ORLANDO, Fla. — John Mica is facing his toughest reelection bid in more than two decades, as he’s buffeted by Donald Trump headwinds, a well-funded Democratic challenger and a redrawn voting district.
But at a canvassing kickoff just over two weeks before Election Day, the Florida Republican wasn’t fretting. Instead, he was cracking jokes.
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“I don’t have a campaign manager,” he chuckled during a speech that was supposed to inspire volunteers to get out the vote. Just a few minutes before, he highlighted his “terrible press operation” — a single, part-time press secretary who’s actually a Democrat.
And after noting the more than $3 million worth of attack ads Democrats have aimed his way, Mica laughed it off, saying “we haven’t had that kind of money … nor would we waste that kind of money,” before shifting gears to highlight an unusual strategic advantage: “I do have my secret weapon: my wife, Pat. She’ll be driving the getaway car today!”
The 12-term incumbent may be in denial, but his political future is no laughing matter. After sailing to easy reelection for more than two decades without a serious Democratic challenger, the ex-chairman of the House Transportation Committee has suddenly found his congressional seat in serious jeopardy.
Thanks to a new congressional district, about a quarter of his constituents don’t know him. A good chunk of those new voters are Democrats, turning the 73-year-old conservative’s formerly red district into one evenly split between the two parties for the first time ever.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Washington — who for years were unable to recruit a solid candidate to contest the popular lawmaker known for earmarking favors for his district — have finally found themselves a formidable challenger in Stephanie Murphy. The 38-year-old daughter of …