Bogdanoff, Sachs battle over ‘No. 14’
While the lone incumbent-versus-incumbent state Senate race this fall is seen as unlikely to swing the balance of power — no one expects Republicans to lose their grip on the chamber — Democrats still see something at stake in District 34.
If Democrats can hold their 12 current seats in the 40-member chamber and Florida Rep. Darren Soto can win his bid for a district in Central Florida drawn to favor Latinos, then a win in the coastal district running from Boynton Beach to Fort Lauderdale would deprive Republicans of a two-thirds supermajority.
That potentially would give the minority party more of a say in efforts by the GOP to alter the rules of the chamber or attempts to override any vetoes by Gov. Rick Scott.
"It's No. 14," said Sen. Maria Sachs (D-Boca Raton) in an interview last week at her campaign headquarters in Palm Beach County.
Sachs said it would be "dangerous with a capital 'd'" to allow the majority party to hold onto authority she suggested would be almost unfettered if state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale), wins the seat.
"It's not about Maria Sachs or Ellyn Bogdanoff," she said. "It's about the power and the arrogance of power and the corruption of power."
With that in mind, Democrats are pouring what resources they have into the district. Asked Monday how important the race is, incoming Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith mentioned President Barack Obama's remarks earlier in the day at a Delray Beach rally.
"He opened up by thanking and encouraging Maria Sachs," Smith said — a rare step in a legislative race.
While the district no doubt favors Democrats — it went for former state CFO Alex Sink in the 2010 gubernatorial election by 10 points and for Obama by nearly 14 points in 2008 — Democrats concede that Bogdanoff can't be counted out. She is a veteran of successful campaigns in Democratic-leaning districts.
"Senator Bogdanoff has never had an easy race in her entire political career," said incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, whose Republican caucus has become heavily involved in the expensive fight.
But with an eye on the district's demographics, Sachs and her supporters have zeroed in on Bogdanoff's record and her party ties.
"I think she is a well-intentioned person who's been doing the work, carrying the water for Republican leadership in North Florida, and those policies which she has advocated for them reflect their values system and not those of South Florida," Sachs said.
Bogdanoff brushes off that suggestion, and adds that getting rid of what could be the area's lone Republican voice in the Senate could harm even Democratic lawmakers in Broward and Palm Beach counties, who would lose a bridge to GOP leadership.