OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Democrats are becoming as powerless in Florida as Republicans are in deep-blue states like California and New York, though it stings more because the Sunshine State not long ago was considered a ‘battleground’ and ‘toss-up.’
And, according to the Tampa Bay Times, statewide offices just continue to turn redder, even as the state GOP now has more registered voters than the state Democratic Party for the first time in Florida History.
In a report about filing deadlines for legislative and state elected offices, the paper reported that Democrats appear resigned to remaining a minority.
“Democrats fielded a candidate in each statewide race: Governor, Chief Financial Officer, Agriculture Commissioner and Attorney General. All of those positions are currently held by Republicans except for Agriculture Commissioner,” the paper noted.
“Currently, Republicans hold a 76-42 edge in the Florida House, with two vacancies, and a 23-16 advantage in the Senate, with one vacancy. The House and Senate almost certainly will remain under the control of Republicans. Democratic leaders in both chambers say their priority is holding onto the seats the party already has,” the Times added.
“This is a milestone moment in Florida’s history,” said Helen Aguirre Ferré, executive director of the Republican Party of Florida.
Voter registration data shows that there are 5,142,002 registered Republicans in the state of Florida in 2022.
By comparison, there are 5,007,590 Democrats registered in the state.
This means that there are now 134,412 more registered Republicans in the state than Democrats.
Steve Schale, a longtime Florida Democratic strategist, is telling Democrats that they could be in huge trouble going forward.
“Without a full-frontal, professional and accountable partisan effort to turn it around, sometime before the end of this year, there will be more Republicans registered in Florida than Democrats,” Schale noted in his blog.
“That has NEVER happened before. And, given their voters have higher turnout scores — this isn’t a great place to start,” he added.
Republicans are also aware of their massive gains, and the party has no plans to put on the brakes.
“In a state like Florida, when you consider that you get 1,000 new residents a day, you really can’t stop. You have to keep going and you have to keep engaging,” said Helen Aguirre Ferré, Republican Party of Florida’s executive director.
“We are going to flip Florida and we’re going to make Florida red permanently,” said Florida GOP State Chair Sen. Joe Gruters in a blunter assessment.
The Tampa Bay Times noted more GOP advantages: “In the Senate, Democrats did not appear to field a candidate in 15 out of 40 races as of Friday afternoon. In the House, Democrats apparently failed to contest 41 out of 120 races. Those numbers were somewhat subject to change with qualifications still trickling in late Friday. House Republicans celebrated the election of at least 20 of their members.”
Inbox from Florida House Republican Campaign Committee:
Presenting the "Freedom Firewall," GOP incumbents elected w/o opposition. pic.twitter.com/oOVQi5tUXQ
— Jim Rosica (@JimRosicaFL) June 17, 2022
The paper’s report also notes that Gov. Ron DeSantis is very popular with residents and appears to be coasting to reelection.
When asked whether Democrats had a chance to flip the Senate, minority leader Lauren Book (D-Plantation) was blunt.
“No. That’s going to be a multi-cycle plan,” she said Friday. “I’m not going to lie to candidates. I’m not going to lie to donors and I’m not going to lie to the public.”
Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, who will lead the Democrats’ efforts to win legislative races, noted the tough environment for her party.
“The headwinds are against us, so I think by hanging a very focused strategy with strong candidates, we can maintain the power that we have and prevent us from slipping into a supermajority-superminority situation,” she said in a Friday interview, a nod to a situation where the number of Democrats is diminished so much that there is little opposition they can realistically offer Republicans when it comes to the GOP’s legislative priorities.
The GOP in Florida, meanwhile, is being mum about the party’s midterm election strategy.
“Needless to say we don’t talk strategy, polling, numbers or anything relative to operations of Senate campaigns,” Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, who will assume the Senate presidency if Republicans hold onto power, told the Times.