Florida’s 2nd U.S. House District is the largest congressional district in the state, comprising all or parts of 16 different counties in Florida’s rural panhandle. Republicans view the Florida 2nd House seat, occupied by six-term Blue Dog Democrat Allen Boyd, as vulnerable to a turnover in the 2010 general elections. Republican interest groups have funneled $463,020 to the district (some 70 times the $6,474 spent by Democratic interest groups there) in the hopes of helping Young Gun Steve Southerland pick up the seat.
Boyd won his primary by a slim margin, 51 percent to 49 percent, according to Election Advantage, which may foreshadow a general election upset due to creeping Republican influence in the district.
Candidate: Allen Boyd
Political experience: Boyd is the incumbent representative for Florida’s 2nd. He was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1996 and has served six terms. He is leader of the moderate Democratic Blue Dogs, an unofficial designation for Democrats committed to fiscal moderation and centrist legislation. Boyd is a member of the House Budget and Appropriations Committees.
From 1989 until his election to the U.S. Congress, Boyd was a representative to the Florida legislature where he chaired the Florida House Democratic Conservative Caucus.
Professional experience: Boyd is an active fifth-generation farmer. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Florida State University.
Key issues: Boyd is a proponent of the Blue Dog Blueprint for Fiscal Reform, calling for pay-as-you-go budgeting, limiting discretionary spending and a constitutional amendment that mandates a balance budget.
Boyd supports extending tax cuts for all Americans that are set to expire at year’s end, contending that failure to do so could forestall further economic recovery.
To protect consumers, Boyd opposes taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall St., and he supports transparency requirements, bans on predatory lending and deceptive lending practices.
Endorsements: Boyd’s endorsements include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida and Florida AFL-CIO.
Chances of winning the race: Boyd is locked in a tough race with prospects for re-election getting tougher, but he is still within reach as the general election nears. According to Election Projection, the pundits’ predictions are trending away from a Democratic win to a toss-up race, with the exception of Rothenberg who has moved the race to tilt GOP. Larry Sabato, CQ Politics and Cook have reclassified the race to a toss-up from leaning Democratic.
Candidate: Steve Southerland
Political experience: Southerland has never held elective office.
Professional experience: Southerland is co-owner and president of Southerland Family Funeral Homes. He is a founding partner of Genesis Granite and Stone and K & B Land and Timber Co.
Southerland earned an associate’s degree from Jefferson State Junior College and a bachelor’s from Troy State University.
Key issues: Southerland has made jobs, taxes and Social Security key issues in his campaign. On jobs, he believes in the free market and eschews government intervention.
He wants to see dramatic tax reductions. His website does not specify particulars.
With respect to Social Security, Southerland advocates protecting benefits and maintaining the current retirement age and contribution levels.
Endorsements: Southerland’s endorsements include former Gov. Jeb Bush, National Right to Life Committee and Associated Builders and Contractors.
Chances of winning the race: Republicans consider Southerland one of their 52 Young Guns who stand a chance of unseating incumbent Democrats. Southerland is mounting a serious challenge with the majority of the pundits’ projections now placing this race squarely in the toss-up category, a rightward trend from their prior classifications.
Key differences between Allen Boyd and Steve Southerland
On the economy, Boyd favors pay-as-you-go budgeting, limiting discretionary spending and a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget. Southerland advocates federal spending cuts and forcing government to live within its means; he opposes stimulus legislation and other initiatives that provide federal funding for fixing problems. Both candidates oppose taxpayer-funded corporate bailouts.
Boyd wants to extend tax cuts that will otherwise expire at year’s end. Southerland advocates large tax cuts.
Southerland prefers to maintain current Social Security program parameters. In 2004, Boyd co-sponsored a bill to partially privatize social security.
2008 results: Boyd beat Mark Mulligan, 62 percent to 38 percent.
Demographics: According to 2006-2008 U.S. Census survey figures, the 2nd District has a population of 639,295 with a median age of 35.1 and 12 percent of the population over age 65. 73.4 percent of the voters described themselves as white only, 22.3 percent as black only and only 3.3 percent of voters of all races consider themselves Hispanic, about one-quarter the national average. The median family income was slightly lower than the national average while the number of individuals living in poverty significantly exceeded the national average.