FL Redistricting

The Florida Legislature redraws boundaries every 10 years after the Census to comply with federal and state laws as well as equalize representation of government.  The political power of congressional districts has been sought after by both Democrats and Republicans for centuries.  District boundary map change designed for electoral majority is often referred to as “gerrymandering.”  District map changes of any kind alter the political landscape.  

You may remember the 2012 plight of Allen West (R), when redistricting changed the boundaries of Congressional District 22 excluding a large portions of conservative voters.  Congressman West chose to move his second campaign to CD18, a swing district, as opposed to the newly recreated Democratic-leaning CD22.  West was very narrowly defeated in the election by 0.58%, just under the threshold for automatic full recount.  Read more on this story at http://shark-tank.com/2013/04/08/democrats-get-caught-fixing-redistricting-maps-in-florida/ 

The Florida Supreme Court ruled July 9, 2015, against the current district map stating that it violates the state Constitution. The court identified eight Districts with CD5 used as an example specifically moving East to West (previously drawn North to South).  Legislative staff were assigned the task of creating a “base map” consistent with the court’s ruling.  A special session 2015B scheduled for August 10-21 was called to align the congressional map consistent with the court order in the League of Women Voters of Florida v. Detzner case. 

The Florida House passed a new district map on August 18, 2015, that affects most districts with some areas affected more than others.  Legislative challenges were enormous and included many variables such as avoiding city and county splits as much as possible while honoring compactness scoring methods and ensuring the best chance of the Supreme Court’s approval.

The House approved “base map” differs from the August 19th Senate approved map.  Reapportionment Committee Chairman Senator Bill Galvano (R) spoke with Jose Oliva (R) House Redistricting Chairman, regarding the map differences following the Senate session.  Oliva stated “at first glance I think a better map may have possibly been crafted,” Oliva continued “obviously we will need time to digest all of the different changes.”  House representatives are not expected to reconvene before Thursday morning.

Both Senate and House maps presently agree on North Florida, and the results of this change will be significant to the constituents in both CD2 and CD5 where the most change occurs.  

The most democrat leaning Panhandle counties of Gadsden, Leon and Jefferson would move to CD 5 likely causing it to become a swing district while CD2 would become more Republican.

The unknown congressional district lines are challenging to politicians.  In CD2, for instance, Gwen Graham (D) narrowly defeated Steve Southerland (R) of Panama City in the 2014 elections.  The new district map leaves Grahams’ political future in question.  

Mary Thomas, (R) of Tallahassee, announced her candidacy for CD2 in July "I’m a conservative Republican, a Christian, a wife, mother, and a lawyer. If elected, I would be the first Indian-American woman ever elected to Congress. This would truly be a historic event," she said in her opening remarks at the Florida Press Center.  

Dr. Neal Dunn (R) a surgeon in Panama City recently announced his candidacy for CD2.  “Given the importance of this issue, I think it makes sense for the people of North Florida to send someone to Washington who actually understands the complexities of health-care delivery and the importance of the patient-physician relationship,” Dunn said.

By all indications Thomas who would reside in District 5, will campaign in District 2 while her Republican opponent lives within CD2.  

The Florida Supreme Court ordered the map changes be complete within 100 days.  The outcome of the full map remains unknown and leaves many questions with the deadline nearing.  

 Published at LibertyConservative.com August 20, 2015.  The website has since been completely rebuilt.  A PDF of the original article is available upon request.