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Florida - 13th District

Incumbent -- Vern Buchanan (R) ; Running for re-election

Safe Republican
Race Ratings Key
 

Updated Sept. 7, 2010

Buchanan won the 13th District seat by just 369 votes in the 2006 open-seat race, then endured a months-long protest by Democrat Christine Jennings who argued that malfunctions by touch-screen voting machines had cost her the election.

But in 2008, Buchanan won a convincing rematch with Jennings, despite continued news reports questioning Buchanan's ethics as a wealthy businessman, and amid a strongly pro-Democratic trend in national politics.

A leading fundraiser who has contributed millions of his own money to his campaigns, Buchanan is viewed as a potential force in Florida politics and even mulled running for either governor or the U.S. Senate in 2010. And the Democrats are not deep in potential recruits for this Gulf Coast district that -- unlike several GOP-leaning districts in Florida -- stuck with 2008 presidential nominee John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama.

Former Bradenton City Councilman James Golden, a minister, won the August primary and will carry the banner for Democrats on Election Day. But at this point, Buchanan seems to have weathered the worst of it. He's a Republican running for reelection in a Republican district in a Republican year.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

Retirees from the North flock to the 13th District's Gulf Coast cities of Sarasota and Bradenton. Sarasota and Manatee counties make up nearly 90 percent of the district's population; the more affluent tend to live near Sarasota, with middle-class residents more prevalent around Bradenton. Coastal Sarasota County cultivates a refined image with its art museums, theater and symphony performances. Overall, the 13th has highest median age of any district in the nation.

Although most of the district's development is near the coast, with farmland and citrus groves inland, beach communities have experienced a decline in their permanent populations. The populations in Manatee and Sarasota counties overall have grown over the past decade, but there has been a shift inland to make room for vacation rentals near the water. A significant population increase in middle-class Hispanic communities in Sarasota and Manatee accounted for more than a quarter of the counties' overall growth since 2000.

Bradenton (shared with the 11th) is the retail center of Manatee County. The city is partly a Tampa-St. Petersburg suburb and has a more noticeable mix of incomes and ethnic groups than Sarasota. It also is home to the IMG Academies -- residential sports-training and academic facilities for top athletes in several sports.

Economic growth here has stalled as unemployment rates continue to hover above the national average and many commercial and office sites remain vacant. The district's agricultural industry remains strong, however, with large tomato and citrus crops.

The GOP holds a decided party registration advantage in the district, and voters here routinely favor Republicans in statewide races. Despite the strong GOP base, John McCain took only 52 percent of the district's 2008 presidential vote. The area's gulf beaches, barrier islands and state park make environmental policy a bipartisan concern here.

Major industry

Agriculture, tourism, health care, service

cities

North Port, 57,357; Sarasota, 51,917; Bradenton (pt.), 39,752

notable

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, located on the Sarasota Bay, boasts the mansion once owned by John Ringling.

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