensmihen) is definitely an interesting development, but it is too early to tell if it will be good news or not for Senator Sachs.
The first reaction is of course that a primary will draw resources out of the November race and force Bogdanoff to spend early, which will benefit the Democrats. However, a heated primary also may invigorate the base and get more people motivated to vote in the general election, which could be problematic in this tight race. In races such as this, it is unknown who benefits and outside factors play a huge significance. Sachs still has the edge in her district, as it leans Democratic, but in a non-presidential year will Democrats turn out? Coastal South Florida areas tend to trend towards Republicans in off-year elections.
It is too early to tell if Bensmihen will prove to be a truly dangerous challenger to Bogdanoff, or if the state party will get involved in the primary. But this is definitely an interesting development and leaves more potential possibilities for Senator Sachs to pull out ahead.
All of this of course relates back to the overlying battle over the 2016 Senate Presidency. This announcement, combined with the fact that Bogdanoff was widely expected to back Senator Latvala in his bid for the Senate Presidency, complicates things even more. Would this translate into more money in the race from Senator Latvala supporters? If she wins, Bogdanoff could be the tie-breaker that pushes Senator Latvala to victory. Will Senator Negron back Bensmihen to try to prevent this? Senator Negron is sitting on well over half-a-million dollars in his re-election campaign, so he could spread it around easily enough to help prop up his Senate President ambitions. If McLauchlan begins to close in on Senator Brandes, a vocal Senator Negron supporter, it might seem wise for Senator Negron to have another option to pull ahead come November. Of course, this means something to Democrats because a Latvala presidency will very very different from a Negron presidency and as we stated yesterday, the Senate has been the voice of reason in Florida government for several years now.
Make no mistake – these Senate races will be the ones to watch. 2016 control of the Senate, a veto-proof majority in the Senate with the possibility of a Democratic Governor, and then the redistricting lawsuit all promise to make this a showcase of Florida politics at its finest.