That monetary disparity and the district's lean mean that, right now,
Buchanan maintains a solid edge. It also doesn't hurt that he still has the support of House leadership. Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) is slated to appear at a Sarasota fundraiser with the Congressman on Saturday. But Buchanan's strong position in the race could quickly evaporate as events and the campaign unfold. This race is worth watching closely — power players in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., certainly are.
Incumbent: Tom Rooney (R)
2nd term (67 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican
In a high-stakes game of musical chairs, Rooney left the coastal 18th district, which included a big majority of his current constituents, for this district that includes just a third of them. Why would he do that? The 17th is a safely Republican seat; the 18th is not.
Rooney, despite having hundreds of thousands of new voters to introduce himself to, should comfortably return to Congress next January.
Incumbent: Allen West (R)
1st term (54 percent)
Rating: Leans Republican
West jumped to this swing district when his 22nd was drawn to be substantially more Democratic. Businessman Patrick Murphy (D), who was running against West in the 22nd, followed him. The new 18th has about a quarter of the current 22nd district's population.
Before Murphy announced his move, West told Roll Call that it would be unwise for the businessman to follow him to the 18th.
"That would be a very dangerous thing," West said. "If he goes back and studies Hannibal, you may not want to follow a very savvy person that just avoided an ambush because obviously they got something that's waiting for you."
The race between the two probably won't be quite so epic. But with both having proved to be good at hyperbole and fundraising, it will be nasty and expensive.
Democrats privately admit that Murphy, 29, isn't the strongest candidate in the world, but he'll raise good money running against West, 51, a tea party superstar, and they think the lean of the district gives him an edge. President Barack Obama would have won the 18th in 2008.
With incumbency and almost $3 million in the bank at the end of 2011 though, West has the early edge in this race.
Open Seat: Connie Mack IV (R) is running for Senate.
Rating: Safe Republican
This is one of the safest GOP districts in the state so the question becomes: Which Republican will represent it? Unaligned GOP strategists said it's far too early to tell who has the edge in what could be a crowded and raucous primary, but Chauncey Goss, the son of former Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), probably has the edge in name identification. Among the GOP field, a highly credible candidate is state Rep. Gary Aubuchon.
Incumbent: Alcee Hastings (D)
10th term (79 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic
Twenty years after Hastings was first elected to Congress, expect to see him win overwhelmingly at the polls once again. There are no opponents yet, but, Hastings told Roll Call, "Someone always shows up on the last day of filing who would like to get trounced."