Florida House races to help determine control in Washington

Published 11-06-2018

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MIAMI (AP) - Florida is a perennial political battleground state, and it's no different this year in races for the U.S. House that could help decide which party controls the chamber in Washington.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala is in the marquee race Tuesday, seeking at age 77 to hand the Miami area's 27th District to the Democrats after years of Republican control. She faces Republican former television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar for the seat, which has been represented for decades by GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring.

Next door, in the 26th District, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is struggling to hold on to a seat that has switched back and forth between the GOP and Democrats in recent years. The Cuban-American lawmaker faces Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who has worked for several nonprofit organizations in the Miami area and is originally from Ecuador.

Those two seats are the most hotly contested of Florida's 27 House races. The majority of districts represented by incumbents appear likely to stay that way, beginning with four unopposed Democrats.

Headed for automatic re-election with no GOP or write-in opponents are Reps. Frederica Wilson of Miami-based District 24; Val Demings of the Orlando area's District 10; Lois Frankel of Palm Beach County's District 21; and Kathy Castor of District 14, in the Tampa area.

A fifth incumbent Democrat, Rep. Alcee Hastings, faces only token write-in opposition in South Florida District 20.

Elsewhere, there are a few competitive House races that bear watching.

In the Daytona Beach area, the 6th District seat formerly represented by Republican Ron DeSantis has seen a spirited campaign between Democrat Nancy Soderberg - a college administrator and former National Security Council and United Nations official - and Republican Michael Waltz, a former Army Green Beret who served in Afghanistan. DeSantis resigned to run for Florida governor.

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who toppled longtime GOP Rep. John Mica in 2016, is in a tight re-election race against Republican state Rep. Mike Miller in the Orlando area's 7th District. And in Sarasota, veteran GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan has had a tough fight trying to retain his 16th District seat against Democratic attorney David Shapiro.

One other competitive seat is the Lakeland-based 15th District, where Republican Dennis Ross decided to retire this year. Democrat Kristen Carlson, an attorney who has worked as a prosecutor and also as general counsel to the Florida Department of Citrus, is battling Republican state Rep. Ross Spano for the seat.

Elsewhere, there are a few competitive House races that bear watching.

In the Daytona Beach area, the 6th District seat formerly represented by Republican Ron DeSantis has seen a spirited campaign between Democrat Nancy Soderberg - a college administrator and former National Security Council and United Nations official - and Republican Michael Waltz, a former Army Green Beret who served in Afghanistan. DeSantis resigned to run for Florida governor.

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who toppled longtime GOP Rep. John Mica in 2016, is in a tight re-election race against Republican state Rep. Mike Miller in the Orlando area's 7th District. And in Sarasota, veteran GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan has had a tough fight trying to retain his 16th District seat against Democratic attorney David Shapiro.

One other competitive seat is the Lakeland-based 15th District, where Republican Dennis Ross decided to retire this year. Democrat Kristen Carlson, an attorney who has worked as a prosecutor and also as general counsel to the Florida Department of Citrus, is battling Republican state Rep. Ross Spano for the seat.

Two other incumbent Republicans, Mario Diaz-Balart in the 25th District and Brian Mast in the 18th District, have appeared on national-upset watch lists but most recent polls indicate they will prevail.

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Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt

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For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who toppled longtime GOP Rep. John Mica in 2016, is in a tight re-election race against Republican state Rep. Mike Miller in the Orlando area's 7th District. And in Sarasota, veteran GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan has had a tough fight trying to retain his 16th District seat against Democratic attorney David Shapiro.

One other competitive seat is the Lakeland-based 15th District, where Republican Dennis Ross decided to retire this year. Democrat Kristen Carlson, an attorney who has worked as a prosecutor and also as general counsel to the Florida Department of Citrus, is battling Republican state Rep. Ross Spano for the seat.

Two other incumbent Republicans, Mario Diaz-Balart in the 25th District and Brian Mast in the 18th District, have appeared on national-upset watch lists but most recent polls indicate they will prevail.

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Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt

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For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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