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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Five Florida election issues to watch in November

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 4:31 PM

  • Photo via White House/Flickr
With Tuesday’s primary elections finished, Florida can turn its political attention to the main event: the Nov. 3 general election.

Here is an early look at five issues to watch in November:

— THE BIG ENCHILADA: Florida will again be a key state as President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden battle for the White House. The state is probably most critical for Trump, whose vice president, Mike Pence, has been a frequent visitor in recent weeks. A closely watched issue will be how —- or if —- Trump affects down-ballot races. Pundits have speculated for months that Trump will turn off many independent and suburban voters, which could affect other races. But Trump is buoyed by unflinching support from the Republican base, and it remains to be seen whether Democrats can win over potential swing voters.

— ALL ABOUT THE SENATE: Interested in legislative politics? If so, get familiar with these four names: Jason Brodeur, Patricia Sigman, Javier Fernandez and Ana Maria Rodriguez. Republicans and Democrats are focused on two open Senate seats —- Senate District 9 in Seminole and Volusia counties and Senate District 39 in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Democrats are trying to flip the two seats, which are held by term-limited Republicans David Simmons and Anitere Florida. Brodeur, a former Republican House member, and Sigman, backed by Democratic leaders, are running in District 9. Fernandez, a Democratic House member, and Rodriguez, a Republican House member, are running in District 39.

— TAKE IT TO THE HOUSE: While most congressional districts will be on the November ballot, the truth is that relatively few races are competitive. The GOP would love to flip Congressional District 26, where Republican Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Another fight is brewing in Congressional District 15, where Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin toppled incumbent Congressman Ross Spano in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Franklin will face Democrat Alan Cohn in the district, which includes parts of Hillsborough, Polk and Lake counties.

— CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS: Voters will decide in November whether to approve six constitutional amendments, including a high-profile proposal that would gradually increase Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Deep-pocketed lawyer John Morgan spearheaded the effort to put the minimum-wage measure on the ballot, but business groups, including the restaurant and lodging industry, are gearing up to fight it. Another proposed amendment —- opposed by the Republican and Democratic parties —- would revamp the state’s primary-election system. The proposal would allow registered voters to cast ballots in primary elections regardless of party affiliation.

— CROSS YOUR FINGERS: That sound coming from Tallahassee on Tuesday night was probably a sigh of relief. The primary elections went smoothly, with heavy use of mail-in ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But Florida is, well, Florida. And it has a well-documented history of election problems and disputes. Many elections officials are encouraging voters to again use mail-in ballots in the general election, when turnout will be heavier than in the primaries. But questions remain, including what effect the pandemic will have on polling places and whether the postal service will be able to timely deliver a crush of mail-in ballots.

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