Few elections have as big an impact as the 2018 mid-terms, when a number of positions at the municipal, state and federal level are in play, including the Florida governorship, the election of a U.S. Senator from Florida and a couple of national Congressional seats.
With the elections set for November 6, it is vital to be well informed in order to elect our representatives in a responsible way.
Voter turnout in South Florida through early and absentee ballots was already higher than in 2014, according to numbers released over the summer.
SCOTT vs. NELSON
One of the races that has garnered a lot of attention, both because the candidates are well known and very close in the polls, is the one for the U.S. Senate seat that Democrat Bill Nelson has held since 2001.
But this time Nelson faces a serious challenge from Gov. Rick Scott, who will be leaving his post as the State’s top executive at the end of the year.
Nelson won reelection with relative ease in 2006 and 2012, but if Scott wins he would join Marco Rubio and Florida would have two Republican Senators for the first time since 1875. In the last 140-plus years, there have always been either two Democratic Senators or one Democrat and one Republican.
Scott, a multimillionaire who built his wealth in the pharmaceutical industry, has skillfully maneuvered to attract the support of many Puerto Rican voters who have traditionally aligned with the Democrats but vividly remember the aid the Governor offered to Puerto Rico after the devastating blow of Hurricane Maria.
GILLUM vs. DeSANTIS
In the race to replace Scott in the governorship, Congressman Ron DeSantis, a conservative politician from Jacksonville associated with the Tea Party, has the endorsement of President Donald Trump.
On the Democratic side, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum beat out Miami Beach's former mayor Philip Levine, real estate entrepreneur Jeff Greene and former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, daughter of former Governor and Senator Bob Graham, for the nomination.
Democrats are looking to reverse a negative trend in Florida politics, marked by the fact that the last Democrat to win a gubernatorial election was Lawton Chiles in 1994.
DISTRICT 26 & 27
South Florida will also feature two very interesting races for the U.S. House of Representatives in Districts 26 and 27.
After Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced she was not running for the seat she has held since 1989, District 27 was considered open to a first level battle between Republicans and Democrats.
On the Republican side, Cuban-American journalist Maria Elvira Salazar won the August Primary, while Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration, former University of Miami President and former Clinton Foundation President, won the Democratic nomination.
In the race for District 26, created in 2012 and whose first Representative was Democrat Joe Garcia, Republican Carlos Curbelo will seek a second reelection after defeating Garcia in 2014 and 2016.
Curbelo will face Democratic candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. District 26, which includes parts of Southern Miami-Dade County and Northern Monroe County, tends to be liberal and in the last two presidential elections voted decisively for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Curbelo, a Cuban-American, has held moderate positions in matters like immigration policy.
Miami-Dade will also be voting for County Commission, with Commisioners Jean Monestime, Rebeca Sosa, Daniella Levin Cava, Javier Souto and José “Pepe” Díaz seeking reelection, State Senators and Representatives, School Board Members and Circuit and County Judges.
Florida voters will also wrestle with 12 proposed constitutional amendments covering a wide range of topics, from property taxes to victims' rights and even to gambling across the state.
Republican Ashley Moody and Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw face off in the race to replace Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi. Moody is a former judge and federal prosecutor from the Tampa area who has criticized Shaw's lack of experience in the courtroom. Shaw would be Florida's first black attorney general. The 40-year-old from Tampa is the son of the late state Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw. He campaigned as a consumer advocate and called for new gun restrictions.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is hoping to keep the seat he was appointed to fill when Republican CFO Jeff Atwater left office early. He is being challenged by former Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring. Patronis served eight years in the state House before being appointed by Scott to the board that regulates the state's utilities. He was appointed chief financial officer in June 2017. Ring is a former Yahoo executive from Broward County. He served in the state Senate from 2006 to 2016.
Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell faces Democratic lobbyist and lawyer Nikki Fried in the race to replace Putnam. Caldwell is a real estate appraiser and seventh generation Floridian who served as chairman of the House Government Accountability Committee. He served eight years in the House. Fried based a large part of her campaign advocating for the medical marijuana industry and criticizing the state's implementation of a constitutional amendment approved by voters that allows medical use of marijuana in Florida. Fried would be the first woman elected as Florida agriculture commissioner.