Monday, July 10, 2006

Tampa Bay's Hottest Federal Race

Florida's 9th Congressional District is still the biggest federal race in the Tampa Bay area. While Congressman Bill Young's district in the adjacent 10th will become a fiercely fought battleground the minute he retires (which many believe will not be until his son turns 25 and is eligible for run for the seat), the race for the open 1tth District certain to be decided in the primary, andthe U.S. Senate race having been effectively decided months ago in Sen. Bill Nelson's favor, only the 9th provides any real excitment for the voters of Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

The race pits Rep. Gus Bilirakis, the son of retiring incumbent, Mike Bilirakis, against former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky. If the father were to run for re-election, this seat would not be on anybody's radar. But with no incumbent, a tricky year for national Republicans, and a Republican who vocally supports the unpopular Medicare prescription drug benefit, things have become less clear cut for the prognosticators.

In 2000, President Bush won this seat with 53% and increased his percentage to 57% in 2004. Democratic operative use a number called DPI - the Democratic Performance Index - to measure a district natural partisan tendencies. While this number is not publicly available, it seems likely that it is not in the 48-52 DPI range, which is considered the "swing district" range. But in a year where the national GOP is struggling, seats with DPIs in the low sixties are suddenly looking competitive.

At present, this seat is still second tier for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the DCCC, or the "D Triple C" or just the "D Trip" in political shorthand) when compared to districs like the Florida 22nd, the Indiana 8th, the Ohio 18th, and the New Mexico 1st, it is poised to move up in the rankings.


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