A rematch could be coming, treating Broward and Palm Beach county voters to a replay of one of the most expensive, hard-fought and nasty campaigns of 2012.
It all depends on former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale. She's considering whether she wants to once again go head-to-head with state Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Boca Raton.
"I haven't made the decision not to run," Bogdanoff said, declining to offer a timetable for when she'll decide. "I'll know it when I know it," she said.
Unlike lesser-known candidates who are already planning their 2014 campaigns and preparing fundraising efforts, Bogdanoff said she doesn't feel time pressure. "I have a lot of experience. I could probably do it in five minutes, set it up."
One reason to hold off on a Senate race decision is last week's resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. Bogdanoff's name quickly turned up on pundits' lists of potential replacements.
"Right now, it's just blog chatter," she said, adding that she'd be open to any overtures from Gov. Rick Scott's office. And, she said, "having somebody who is strong in Broward and Palm Beach counties could be of benefit to the governor."
If Scott doesn't pick her as lieutenant governor, she said the 34th Senate District is winnable despite its political makeup, which is 41 percent Democrats, 32 percent Republicans, and 27 percent no party affiliation/Independent voters.
Sachs recently startedthe 60-day legislative session in Tallahassee and said she isn't thinking about Bogdanoff or other potential challengers.
"The last thing that's on my mind is the election. It's not even in the forecast. It's not on my radar," Sachs said. "I just can't even be bothered with it right now. So it's not even in the weather report."
The 34th Senate District encompasses parts of eastern Palm Beach County, including Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton, and northeast Broward from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. About two-thirds of the population is in Palm Beach County and about one-third in Broward.
Based on the history of the territory, Bogdanoff said, "I should have lost that district by 11 to 14 points. I lost by less than 5." Sachs won with 52.8 percent of the vote to 47.2 percent for Bogdanoff, ending the Republican's 10 years in Tallahassee, first as a state representative, then in the Senate.
They ran against each other after new Senate district boundaries were drawn to reflect population changes determined by the 2010 census.
The race was the top state Senate priority for both Democrats and Republicans. Democratic political consultant Judy Stern estimated the combined spending by the campaigns, political parties and outside groups hit $9 million.
Political analysts think 2014 will be better for Republicans than 2012. The first election after a presidential win usually isn't very good for the president's party. And last year, President Barack Obama had a massive organization in place that attracted voters to the polls to vote for him, and many voted for Democrats all the way down the ticket.
"Even though the district leans Democratic, presumably it would perform better for Republicans at the six-year mark," said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida. "From the Republican point of view, six years into President Obama's time might be pretty good for Republicans."
Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who chaired the Senate Reapportionment Committee, conceded in an interview last month that the district is a tough one for his party. "I think the arithmetic is awfully compelling," Gaetz said.
But, he said, Bogdanoff would be a strong candidate. Gaetz said he raised $4 million to help with her 2012 campaign and campaigned on her behalf in South Florida. "If Ellyn Bogdanoff wanted to run for that Senate seat again, I'd come back down here, I'd put on my walking shoes, and I'd be knocking on doors for her."
Former Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller, D-Cooper City, who defeated Bogdanoff in a 1998 special Senate election after one of the sleaziest campaigns ever run in Broward, said it's tough for candidates to gear up when they're not serving in office.
"When you're an incumbent, you have more ability to raise money, more ability to command news," he said.
Like Gaetz, Geller thinks the partisan makeup of the district favors the Democrats. "Ellyn is clearly a formidable candidate, but I don't see that happening," he said.
But Stern, the Democratic consultant, said she's known and butted heads with Bogdanoff since the 1990s. As a result, she said, "I don't take my eyes off of her."