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Florida - 16th District

Incumbent -- Tom Rooney (R) ; Running for re-election

Safe Republican
Race Ratings Key
 

Updated Sept. 8, 2010

The CQ Politics rating on Rooney's race shifted back to Safe Republican in late March, as local official Chris Craft -- the Democrats' hope for unseating the one-term lawmaker -- dropped his bid for the 16th District seat.

A Democrat did join the race, but that hasn't changed the likely outcome. Businessman Jim Horn defeated Ed Tautiva in the late August primary.

Although the 16th has a Republican lean, Rooney's 2008 victory -- by a wide 20-percentage point margin over Mahoney -- seemed a bit outsized for a district that has seen serious competition between the parties: John McCain received just 52 percent of the district's vote as the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. Mahoney was embroiled in a personal scandal that contributed to his electoral downfall that year, a matter made worse by the fact that his 2006 victory had been abetted by a personal scandal that wrecked the career of his predecessor, Republican Mark Foley.

But Horn is facing a now-entrenched incumbent in an environment that's showing no signs of encouragement for Democratic candidates.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

The 16th sprawls over south-central Florida, connecting wealthy east coast communities with Charlotte Harbor on the west coast. In between, rural Floridians raise cattle and grow citrus fruits and sugar cane, particularly around Lake Okeechobee. The 16th envelops the west side of the lake and also takes in most of St. Lucie County's population near the Atlantic Ocean.

The district's coast-to-coast geography can prove to be more of a curse than a blessing -- it is vulnerable to hurricanes and wildfires, either of which can cause billions of dollars in damage. With the lake, beaches and water needs for farming and ranching, the environment is a significant issue here.

Port St. Lucie is within commuting distance to major area cities, and it attracted some new residents fleeing skyrocketing housing prices during a since-collapsed housing boom in southern Florida. But the district has not been immune from high foreclosure rates.

A decade of population growth in the district has been driven by an influx of Hispanic residents, particularly in St. Lucie County. The district's chunk of the still mostly white county -- including Port St. Lucie and some of Fort Pierce and Lakewood Park -- has seen significant population increases in both Hispanic and black communities. The district's slice of Palm Beach county also has added Hispanic residents since 2000.

Registered Republicans edge out Democrats in the district overall, but the 16th's share of St. Lucie County -- the district's most populous jurisdiction, which accounts for 30 percent of its residents -- has more Democrats than Republicans and many independent voters. The district's portion of Martin County is older and more Republican. John McCain won the district, taking 52 percent of its 2008 presidential vote.

Major Industry

Agriculture, government, health care

Cities

Port St. Lucie (pt.), 164,575; Port Charlotte (unincorporated) (pt.), 45,541; Wellington (pt.), 38,303

notable

LaBelle hosts the Swamp Cabbage Festival at the end of each February.

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