What's in Store for Tampa Bay?
In 2006, the Tampa Bay area was the center of Florida's political universe, with the majority of the legislative seats that changed hands being located here. In 2008, we didn't much switching of hands at the legislative level anywhere (there was a special election in South Florida that switched to Democratic in the special election, but went back to the GOP in November.
Of course, three congressional seats changed parties in 2008 - but the epicenter was central Florida (the Space Coast's CD 16 was a sex scandal driver fluke for the second election in a row), not Pinellas or Hillsborough.
Part of this resulted from the absence of the sort of perfect storm of term limits that we saw in 2006 (I think that all of the seats that changed hands in 2006 were open).
Well, we may be seeing a similar perfect storm in 2010.
SD 16 has been opened by Sen. Charlie Justice's decision to run for Congress and while that seat leans Democrat (though close in 2006, four years later, it has become moved significantly, though for from overwhelmingly into the Democratic column) the return of Jack Latvala and Rep. Bill Heller's decision not to run for the seat will make it closely contested.
SD 13, currently held by Republican Dennis Jones, will be open and rumor has it that Rep. Janet Long, an extremely strong candidate, could try to flip his seat. Corrrection - SD 13 will not be open until 2012.
HD 45 is currently held by the former mayor of Dunedin, Tom Anderson. Republicans Kathryn Starkey and Richard Corcoran are already jockeying for that seat and likely to engage in a pretty heated primary, but another former Dunedin mayor, centrist Democrat Bob Hackworth is almost certainly looking at HD 45, which is fairly evenly split, geographically speaking, between Pinellas and Pasco Counties, but half the voting population lives in Dunedin.
Finally, across the bay, HD 57 will be open. Faye Culp has seen a number of strong challenges in her time in the legislature and there are a number of Democrats - primarily her former opponents - who could make a successful run for this seat, not that it's open.
And we haven't even discussed what it will mean if Tampa mayor Pam Iorio runs for CFO and if Hillsborough County Commissioner Rose Ferlita runs for Tampa mayor.
The next couple of years promise to be interesting.