Politics

Florida's Political Chairs: Who Is Running for Senate in 2016? Governor in 2018?

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Senate Race 2014

Democrats

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, U.S. representative and chairwoman of the DNC

DWS's dream role was once probably speaker of the house, but she has accumulated a lot of baggage in her role as DNC chair that could prevent her from attaining that goal. It's no surprise, then, that she is reportedly interested in running for Senate (but only if Rubio doesn't run). A recalibration of ambition perhaps? The problem is that, rightfully or wrongfully, Wasserman-Schultz is viewed as a bit more liberal than the state likes its elected politicians. (And this morning, Politico reports that Wasserman-Schultz may already be throwing in the towel on a Senate run.)

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

The young Murphy became hero of Florida Democrats by pulling a narrow victory in 2012 over controversial Republican incumbent Allen West. The win showed he had appeal in closely contested districts, and he easily won reelection this past November. Don't worry about Murphy being viewed as too liberal, either. The 31-year-old accountant was a former Young Republican who donated $2,300 to Mitt Romney in 2008. Then again, that fact won't play well in a Democratic primary.

Charlie Crist, former governor

Disputed news/rumors broke yesterday that Crist may be interested in a run. He ran for Senate as a Republican in 1998 and an independent in 2010. Why not complete the trifecta? Well, maybe Democrats won't be as desperate this time around.

Other possibilities: Perennial Democratic loser Alex Sink, mayors Bob Buckhorn (Tampa) and Alvin Brown (Jacksonville), and U.S. Reps. Gwen Graham, Alan Grayson, and Ted Deutch.

Republicans

Jeff Atwater, Florida CFO

Atwater is a former president of the Florida Senate and now holds statewide office as CFO. If Rubio decides to run for prez, Atwater is widely seen as the GOP's fallback.

Pam Bondi, Attorney General

Bondi is the most prominent (and controversial) of the members of the cabinet but perhaps the least qualified to run for anything else. Of course, politics are a cynical business. Imagine you're a Republican megadonor or strategist in 2016 and you're worried Hillary Clinton will bring out a strong Democratic-minded female voting bloc. Perhaps you'd think it would be good to have a woman's name on the Republican side of the ticket. Just saying.

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Kyle Munzenrieder