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10 Races to Watch in 2016: Florida’s 2nd District

Graham is an incoming freshman from Florida. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Graham is an incoming freshman from Florida. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep.-elect Gwen Graham, with her famous family name and nimble campaign operation , was one of only two Democrats to oust a Republican incumbent in 2014.  

But in 2016, Graham will be a top target for Republicans — and that’s why her re-election is a race to watch this cycle.  Florida’s 2nd District leans Republican, making it a prime pickup opportunity for the GOP. Graham ran as a moderate Democrat, but will she still be able to cast herself as middle-of-the-road after two years in the starkly divided and partisan House? Republicans are counting on being able to cast her as someone who went to Washington and showed her true liberal bias.  

What’s more, House Republicans chalked up losing the seat in 2014 to outgoing GOP Rep. Steve Southerland II running an ineffective campaign. But Florida operatives say there are a number of possible GOP contenders for the seat, including state Reps. Marti Coley and Matt Gaetz.  

But there’s also a big question as to whether the district will keep its current form in 2016. The Florida Supreme Court is expected to rule on a redistricting lawsuit next year that could potentially change the boundaries of several Sunshine State districts. If the court or local lawmakers redraw the map, it’s possible Graham could lose part of Democrat-friendly Tallahassee to another district.  

Finally, Democrats have touted Graham as a potential Senate candidate — especially if Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., seeks the presidency instead of re-election. Graham indicated she will seek re-election to the House, but an open-seat Senate race could prove tempting.  

With her last name — Graham is the daughter of popular former Gov. Bob Graham — she would have the statewide name recognition and fundraising prowess
to be a serious contender.
Editor’s Note: Over two weeks, Roll Call will unveil its Top 10 Races to Watch for 2016. The final edition will run on Jan. 2, with the full list. In no specific order, additional races to watch in 2016 include Senate contests in Pennsylvania and
and the race for New York’s 11th District.


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