TODAY'S THE DAY...AND HERE ARE MY PREDICTIONS
This is based on my review of a number of different sources, talking with neighbours and friends from all areas of the political spectrum, but mainly old fashioned gut feelings. This does NOT reflect who I voted for last week; as a matter of fact, in several instances my picks are not who I voted for.
UNITED STATES SENATOR: My five year old granddaughter, who knows absolutely nothing about politics, could pick this one. Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson should win this race by 20 percent, if not more. Noone except the ultra-conservatives have taken Republican Congresswoman Katherine Harris' effort seriously for awhile, with all the continuing drama she has brought forth. Now after she leaves DC in January, Ms. Harris will have plenty of time to write that tell-all book she's been promising in recent interviews.
GOVERNOR: Although the polls are calling it close, Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist should win this by six or seven percentage points. The one thing that really convinced me of this is the fact that in one recent poll, Crist was shown ahead in every area of the state except the Democratic stronghold in Southeast Florida (Miami-Dade/Broward/Palm Beach counties). That doesn't bode well for Democratic nominee Congressman Jim Davis. Davis is known as an excellent closer, but it just won't happen this time.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: The other Cabinet level races have shown to be quite close recently, and Republican Bill McCollum's recent TV ads have been sharp and to the point in attacking Democrat challenger State Senator Walter G. "Skip" Campbell, Jr.. This is one race, however, where I believe the Democrat will pull out the victory. Give this to Campbell.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER: Another close race, but Democrat Alex Sink should pull this off by three or four percentage points. State Senate President Tom Lee, the GOP challenger, has only been airing attack ads trying to align Ms. Sink with the left wing of the Democratic Party, although this is her first run for public office. Ms. Sink, however, has been focusing much of her advertising on her background as a bank executive. It will work.
COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER SERVICES: This should be a breeze for Republican incumbant Charles Bronson. His Democratic challenger, South Florida attorney Eric Copeland, has not (to my knowledge) done much advertising, and I've not seen any TV ads on his behalf. He simply does not have the name recognition to win, and Bronson should take this by at least 15 points.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES / DISTRICT 5: Republican incumbant Ginny Brown-Waite finally got some strong competition this time around from Registered Nurse John T. Russell, running his second race for this seat. Democrat Russell learned from his mistakes two years ago, and brings a lot of passion to the debate. Unfortunately, the makeup of the district simply makes it quite difficult for any challenger to unseat Ms. Brown-Waite, and she should win handily.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES / DISTRICT 12: Two independents are challenging Republican incumbant Adam Putnam. One of them, Joe Viscusi of Lakeland, has been especially active on the attack and has brought some humour to the campaign with his "Adam Puppet" Howdy Doody prop to show the incumbant's ties to special interests and that he's a rubber stamp for the GOP. The other indy, Ed Bowlin, will pull in less than ten percent. Viscusi should pull in a bigger percentage of votes than any challenger since Putnam has been in office, but the incumbant continues to be quite popular among his constituents, and should win this with 65 percent of the vote.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES / DISTRICT 15 I ain't bothering picking this one. To be honest, I have to plead ignorance here.
FLORIDA STATE SENATE / DISTRICT 10: This is a fairly conservative district, and Republican Ronda Storms is seeking to label her Democratic challenger Stephen Gorham as a liberal (when all else fails...)...although he is rather conservative himself. I'm picking Gorham here, as Ms. Storms history as being a divider during her time on the Hillsborough County Commission should be remembered by many voters.
FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES / DISTRICT 63: Democratic massage therapist James Davis has made a decent effort, but it's his first time running for office, and has suffered some pitfalls along the way. You live and learn. Former Lakeland City Commissioner Seth McKeel should win this with 70 percent of the vote.
FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES / DISTRICT 79: Again, I have to plead ignorance with this race, so I will abstain.
POLK COUNTY COMMISSION / DISTRICT 2: Two men who know the commission well, Republican incumbant Randy Wilkinson and Democrat Robert Connors, who served on the panel before. Wilkinson has strong support among anti-tax conservatives, but he's lost some support because of a couple of embarrasing comments and situations, and his effectiveness on the board is small as he is often the lone voice in opposition on a number of issues on the all-Republican commission. Connors is a small businessman, moderate, who favours stonger controls on growth. Connors should win in a close contest.
POLK COUNTY COMMISSION / DISTRICT 4: Two formidable candidates, former commissioner and Winter Haven mayor Republican Bruce Parker and Democratic challenger Jean Reed have been here before. Parker won handily last time; it will be a lot closer this time around. I'm saying this race is too close to call.