Take A Look At Florida's Crowded U.S. Senate Race

Apr 29, 2016

The race for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat is crowded with contenders from both parties. Here's a look at some of the better-known candidates.

Credit Bjoertvedt via Wikimedia Commons

There are 27 candidates vying for a spot in the U.S. Senate. With an August 30th primary looming, there is still no clear frontrunner. Here’s a look at some of the big names in the race.

“If you get sick America, the Republican healthcare plan is this: Die Quickly! That’s right!" he said.

That’s Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, addressing Congress in 2008. This Senate candidate recently said the upside of climate change is that Rush Limbaugh’s Palm Beach home will be destroyed by rising sea levels. He’s known for his incendiary statements, but Grayson also considers himself a strong progressive, with an eye towards inequality. But he’s plagued by an ongoing ethics investigation into his involvement in an offshore hedge fund. Grayson’s Democratic rival is Congressman Patrick Murphy of Jupiter. He boasts the endorsement of Joe Biden and Barack Obama, and presents himself as clean-cut, in contrast to his opponent.

“If you ask me, that’s no way to get something done with people. By definition in a divided government you going to have to find some common ground with people, whether they’re in your own party or the other party. Either way, you gotta find the common ground and move the ball forward,” Murphy said.

Meanwhile, the Republican ticket is packed with contenders, but no clear frontrunner. Congressman David Jolly of Indian Shores recently broke with party leadership, saying climate change is real, and Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland deserves a vote. Jolly is gaining support for his STOP Act, to limit fundraising for members of Congress.

“Let’s get members of Congress off the phones, shaking down the American people for money. That’s one way to do it. And then let’s begin to address how do we get a better campaign finance system than we have now?” he said.

Also in the running is Florida’s Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera. The Miami Republican has experience in state government, first in the Legislature, and now as the governor’s second in command.

“We’ve cut permitting time in half. We’ve reduced regulations, reduced licensing waits. And it’s that that created the business environment that allowed this state to add over 1,035,000 jobs since the recession,” he said.

With two years at the governor’s side, Lopez-Cantera can closely align his platform with Scott’s policies. Still, his boss is plagued with low approval ratings, and has been called one of the least popular governors in the nation.

In a party where many see terrorism as the greatest threat to the country, two contenders say they’re best qualified to combat ISIS. Congressman Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra is former military prosecutor with an Ivy League education. With a recent “Defeat the Jihad” talking tour under his belt, he’s building a campaign on the threat of terror.

“We brought down communism, which was a very, very pernicious, totalitarian ideology. I think what makes radical Islam perhaps more dangerous is that it’s rooted in a suicidal view of humanity,” DeSantis said.

Meanwhile former CIA officer, sniper and millionaire Todd Wilcox casts himself as political outsider. Last fall, he told a group of Florida Republicans he sees America in decline, likening the country’s trajectory to the fall of Rome.

“There’s a growing storm on the horizon that threatens our constitutional republic that nobody wants to talk about. We are moving to closer and closer to a post-constitutional era. This is more dangerous than the growing ISIS threat, it’s more dangerous than the growing trend of isolationist foreign policy,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox recently scooped up the endorsement of Allan Cors, President of the National Rifle Association.

The last candidate to enter the race is Sarasota developer Carlos Beruff. He is the child of Cuban refugees, and says he’s living the American Dream.

“I won the lottery because my mother on March 15, 1957 was the only woman conspirator on the failed attack on the presidential palace on Havana, Cuba,” Beruff said.

Some have likened him to Donald Trump for his statements on Middle-Eastern immigrants and refugees.

The presidential race continues to outshine the Senate contest. But political scientists say Florida voters could play a key role in handing the chamber to the Democrats, or maintaining a Republican majority. The primary is August 30th.