There’s some strange happenings afoot in Florida this week and the fallout from a pending court case could impact the careers of several Sunshine State legislators, including Daniel Webster. (R – FL 10) Webster is a favorite among the House Freedom Caucus and a rapidly rising star in the conservative ranks, but he may have some bigger fish to fry if the lines of his home district are suddenly redrawn in a way that will place him in the midst of a heavy Democrat majority. We won’t know for sure until it hits the state supreme court, but the signs are pointing that way. (Yahoo News)
Florida Circuit Judge Terry Lewis on Friday recommended new boundaries for the state’s 27 congressional districts, some of which would make it nearly impossible for U.S. Rep. Dan Webster — one of the hard-line conservatives who pushed John Boehner to resign as speaker and then turned on Boehner’s No. 2, Kevin McCarthy — to win re-election from his current central Florida district.
Lewis’ ruling caps off a three-year legal battle over the state’s political landscape that has led to lawsuits, special sessions and multiple judicial rulings. The Florida Supreme Court will have the final say, but the decision by Lewis is expected to carry weight since he has been involved with the legal battle from the beginning.
In the end Lewis recommended a series of changes that could lead to the ouster of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham from her north Florida seat while resurrecting the political career of former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is expected to run for Congress as a Democrat.
This fight has dragged out for several years and similar to other redistricting battles around the country it’s gotten ugly. The funny part for me is that Florida’s map really doesn’t look all that tortured. Here’s the current layout:
For the most part these seem to be some fairly compact and sequential districts. (Okay… 26 looks a little sketchy.) Daniels’ 11th in particular is drawn in a fairly tidy fashion. Compare this map to some of the real eye openers you see in other areas where the maps were probably subjected to tortures which wouldn’t be allowed at Gitmo. Check out the beauty that Democrats drew for Rep. John Sarbanes’ (D) in Maryland 3.
Still, if the state’s supreme court backs up this idea, several legislators will find themselves in a lot of trouble on election day. Webster would have the option of moving next door in the new map to run in a more friendly area, but a decision like that brings with it the double complications of stepping on another Republican’s toes and needing to win over an almost entirely new constituency. Either way, the more of these stories I read, the more I become convinced that we need to shift to some sort of computer generated system which builds compact, contiguous districts based on nothing more than population density. It would require a change in how we view and deal with retail politics on the state level but at least it would take the partisan wrangling out of the equation.