U.S. House Democratic group says Florida District 16 is now part of "offensive battlefield"

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Thursday that Florida’s congressional District 16 covering Manatee County and portions of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties will be a top target in 2020.

The DCCC hyped up Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good’s chances of unseating U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, in a memo released Thursday that says District 16 is now on the organization’s “offensive battlefield” of 39 seats held by Republicans.

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The memo notes that the party’s District 16 candidate in 2018, Siesta Key attorney David Shapiro, did 5.2 percentage points better than the Democrat who ran against Buchanan in 2016.

But the 2016 Democratic candidate, attorney Jan Schneider, raised little money and offered only token opposition.

The DCCC also touted Shapiro’s campaign and helped him financially, but he still lost to Buchanan by nine percentage points.

The memo also points to the fact that District 16 has a high number of college educated voters and is largely suburban as positive signs for Good, a Sarasota attorney. Republicans have struggled to hold onto suburban House seats in recent years.

But the suburban nature of retiree-heavy Southwest Florida is different than suburbs around big cities, which often are more diverse and have a lot of young and middle age professionals. District 16 is much older and whiter than some suburban districts.

The memo doesn’t mention that President Donald Trump carried District 16 by double digits.

Despite the DCCC's optimism, Good is still viewed as an underdog in the race. But she made a big statement early about how competitive she could be by raising $135,426 in the first 24 hours of the campaign.

Good responded to the DCCC memo Thursday with a statement saying “I welcome everyone and anyone who wants to work for the best interest of the people of our community to join us.”

“This campaign is about the people in this district—about healthcare, water quality, and good-paying jobs,” Good said. “We want a representative that listens to and works hard for her constituents. That’s the kind of representative I am and this campaign reflects that work ethic.”

Buchanan campaign adviser Max Goodman noted that the DCCC also hyped up Shapiro and former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, who challenged the congressman in 2012. Both lost.

"We've seen this movie before," Goodman said.