Bruno has been labeled one of the Democrats' best recruits in years, and the state party has called the race its top opportunity to pick up a seat. The district has a slight, 3.5-percentage-point Democratic-registration edge but has flipped between Obama in 2008 and Republican Scott in 2010.
A slew of high-profile House primaries and general-election matchups also are starting to erupt.
Under the old map, 12 state House districts werewholly or partially within Orange County -- all but three held by Republicans.
Under the new map, Orange would have nine House seats, including two that lean Hispanic and two black-leaning seats where Democratic candidates should be favored. Only three extend outside the county into surrounding Lake, Seminole, Brevard or Osceola counties.
On paper, those nine seats would split pretty evenly between parties. Four lean Democratic, two could swing to a candidate from either party, and the three multicounty districts lean Republican.
Those trends have been building for years as the population became more diverse, But Democrats have historically had problems recruiting credible candidates.
"It is a cop-out for Democrats to claim this is all because of redistricting," said John Dowless, a longtime Orlando political consultant working for four Central Florida Republican legislative campaigns this year.
"They had a registration advantage in multiple seats, but they didn't recruit and field good candidates."
One candidate who had refused past overtures to run is Karen Castor Dentel, a schoolteacher in Seminole County who is the daughter of former stateEducation Commissioner Betty Castor and sister of Tampa U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. She said the GOP-controlled Legislature's "parent-trigger" legislation -- which would have made it easier for parents to convert a "failing" public school to a charter school -- prodded her to run this year.
"I hope to be a voice of reason in those debates," Castor Dentel said in a statement.
She's likely to square off with Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, in a Democratic-leaning House District 30, which runs from Maitland to Oviedo.
"I'll be running against not just my opponent but my opponent's family, which has a long history in state politics," said Plakon, who is trying to appeal to voters as someone who reached across the aisle and worked with Democrats on energy policy and helping the homeless.
But operatives expect the business lobby to help Plakon keep pace.
"They're both going to raise a lot of money," Dowless said.
In the new District 49 in eastern Orange, two Hispanic Republicans -- Marco Pena and Rene Plasencia -- are vying to take on either Shayan Elahi or Joe Saunders, a Democratic activist who would be the Legislature's first openly gay House member. The seat is heavily Democratic but also 30 percent Hispanic -- dynamics that could present an opening for the right GOP candidate, strategists said.
The new seats have also encouraged a wave of political aspirants to take on incumbents who may need to introduce themselves to new voters, thanks to redisstricting.
Republican Reps. Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary, Jason Brodeur of Sanford and Steve Precourt of Orlando are all running in GOP-leaning districts but have drawn serious primary challengers.
Meanwhile, Rep. Scott Randolph -- Orlando's senior Democrat -- appears likely to square off with Republican former Rep. Bob Brooks of Winter Park, who served in the Legislature in the 1990s. Randolph's new District 47 is evenly divided at 39-38 percent GOP-Democrat and narrowly went for Democrats Alex Sink and Obama.
Most Popular Stories
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Georgia GOP Preaches Minority Outreach
- Ford's Supplier Diversity Program Turns 35
- GM Joins Nissan to Supply Small Cargo Vehicle
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- Ford Trucks See Boost as Roadshow Reaches Saudi Arabia
- US Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- Kerry Concerned Over Blasphemy Laws, Anti-Semitism
- Soderbergh: Why He Quit Movies