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Updated Sept. 8, 2010
Posey was well-established as a longtime state lawmaker when he ran in 2008 for the seat left open by the retirement of seven-term Republican Dave Weldon, and he didn't break a heavy sweat in winning by a double-digit percentage margin.
Democrats may see a ray of hope in the fact that Posey's 53 percent was not overwhelming, even though he outspent his unheralded Democratic opponent by a ratio of more than 8-to-1. Also, the 15th District gave 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain a very modest 3 percentage-point edge over Democrat Barack Obama, just four years after its voters favored President George W. Bush by 14 points.
Nonetheless, the Democrats would need an exceptionally strong campaign from Shannon Roberts, a longtime NASA manager, to offset the natural tendencies of the district and the national political mood.
District Profile from Politics in America
Most residents of the 15th live along the Atlantic Coast in Brevard and Indian River counties between Merritt Island and Vero Beach. In addition to all of Indian River and three-fourths of Brevard, the 15th contains regional agricultural hubs in inland Osceola County and in its slice of Polk County. Melbourne and Palm Bay are on the Treasure Coast along the district's central shore. A growing Hispanic population and a movement of residents from the coast to inland Brevard are changing the district's communities.
The Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Patrick Air Force Base and the Kennedy Space Center (located in the neighboring 24th) have long been the Space Coast's economic engines. NASA's presence has provided high-paying jobs, lucrative federal contracts and tourist attractions, but much of the highly skilled aerospace workforce may leave following the 2011 end of the nation's space shuttle program. Local officials hope to lure new employers to take advantage of the aviation, technology, robotics and energy sectors that have built up around the region.
Even beyond the throngs of people who have come to the area for shuttle take-offs, tourism remains a key pillar of the economy. Port Canaveral launches cargo and cruise ships, and beach draws include prime Atlantic surfing spot Sebastian Inlet and Disney's Vero Beach Resort. Kissimmee depends on Orlando's rebounding tourism industry.
Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the 15th's portions of Osceola and Polk, but the GOP has a slight registration edge overall here. Voters have favored GOP presidential candidates since 1992, but John McCain won only 51 percent of the district's 2008 presidential vote.
Technology, defense, tourism, agriculture
Patrick Air Force Base, 1,824 military, 2,212 civilian (2010)
Palm Bay, 103,190; Melbourne, 76,068; Kissimmee, 59,682
An early name of Yeehaw Junction, at a crossroads of what is now the Florida turnpike, was "Jackass Crossing."
|2010||general||Bill Posey (R)||157,079||64.7%|
|Shannon Roberts (D)||85,595||35.3%|
|2008||general||Bill Posey (R)||192,151||53.1%|
|Stephen Blythe (D)||151,951||42%|
|Frank Zilaitis (X)||14,274||3.9%|
|Trevor Lowing (X)||3,495||1%|
|2006||general||Dave Weldon (R)||125,965||56.3%|
|Bob Bowman (D)||97,834||43.7%|
|2004||general||Dave Weldon (R)||210,388||65.4%|
|Simon Pristoop (D)||111,538||34.6%|
|2002||general||Dave Weldon (R)||146,414||63.2%|
|Jim Tso (D)||85,433||36.8%|
|Donald Gibbens (Write-In)||10|
|2008||Barack Obama: 48%||John McCain: 51%|
|2004||John Kerry: 43%||George W. Bush: 57%|
|2000||Al Gore: 45%||George W. Bush: 52%|