By David Sutta

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — This year’s election could mean big changes for Washington DC. Republicans are in a fight to keep control of Congress but many indicators are suggesting Democrats could end up taking the House.

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Three seats in South Florida could play a role in that which is why many political insiders are watching our Congressional races very closely.

In February, Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen spoke bluntly about the uphill battle Republicans face this year.

“When you look at the future of the Republican Party, I think that we would be foolish to not see that we’re heading into trouble,” she told CBS’s Face The Nation.

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The veteran Congresswoman has held her seat for District 27 in the House for nearly 30 years.  She was considered a shoe-in for re-election.  Yet she joined more than two dozen Republicans leaving Congress this year.  In the waiting for their jobs are a slew of candidates.  Ros-Lehtinen’s seat has nine Republicans and five Democrats in the running.

University of Miami Political Science professor Greg Koger believes without a doubt District 27 is likely up for grabs.

“It was the Republican House seat that Donald Trump lost by the largest margin in 2016.  So for the Democrats, they have always seen it as their best opportunity to flip a seat and to put a Democrat in a Republican house seat,” he said.

Koger believes Ros-Lehtinen’s seat could be one of many to be flipped.

“Mid-term elections are usually a referendum on the majority party.  In this case, the majority party in the House and the Senate is Republicans and they also control the White House.  And so in mid-term elections, the President’s party usually loses seats.”

History shows the Presidents party losing mid-terms repeatedly.  The most recent midterms no exception.

In 2010, Republicans, with the help of Tea Party voters, took the House.  In the 2014 midterm, Republicans took the Senate.

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“One of the reasons that the President’s party loses seats in mid-term elections is that supporters of the out party are highly motivated to turn out and try to bring about some change in our government.  So Democrats, Independents, anyone who is dissatisfied with the Republican Party, dissatisfied with President Trump, I think they are much more likely than usual to want to turn out and vote,” said Koger.

It remains to be seen whether Republicans will be equally as motivated to vote.

The trend could spell trouble for the 26th District race as well, where Republican staff and dollars have been pouring in to try to re-elect Carlos Curbelo.

“They have been sending paid staffers down to his district to organize voters so they’ve always identified it as a seat that was a really high priority for them to hold onto.  In contrast, Ileana’s Ros-Lehtinen’s, Florida’s 27th District, to my knowledge they have made no effort to try to hold onto that district.  They’ve kinda given up on the seat already it would seem,” Koger said.

Also being challenged is veteran politician Mario Diaz Balart, who has been re-elected seven times since 2002, often running unopposed.

“There are a lot of seats that the Democrats have in play.  Somewhere between 90 to 100 Republican-held seats, they have a legitimate challenge for and they are trying to finance these people.  They need to take about 20-25 seats.  They could get a narrow majority.  They could get a landslide victory.  We don’t know how that will play out.  But the odds are that they will take the House,” Koger said.

For voters trying to navigate whom to vote for, especially in the 27th District with so many options, Koger says to look at the money.

“For me, the first cut is actually to look at FEC filings and see which candidates have been raising money.  Because one of the first ways to identify candidates who have potential to win is to see if they have the ability to raise money.  Candidates who have got a $1000 are not going to be able to really compete in either the primary or the general election,” said Koger.

After looking at the money, Koger says to look at the candidates’ ability to communicate and get endorsements from organizations.

Ironically, a majority of the voters in South Florida are neither Republican nor Democrat.  They are Independent so they will not get an opportunity to pick their choice for Congress until November’s mid-term.

 

 

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