Big-Money Florida Congressional Races the Whole Nation Is Watching

Races in seven Florida congressional districts continue to draw national attention as Democrats and Republicans battle for control of the U.S. House in Tuesday’s elections.

Listed as “hot races” byy the non-partisan, the seven contests have attracted sizable political contributions, usually an indication of who donors, parties and special interests believe have a chance.

The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics said that in the battle for the U.S. House, “more and more seats seem to be coming into play, with Republican and/or Democratic outside groups expanding their ad buys to districts where the GOP has seemed favored,” including Central Florida’s Congressional District 15 and Southeast Florida’s Congressional District 18.

In District 18 and in Northeast Florida’s Congressional District 6, the center earlier labeled the races “likely” Republican but moved them to “leans” Republican. Meanwhile, the center upgraded its evaluation of the GOP’s chances of retaining control of Southwest Florida’s Congressional District 16, held by Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. The center moved the race from “leans Republican” to “likely Republican.”

Here are snapshots of the seven Florida races targeted by

Congressional District 6

Registered voters: Republicans 38 percent, Democrats 33 percent.

2016 voting: 57 percent for President Donald Trump, 40 percent for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The seat, made up of all or parts of St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia and Lake counties, was held by Republican Ron DeSantis until he resigned in September to focus on his campaign for governor.

Democrat Nancy Soderberg, a former national-security official in the Clinton administration, had raised $2.8 million as of Oct. 17. Republican Michael Waltz, a businessman and former Army Green Beret, was at $1.7 million in fundraising.

Congressional District 15

Registered voters: Republicans 36 percent, Democrats 35 percent.

2016 voting: Trump 53 percent, Clinton 43 percent.

The seat, which includes parts of Hillsborough, Polk and Lake counties, opened because Republican Congressman Dennis Ross decided against seeking another term.

Kristen Carlson, a former prosecutor and general counsel at the Florida Department of Citrus, had raised $1.3 million as of Oct. 17. Republican candidate Ross Spano, a state House member and attorney from Dover, had raised $581,690.

Congressional District 16

Registered voters: Republicans 41 percent, Democrats 32 percent.

2016 voting: Trump 54 percent, Clinton 43 percent.

Held since 2013 by Buchanan, an auto dealer, the district covers all or parts of Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough counties.

Buchanan had raised $2.7 million. His Democratic opponent, attorney David Shapiro, had raised $2.3 million.

Congressional District 18

Registered voters: Republicans 38 percent, Democrats 34 percent.

2016 voting: Trump 53 percent, Clinton 44 percent.

A Republican-leaning district covering St. Lucie, Martin and northern Palm Beach counties, the region has since 2007 been represented by Democrat Tim Mahoney, Republican Tom Rooney, Democrat Patrick Murphy and, now, Republican Brian Mast.

Mast, a U.S. Army veteran who won the seat in 2016, had raised $5.3 million as of Oct. 17.

Democrat Lauren Baer, an attorney who served as a foreign policy adviser in the Obama administration, has raised $3.98 million. Baer entered the race with regional name recognition from her family’s ownership of Baer’s Furniture.

Congressional District 25

Registered voters: Republicans 38 percent, Democrats 29 percent.

2016 voting: Trump 50 percent, Clinton 48 percent.

Stretching across South Florida, the district includes parts of Miami-Dade and Collier counties and all of Hendry County.

Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a former state legislator who has been in the U.S. House since 2002, had raised $2.1 million.

Democrat Mary Barzee Flores, a former circuit judge in Miami-Dade, had raised $1.95 million.

Congressional District 26

Registered voters: Democrats 36 percent, Republicans 31 percent.

2016 voting: Clinton 57 percent, Trump 41 percent.

The district, which is made up of Southwest Miami-Dade County and all of Monroe County, is held by Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 2014.

Curbelo had raised $4.75 million as of Oct. 17. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who has worked for non-profit organizations and as director of development for Florida International University, had raised $3.75 million.

Congressional District 27

Registered voters: Democrats 36 percent, Republicans 32 percent.

2016 voting: Clinton 59 percent, Trump 39 percent.

The district, which includes areas in Southeast Miami-Dade, opened when Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen decided to retire after nearly 30 years in the U.S. House.

Democrat Donna Shalala, a former University of Miami president who served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, had raised $3.4 million.

Republican Maria Elvira Salazar, a long-time journalist and television personality who worked for Telemundo, had raised $1.54 million.