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Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart Retires

The nine-term Republican from South Florida, who had his first electoral scare in years back during the 2008 election, is retiring. Josh Kraushaar has a good preview/rundown, pointing out that the Obama-Biden ticket scored 49 percent of the vote in the district — it was one of the areas where Obama’s surge among Florida Hispanics caught the McCain-Palin campaign off-guard. As Reid Wilson points out, it’s one of the very few open Republican seats that Democrats could target. One simple reason: Obama’s popularity among Hispanic voters has remained stratospherically high even as white independents have edged away. And this district is almost three-quarters Hispanic.

Also worth noting: Democrats have not been buffeted as badly as some expected since the implosion of Martha Coakley and election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). By my count they’ve watched one Democrat retire in a swing seat (Rep. Marion Berry of Arkansas) and one retire in a safe seat (Rep. Diane Watson of California) and lost a big recruitment hope in Delaware (Attorney General Beau Biden). Republicans have responded with strong recruitment, but it’s far from the Democratic run-for-the-exits that some early punditry suggested.

There are rumors that Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) may run for his brother’s open street, a strange possibility with an uncertain political effect — the presidential race was only one point closer in Mario’s FL-24.

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