Democrats Likely to Bank Trio of GOP House Seats

Nathan L. Gonzales April 18, 2016 · 11:59 AM EDT

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has declined to run in Florida’s 13th District, closing the book on a Republican scenario to hold the seat. Baker's decision makes it all but certain that a third GOP-held district will go to Democrats this cycle.

The court-mandated redrawing of Florida’s congressional map changed the 13th District from a competitive district to a Democratic-leaning seat that President Barack Obama won with 55 percent of the vote in 2012.

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is running for the 13th District as a Democrat. This after a failed run for Senate as a Republican and then Independent in 2010, and an unsuccessful run for governor as a Democrat in 2014. Crist is the favorite in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary against former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn.

Current seat holder GOP Rep. David Jolly decided not to seek re-election, even before the new map was finalized, and is running for Republican Marco Rubio’s open Senate seat instead.

Some GOP strategists believed Baker’s bipartisan appeal would keep the seat in play (and Crist has lost races he was supposed to win before). But without Baker, Republicans won’t be spending money trying to keep this seat in the fall.

We’re changing our rating from Lean Democratic to Safe for Democrats.

The developments are bittersweet for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which spent over $2 million on the high-profile special election just two years ago to hold the seat after GOP Rep. C.W. Bill Young died.

Democrats are also likely to pick up Florida’s 10th District, which Obama won with 61 percent in 2012. The seat is open after GOP Rep. Daniel Webster chose to run for re-election in retiring-Rep. Rich Nugent’s 11th District and Democrats have a competitive primary, which will essentially choose the next member. That seat is rated Safe for Democrats.

In Virginia, Democrats are likely to pick up the re-drawn 4th District, where Obama’s 2012 performance was 60 percent (up from 48 percent) under the new lines approved earlier this year. The incumbent, GOP Rep. J. Randy Forbes is running for re-election in the 2nd District, where Republican Scott Rigell is retiring at the end of his term. The seat is also rated Safe for Democrats.

While Democrats are poised to take over this trio of seats, they are also likely to lose Florida’s redrawn 2nd District, where Obama received just 33 percent in 2012. That seat is rated Republican Favored.

For now, House Democrats will likely net two seats out of the 30 they need for a majority.