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Chaos and Opportunity Ahead for Florida Democrats | Farm Team

“I am not retiring!” Ros-Lehtinen exclaimed on a phone call with CQ Roll Call. “I work hard at my job. I aim to keep it with the help of God and the voters.

“They have me as the next president of a university. ... Democrats put out that rumor every six months or so,” she added. “They always cast a wide net to see what kind of fish they can get.”

Across the state, Gwen Graham, daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham, has already announced her challenge to GOP Rep. Steve Southerland II in his Tallahassee-based 2nd District.

But elsewhere, Democrats boast solid potential candidates without a specific district. That’s because there’s still some uncertainly as to what the House map could look like in 2014 and beyond.

Democrats charge that the GOP-drawn map violates a state constitutional amendment that forbids lines that “intentionally favors or disfavors a political party or an incumbent.” The litigation is pending in court.

Potential House recruits include: former Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez, Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum and Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler.

Several state lawmakers could also become future congressional hopefuls, including state Sen. Darren Soto and state Reps. Scott Randolph, Jose Javier Rodriguez and Karen Castor Dentel. Dentel is the sister of Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor.

Democrats continue to have high hopes for one failed 2012 candidate, former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings. Demings lost to Republican Rep. Daniel Webster by 4 points.

Republicans scoff, saying that if she could not win in 2012 with President Barack Obama at the top of the ballot, she has no chance in the future. Democrats remain determined, however, if a redrawn House map comes to fruition.

“Val Demings is someone we ultimately believe will be in Congress,” the Florida Democratic official said.

Farm Team is a state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress. The column runs on Thursdays. The next Farm Team will focus on Republicans in Florida.

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