Tuesday’s special election in House District 72 will either solidify the Republicans’ grip on the Florida House, or it will provide momentum for Democrats who are hoping for a “blue wave” in the upcoming midterm elections.
The district in Sarasota leans Republican and voted for Donald Trump in 2016. But Democrats have managed to flip 35 seats nationwide in the past year. They are hoping to make House District 72 another Democratic pickup.
Democrat Margaret Good has built some momentum heading into election day. She ran away from her Republican opponent James Buchanan in last month’s fundraising. Good brought in more than $257,058 compared to $70,690 for Buchanan.
It’s a rarity when a Democrat is able to raise more money than a Republican in Southwest Florida. What makes it even more impressive is when your opponent is the son of one of the wealthiest members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.
Good, a Siesta Key attorney, also picked up the endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden, who recorded a robocall supporting Good. But, Buchanan has drawn endorsements from big names within his own party. Florida Governor Rick Scott and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio have endorsed Buchanan.
Good, Buchanan, and Libertarian Alison Foxall are all fighting for the House seat once held by Alex Miller who resigned in August.
Traditionally, Florida Democrats have been quick to write-off elections in this part of the state. This year’s special election is different. The party sees the opportunity for an upset. This weekend about a dozen Democratic members of the House traveled to Sarasota to take part in a voter canvassing event with Good.
Buchanan had his own canvassing event attended by a group of state Republican legislators and other leaders from the GOP.
Perhaps a telling sign of the interest in Tuesday’s election comes from the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the early turnout in the election may have already set a record for a state House special election in Florida before the polls open on election day..
Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner researched voter turnout results in the state archives. The turnout figures only go back to 2003, but since then the largest voter turnout for a state House special election was 22 percent in 2008. Turnout in the District 72 race already is at 22.36 percent as of Saturday evening, and that’s only from absentee and in-person early voting.
“For the type of election it is it certainly is strong turnout,” Turner said, adding that the turnout figure “says a lot about the interest and excitement in this race.”
There will be a lot of interest from both sides when the vote totals are tabulated Tuesday night.