Friday, February 22, 2008

A Sure Sign

Who is in the most danger in two of Central Florida's most hotly contested races?

In FL-8, Ric Keller is facing a primary challenge after backing out of his self-imposed term limitation promise. He's leading the fundraising in the primary with almost $183,00 this quarter and a whopping $617,000 on hand. His Democratic opponents are doing almost as well.

Mike Smith raised $120,000 in the quarter and has $271,000 on hand while Charlie Stuart - Keller's opponent in a close race in 2006 - raised $117,000 and has $266,000 on hand. This will be a hard-fought primary with both candidates getting a lot of airplay leading to some good familiarity in the General Election.

I've already discussed the fundraising in the Feeney-Kosmas-Curtis race. One thing I'll say that Clint Curtis has going for him is the loyalty of his supporters. They are like Ron Paul's ardent admirers - one bad word and they let you know about it.

A lot of people don't want this race to be about money. I wish it weren't a political reality but it is. For a minute, let's take money out of it and look at the action on the ground.

I was at a meeting with a group of local Republicans, City Commissioners and other supporters planning a community event. For obvious reasons, we normally don't discuss politics but a discussion ensued over Kosmas being in the race and whether she can beat Curtis in the primary.

The real buzz at this meeting was the seeming acceptance that Tom Feeney will not be re-elected if that happens. Many have abandoned what they feel is a sinking ship but are loathe to pool their efforts to help Keller get re-elected. They may turn to his primary opponent, Todd Long, who I think is far too conservative to get elected in an almost 50-50 district.

FL-7 is John Mica and he's safe. Rep. Dave Weldon (FL-15) is not running but I doubt the district will go blue unless a strong candidate jumps in. A telling sign will be the winner of the special election next week to fill disgraced state representative Bob Allen's seat. If it goes blue, this is a race that will draw Republican supporters from other districts to shore up the red candidate.

Overall, though, there is a rising drumbeat among Republicans that Central Florida will be 2 & 2 with Feeney and Keller out. That's a sure sign they are both in real danger.