This is the third in a series discussing the newly drawn US House district boundaries in Florida. Despite Florida voters passing Amendments Five (State) and Six (Federal) in 2010 (Fair Districts), the new map is rife with partisan gerrymandering. Who cares about the wishes of the people when the RPOF has super majorities? Data for Obama/McCain, Sink/Scott, party registration and racial composition is pulled from the Orlando Sentinel.
DailyKos Elections put together a great grid of information here.
US House District 16: This Sarasota based district is 96% of Republican Representative Vern Buchanan‘s old 13th CD. The balance comes from the old District 11 (Castor). There are a number of affluent coastal communities in this 83.5% white district. Obama fared fairly well with 48% of the vote, Sink less so with 44%. McCain took 50.8% while Rick Scott took 51.7%. Moderates have struggled challenging Buchanan in the past, with Christine Jennings coming very close in 2006, less so in 2008 despite very strong fund raising. Registration tilts to the Republicans 43.6% to 32.8%.
Buchanan is seeking re-election here with his incredibly deep pockets. In addition to breaking campaign finance laws, Buchanan is an actual used car salesman (he owns a string of dealerships and had a variety of law suits filed against him on related issues). Democratic State Representative Keith Fitzgerald has announced he will challenge Buchanan. Fitzgerald is a well liked by progressive activists around the state and should make this a race to watch.
US House District 17: This massive chunk of land in the center of south Florida is mostly inland but with a touch of exposure on the Gulf coast. It is a melding of pieces of the old 16th (Rooney-R), 12th (Ross-R) and 14th (Mack-R). Registration is much closer than one might expect, Republicans holding 40.7% and Democrats a healthy 37.7%. Obama performed better than Sink with 43% while both McCain and Scott were just over 55%.
As part of a multi-candidate shuffle, Republican Incumbent Tom Rooney agreed to move in to this district (he lives in the 18th) opening the door for Allen West to take the 18th and Adam Hasner to seek West’s 22nd. At this point opposition appears to be limited to a variety of ‘some guys’.
US House District 18: This south Atlantic coast district is a pretty decent sized chunk of land that is slightly more friendly for Tea Bagger Incumbent Allen West, but not exactly friendly confines. The composition is 65% of Rooney’s old 16th (including his current home), 23% of West’s old 22nd, and a 9% slice of Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings’ 23rd. Republicans lead registration 38.0% to 37.3%. Obama won the district 51%-48% and Rick Scott took it 49%-47%. How this seat plays out in 2012 could have a big impact on Florida’s Electoral Votes and the Presidential Race as a whole.
Incendiary incumbent Rep. Allen West (lives in Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz 20th district) worked out the three player trade that sent a case of Bud Light Premium and an intern to be named later to Rooney in exchange for Rooney moving to the new 17th, West snagging the new 18th and giving Adam Hasner a place to land in the 22nd District in the aftermath of his stillborn US Senate campaign. West was dogged by two aggressive Democratic challengers in the 22nd, one of whom followed him to the 18th, upstart young Democrat Patrick Murphy. Murphy went from ‘some guy’ to serious player in a very short time, with aggressive progressive messaging and nose to the grindstone fund raising. He boasted $1.3 Million raised at years end.
2006 Candidate (against Mark Foley) David Lutrin had already been running for this race prior to the musical chairs, framing himself as a progressive. Lutrin has done nothing thus far to rate consideration beyond ‘some guy’ status with a year end filing of $185 raised. There is no K there. No comma. $185.
Given Allen West’s volatility, a strong and (major) error free campaign by a progressive Democrat could certainly pick this seat up in 2012.
Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder ended the speculation and announced he will challenge West in the Republican Primary.
Tea Party Chairman and Independent Everett Wilkinson has also announced he is considering running against West on the basis that the district should be represented by a local. The intriguing element is that Wilkinson is an Independent which could have significant ramifications in the general election.
US House District 19: Southern Gulf coast including Fort Myers and Naples, composed almost entirely (98%) from Republican Representative Connie Mack IV’s old 14th District. This is among the most Republican districts in the state, with a 47% to 28% in registration and with Rick Scott posting a healthy 61%. Obama fared a bit better than Sink, losing 56.8% to 42.3% to McCain while Sink was ~35% against Scott’s 61%. Racially the seat is nearly 15% Hispanic and 6% Black, it is possible that over the decade those numbers will both grow, putting this seat closer to competition.
Incumbent Republican Connie Mack IV is seeking the Republican nomination to face Bill Nelson for US Senate leaving this seat open and somewhat of a free for all…as long as you are a Republican. Thus far none of the ‘some guys’ have really distinguished themselves, though at least three are in the ballpark of $100,000 raised.
US House District 20: This inland West Palm Beach/Fort Lauderdale seat is serious nothing to see here territory. Democrats lead registration 65% to 14% in this 48.9% Black, 18.5% Hispanic seat. Obama won by a paltry 61% margin – 80% to 19%, Alex Sink only won 78%-20%. This is a majority minority seat, which is how the Republicans justify drawing a district with more nooks and crannies than anything Thomas’s makes. It isn’t as bad as the 5th CD, but it is pretty awful.
Democratic incumbent Representative Alcee Hastings will seek re-election, he will win. At least that is what my magic 8-ball says.
US House District 21: This seat snugs inside the embrace of District 20, another safe Democratic seat with a 48%-26% registration advantage. Both Obama and Sink cleared 60%. This district includes 76% of Democratic Representative Ted Deutch old 19th district and 15% of what was West’s 22nd district.
Deutch is seeking re-election and should coast, regardless of how many ‘some dudes’ jump in.
US House District 22: Completing the ménage à trois with the 20th and 21st, this district hugs the Atlantic coastline of Palm Beach. Democrats hold a 41.5% to 32.6% registration advantage and the Obama 56.7% to 42.5% victory were too tough for Incumbent Republican Allen West, who yet again ran like a coward to more friendly confines. If he keeps this up, he will still be living in the 23rd District represented by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz and running in southern Georgia.
For roughly the past year, former Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy (see District 18) have been working hard, raising money and poking West with sharp sticks, scooping roughly $1.3 Million each in 2011. Murphy has now moved on to the 18th, and Frankel has been joined by Broward Commissioner Kristin Jacobs with rumors of other potential candidates enticed by the open seat.
Republican Adam Hasner, former State House Majority Leader, abandoned his going-nowhere US Senate campaign to announced for this seat immediately after West announced intent to seek the 18th. He may face a primary challenge from Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca who has launched an exploratory committee.
The numbers here are extremely favorable, barring a major catastrophe, whichever Democrat wins the primary should coast to a win in November despite Hasner’s formidable stature.
US House District 23: Miami Beach up through Hollywood with a tail inland at the northern end of the district. Registration is 48.5% for Democrats, 25% Republicans, so this is another ‘nothing to see here’ seat. Obama and Sink again both broke 60%.
Incumbent Democratic Congresswoman and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz holds this seat, and she ain’t going nowhere despite a field of ‘some guys’ lined up to challenge her.
US House District 24: Miami’s majority-minority seat, this seat includes Miami Gardens, North Miami and Opa-Locka. 51.7% Black and 33% Hispanic, this seat holds the distinction of the smallest White population in the state at 12.6%. Obama and Sink both scored in the neighborhood of 85%, incumbent Democratic Representative Frederica Wilson is likely to coast to re-election until she decides to move on, just as Kendrick Meek and Carrie Meek before her.
US House District 25: A large geographic footprint, this district includes a bit of the Everglades, Big Cypress National Preserve and a huge Hispanic population at 71%. Republicans hold the registration lead 40% to 32% and a moderate performance lead with McCain beating Obama 54%-46% and Scott over Sink by a slightly wider 57%-41%.
Incumbent Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart abandoned his old 25th CD seat in 2010 to seek the more friendly seat of his retiring brother Lincoln Diaz-Balart. In a strange twist, he gets the old number back along with 34% of his old seat and 51% of his current district. ‘Some guy’ Democrat Shannon Richard Harvilla of Pompano Beach is challenging Diaz-Balart.
US House District 26: The tip of the state and the Keys, this is one of the most competitive districts in the state. Voter registration runs tight, Republicans at 36.8%, Democrats at 35.7%. McCain edged Obama 49.9% to 49.5%. Scott and Sink was even closer at 49.0% to 48.76%. This seat is majority Hispanic at 69%.
First term incumbent Republican David Rivera wasted no time getting caught up in a variety of scandals. Which isn’t news considering his use of a vehicle to crash his way to victory in the State Legislature years ago…
Democratic State Representative Luis Garcia announced last summer he would challenge Rivera. The combination of Rivera’s anemic fund raising as an incumbent and Garcia’s decent fund raising has eliminate the money gap, but that is certainly subject to change given how low the numbers currently are on both sides.
A variety of ‘some guys’ are either in or rumored to be considering a run.
US House District 27: Miami, South Miami and Coral Gables, this is another very competitive seat. Registration tilts 38.2% to 35.8% in favor of the Republicans and this is also a majority Hispanic seat at 75%. McCain edged Obama 50.9% to 48.5% and Scott beat Sink 50.6% to 47.5%.
Incumbent Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has proven to be a formidable opponent, over performing statewide Republican candidates by 10%.
Possibly the best hope for a progressive victory here is a rematch with 2008 nominee Annette Taddeo. Taddeo’s 2008 campaign under performed significantly, weighed down early by State/National Party rejection, Taddeo didn’t really find her feet until the final weeks of the campaign. She quickly became a favorite of progressive activists around the state. Taddeo could also be a viable candidate in the adjacent 26th District.
Summary of Districts 16-27: In the territory south of the I-4 Corridor, there are a great deal of opportunities for Democratic (Progressive) pick ups in 2012 and/or over the next few cycles. Obama’s South Florida GOTV operation was incredible in 2008, but in far too many cases they were 1-shot voters, ignoring the under card – leaving challengers like Taddeo, Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez well short of Obama’s vote totals in their districts. If OFA 2.0 can work out those kinks, the new map could yield some significant gains in 2012 starting with 18 and 22. 16, 26 and 27 are the next best targets here, with the new maps making all of these seats virtual toss ups IF quality candidates/campaigns emerge.
Currently this block is 7R-4D-1New, with an aggressive effort it is reasonable to see 4 gains for progressive Democrats, moving the block to 4R-8D over the next 2-3 cycles. Long term, as with the I-4 Corridor, minority population growth should diminish the slim Republican margins gerrymandered in to the map.
Statewide we could see as many as 10 more Democratic Members of Congress over the next 2-3 cycles. From 19R-6D to 11R-16D, quite a swing. Will the Florida Democratic Party do the necessary infrastructure building, recruitment and training to get this done? Will they commit to a 67-County strategy putting statewide candidates in a better chance to win? Or will they stick to the 2010 (and previous cycles) strategy of putting all of their eggs in a single statewide candidate’s basket and hope they don’t get smashed?