Cook Political Report delivered welcome news to Florida Democrats. The political handicappers there upgraded the chances of victory for Donna Shalala, Kristen Carlson and Nancy Soderberg.

The biggest lift from the new Cook ratings may come for Carlson. Florida’s 15th Congressional District moves into the toss-up column.

“This open seat has flown under the radar most of the year, partly because Rep. Dennis Ross announced his retirement within hours of Speaker Paul Ryan‘s,” writes David Wassmerman. “But suddenly Republicans are sounding the alarm.”

Carlson holds particular strength in the district thanks to her history as general counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus, where she “ she successfully lobbied the FDA to prosecute out-of-state “orange juice adulterators” who were passing off inferior juice as 100 percent OJ.”

And then there’s spending. Wasserman notes Carlson outspent Republican Ross Spano $600,000 to $219,000 as of the end of September. “GOP strategists complain Spano, regarded as a very conservative legislator, hasn’t raised enough money to define himself in time.”

The new rankings may stop some panic in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. The Democrats once saw the seat as an easy flip after incumbent Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement.

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