Democrats hopeful in Florida elections, yet face tough path

Politics

(NewsNation) — Democrats is Florida will be keeping a keen eye on Tuesday’s midterm races in one of the nation’s most pivotal swing states, yet some political experts say the state is already “fairly secure” for Republicans.

Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rising GOP star rumored to have presidential aspirations, remains the biggest name in Tuesday’s primaries, despite not being involved in one directly.

Two Democrats are locked in a tight primary race to be DeSantis’ opponent in November: Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Fried casts herself as “traditional” and is considered to be more progressive than Crist, who served in the Florida Senate and governor’s office as a Republican.

ST PETERSBURG, FL – AUGUST 23: Florida Gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) speaks to the media before casting his vote in the primary election at The Gathering Church on August 23, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. Crist faces his opposition Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Both Crist and Fried have spent a good amount of their time not only attacking each other, but leveling blows at DeSantis as well.

Fried upped her attacks on DeSantis when she became mired in controversy after allegations that she failed to disclose money she made as a lobbyist before beginning her gubernatorial campaign.

When pressed about her alleged failure to report over $350,000 in earnings, Fried’s campaign instead directed attention back toward DeSantis.

“Commissioner Fried is being attacked for following the law and showing transparency, exactly the opposite of what Republican Ron DeSantis and his cohorts do every day,” said Fried spokesman Drew Godinich.

ST PETERSBURG, FL – JUNE 28: Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) gives a campaign speech in front of her supporters at the Pinellas County Democratic headquarters on June 28, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. Rep. Demings is campaigning to become the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate and to challenge Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for his seat in November. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Regardless of if Fried or Crist is the Democratic nominee, political experts feel November’s midterms are Republicans’ to lose.

“I think you can definitely say that Florida is fairly secure red at this point,” said Brian Fonseca, director of the Institute for Public Policy at Florida International University. “We’ve seen over the last few electoral cycles that Republicans continue to dominate.”

Elsewhere in Florida, Democrats are hopeful Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., who is expected to win her Democratic Senate primary, can give Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, a tight race in November.

Polling shows Demings could not just give Rubio a run for his money, but might be able to upset him, stealing the Senate seat he has held since 2011.

“She’s really been able to effectively counter some of the Republican messaging by saying ‘look I was the police chief of Orlando, I was a cop’ and I think it really waters down a lot of Republican attacks,” said The Hill’s national politics reporter Max Greenwood.

FILE – In this April 14, 2021 file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Rep. Val Demings is planning to challenge Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, giving Democrats a boost in a competitive 2022 race that could decide control of the Senate. That’s according to two people with knowledge of the plans. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

Despite the beacon of hope Demings serves for Democrats in the state, experts concede it will not be an easy path to victory for the party.

“The biggest thing is gonna be turnout,” Fonseca said. “It’s really going to come down to turnout whether or not the democratic party can sort of inspire enough democrats to turnout to make an honest run at unseating a Republican or vying for a seat that’s in close contention with Republicans.”

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