Tag Archives: Rep. Kathy Castor

Florida Lines Finally Approved

Dec. 4, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court finally enacted a congressional redistricting plan on Tuesday. The process began in early July when the high court struck down eight of the state’s congressional districts and now culminates in approving a lower court judge’s statewide plan that changes 22 of the Sunshine State’s 27 CDs.

Currently, the delegation stands at 17R-10D. Democrats are poised for gains, but the actual increase may be smaller than intended. Two South Florida seats, those of Republicans Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), a freshman, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), a 14-term veteran and former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, appear designed to elect Democrats but these districts have a history of bucking voting trends at the congressional level. Though Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s 27th CD voted 53 percent for President Obama in 2012, the congresswoman didn’t even draw an opponent in 2014 and notched a 60-37 percent win when last contested.

There is little doubt that Democrats will convert Districts 10 and 13, while Republicans will take back District 2, a seat they lost in the 2014 election.

The Orlando-anchored 10th District becomes 15 points more Democratic on the Obama scale and switches 13 points when looking at gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist’s (D) performance in his 2014 statewide losing effort. Incumbent Rep. Dan Webster (R) can’t win this seat, but he may survive by moving into neighboring District 11, an open CD because Rep. Rich Nugent (R) is not seeking re-election. The 11th gains a significant chunk of Lake County from Webster’s current 10th, meaning the congressman will have a foothold in the new district. If he can win nomination, FL-11’s Republican history will allow him to continue his congressional career.

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Florida Rep. Nugent to Retire

Nov. 4, 2015 — Three-term Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL-11), the former Hernando County Sheriff, surprisingly announced Monday that he will not seek re-election next year, making this the 26th open seat for the 2016 election cycle.

Nugent cited the long absences from his family and a lesser desire to serve as chief reasons for retiring after a short stint in the House. According to his announcement release the congressman stated, “we care deeply about shrinking the size and scope of government; we care deeply about restoring America’s place in the world. We’ll get somebody new with real fire in the belly who shares our beliefs and is ready to give it a shot in Washington.”

Nugent’s tenure in office was not without controversy. A former member of the House Rules Committee, the congressman was relieved of his post when he voted for fellow Florida Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL-10) in the early 2015 Speaker’s election. In response, then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) quickly removed both men as members of the partisan rules body.

His first election to the House raised eyebrows as well. When Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL-5) retired in 2010, she did so just as the filing deadline expired, thereby giving then-Sheriff Nugent the only inside track to the seat. He was the one potential major candidate who was given pre-announcement notice of the impending vacancy, and took full advantage of the lack of competition for the open House seat.

The Central Florida 11th District stretches from Ocala and The Villages communities in the northeast, west to the Gulf of Mexico, and then south as far as Spring Hill. The relatively compact seat is safely Republican and did not experience much change as it relates to the proposed congressional re-districting map that currently sits before the sate Supreme Court.

It is in this area that Nugent may have tipped his hand too early. The proposed redistricting plan makes only cosmetic changes to his CD and leaves it intact as a core Republican seat. But, the plan is not yet final, and seeing that they have another open seat to work with, it is conceivable the court could still change the boundaries to provide a better geographic flow and benefit the Democrats. The seat sits between Rep. Corinne Brown’s (D-FL-5) Jacksonville-Gainesville-Sanford-Orlando district and representatives David Jolly (R-FL-13) and Kathy Castor’s (D-FL-14) CDs, both in the Tampa Bay region. All of these districts were declared illegal, and the Nugent seat is certainly close enough to all of them to make further late changes plausible.

FL-11 now becomes the fifth open seat just in the Sunshine State. Nugent joins representatives Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), Alan Grayson (D-FL-9), David Jolly (R-FL-13), and Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) as members who will not be returning to Congress as House members after the next election. DeSantis, Grayson and Murphy are all running for the Senate.

It is also possible that Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL-2), who the redistricting plan displaced from her 2nd District in the northern Florida Panhandle, will also join the list of House members not seeking re-election. She may enter the Senate race, challenge fellow Democratic Rep. Corinne Brown for the newly constituted 5th District that now will encompass the city of Tallahassee, which is Graham’s political base, or skip an election and run for a statewide post in 2018. The congresswoman says she will decide her 2016 political plans once the new congressional lines become final.

Florida Redistricting Lines
Almost Complete

Oct. 13, 2015 — The Republican troubles in the US House look to be getting worse as the long-awaited Florida redistricting process is at last taking shape. The state Supreme Court struck down portions of the map back in early July and, with the state legislature not passing new legislation in their abbreviated special session, the high court returned the plan to Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to serve as the redistricting special master. The original lawsuit was filed in Lewis’ court.

On Friday, Judge Lewis released his map, choosing one of the Democratic plaintiffs’ submissions, saying this plan best fulfills the Supreme Court’s sated objectives. The new map now goes to the Supreme Court for final approval.

The partisan numbers figure to favor Democrats by one to as many as four seats. Most likely, assuming no additional retirements among incumbents, the Democrats will probably gain one or two seats. There is a scenario, however, where Republicans could still break even. The Florida delegation splits 17R-10D under the current map.

The members likely to lose under the new configuration are representatives Gwen Graham (D-FL-2) and Dan Webster (R-FL-10) the latter of whom, ironically, is currently a candidate for House Speaker. Rep. David Jolly’s 13th District will also go Democratic, likely to former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) who said he would run if his St. Petersburg home was drawn into the district.

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First Florida Map

Aug. 10, 2015 — Prior to the opening of the special state legislative session convened to re-draw the Florida congressional map, Sunshine State legislative leaders released their initial plan late last week. It is likely that his map will not pass in its current form, but it does provide a good starting point.

The plan radically changes four districts and makes several more competitive, but allows the GOP a chance at maintaining its 17-10 delegation majority.

Three districts are designed to change hands. What the state Supreme Court isolated as the focal point for declaring eight of the 27 districts as legally non-conforming, Tampa Bay’s District 13 — Rep. David Jolly (R) — would become decidedly more Democratic according to the 2012 presidential election result. The addition of St. Petersburg to this seat, as directed by the court, represents a Democratic voter increase of 9.2 percent based upon the previous configuration. With incumbent Jolly now in the Senate race, FL-13 becomes a prime conversion opportunity for Democrats most likely in the person of former Gov. Charlie Crist.

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Florida Musical Chairs Begin

July 22, 2015 — As predicted, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) announced his intention to run for Florida’s open Senate seat next year, joining what is becoming a crowded Republican field that may expand even further.

Rep. Jolly was originally elected to his marginal Pinellas County seat in an early 2014 special election after the venerable 21-term Rep. Bill Young (R) passed away. Jolly was an upset winner in the special, defeating former state CFO Alex Sink, who had lost a one-point race for governor in the previous statewide cycle.

Jolly is jumping into the Senate campaign largely because the state Supreme Court just recently declared his district and seven others illegal in accordance with the state’s voter-adopted redistricting initiative. Since the court objects to the Tampa-anchored 14th District jumping across the bridge to annex Democratic St. Petersburg, it is a virtual certainty that the politically marginal 13th will become less Republican. Therefore, Rep. Jolly’s chances of winning re-election in such a newly configured seat all of a sudden become poor.
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Crist for Congress?

July 14, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court barely had time to announce their decision declaring eight of the state’s congressional districts illegal before the political musical chairs began vibrating.

On Thursday, the high court declared that Rep. David Jolly’s (R) Pinellas County seat, among others, is in violation of the state’s 2010 voter-passed redistricting initiative, which put limits on partisan map drawing. Former governor, Charlie Crist, a Pinellas County resident who has either lost races or was headed for defeat in both the Republican and Democratic parties, and even as an Independent, is reportedly considering running for Congress should the Tampa Bay re-draw favor the Dems. Rep. Kathy Castor’s (D-Tampa) 14th District, that encompasses the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, was also invalidated.

The court returned the map to the legislature with orders to re-construct eight districts from around the state, four Republican-held seats and four Democratic. The number of additional tangentially affected districts could mean that virtually the entire state will be redrawn within the next 100 days. Since the map is headed back to the legislature, majority Republicans will again have the redistricting pen, but the new final product must be submitted to the judiciary for approval. The new plan will take effect for the 2016 elections.
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