Editor’s Note – I did a 23 minute video about the redistricting, but YouTube told me it was too long after they told me I could do videos over 15 minutes. For some reason, my movie maker won’t split the video, so I will just do a write up on this.
Going into the 2012 election season we have, of course, new districts. With those new districts, there needs to be new strategies drawn, new contacts to be made and a new approach on how to campaign over this cramped eight month span. Redistricting years are always the hardest years to cope with.
So what about Florida? There have been many changes. But when looking at the districts more carefully, there has been less changes than one might think. Overall, the Republicans should continued to hold a majority of Congressional seats, but they have possibly pitted Republicans against each other, which might make for some interesting GOP primaries. So, let’s look at the districts.
1st Congressional District – Jeff Miller’s district is essentially the same with very few changes. The only real addition is adding Fort Walton Beach to the district, making it even more conservative. Therefore, the Republicans have this one in the bag. Verdict: Safe Republican.
2nd Congressional District – For years, Allen Boyd was able to win this district for the Democrats without the help of the African American voters in Tallahassee (which found themselves in Andre Crenshaw’s district). Now these Democratic voters have been added to the new 2nd Congressional District, making it much more progressive. In addition to the new Leon County voters, Suwanee, Dixie and Lafayette County voters have been taken out of the district. True, these are only a few voters that have been taken out, but now the Black and Hispanic voters make up 30% of the district, which should give someone like Al Lawson an advantage. It seems as if the new make up will make this district more Democratic, and the Democrats should win. But Republicans in Florida are really good in districts where Democrats “should win.” Democrats shouldn’t take this seat lightly and put what they can to recapture it. Verdict : Slightly Democratic.
3rd Congressional District – The 3rd isn’t technically a “new” district, but it can be looked at as such. It takes parts of the old 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Districts and puts them into one. There might be a lot of registered Democrats in this area, but they surely will vote Republican.
Even so, the Republicans might be dealing with their first problem…who should run here? Conventional wisdom says that Cliff Stearns would be the best candidate to capture this district, as all the other candidates from the other Congressional Districts live in other places. True, Stearns is from Ocala, but only a small part of Ocala northern outskirts is in this district. He could also run in the 11th District (which we will get to later), which includes all of Ocala, but he would be running against Rich Nugent. Therefore, it will be interesting to see what Steans does. The smart choice is to run in the 3rd. Verdict: Safe Republican
4th Congressional District – This is Ander Crenshaw’s district. It is now easier for him the deal with and is located totally within the Jacksonville media market. All that has been cut out is the western part of the district, now in the 3rd Congressional District. Crenshaw wins easily. Verdict: Safe Republican.
5th Congressional District – Ah, the dreaded 5th (or the 3rd as it has been known for the last 20 years). My beef with this district is that it takes away Democratic voters from other districts and sticks them into one district. And for the Democrats who complain about gerrymandering, this was a pure gerrymander move that we really haven’t fought. Again, we gain one solid Democratic seat, but lose possibly being competitive in three to five other seats. The only real difference between this seat now and last time around is not much really, except less land around the Ocala National Forest and more around northwest Orange County. Verdict: Safe Democratic
6th Congressional District – This district is mostly the northern part of John Mica’s old district. The only problem for Mica is that he doesn’t live in this new district. True, one does not have to live in the district in order to represent it (only the state), but how will this be looked at by voters in the district. When Mica first ran for Congress, in the 7th Congressional District, he actually lived in the 8th Congressional District, held by Bill McCollum, and visa versa. But this district pushes Mica out of both Orange and Seminole Counties, where voters know him most.
Looking at that, was this the first move to take out a Washington establishment Republican and replace him with a Tallahassee favorite in Sandy Adams? As of right now, if one were to look geographically, these two Members of Congress could run against each other in the 7th Congressional District. But Mica has the same problem as Stearns would have in the 3rd District. Yes, it will mostly be a Republican district, but could someone else be the nominee? It should be interesting to see where Mica lands. And if he does run in the 6th, how the reaction of the voters will be?
While this is a strong Republican seat, that can change over the next 10 years. Keep an eye on Flagler County, as, oddly, it has been trending Democratic as of late. Verdict: Somewhat Republican
7th Congressional District – This district includes most of the conservative neighborhoods of Seminole and Orange Counties. Even with that being said, both of these counties are trending Democratic. Orange has pretty much become a safer Democratic county, while Seminole is also starting to show a trend. True, it won’t do a massive flip like Orange, but it could be a battleground for Central Florida’s moderate voters. Therefore, if the Democrats want to start making some inroads here, moderates would be the key to victory.
But as of right now, it is still a Republican district. That could change over time, but it won’t this election cycle. Verdict: Somewhat Republican.
8th Congressional District – This is most of the old 15th Congressional District. Osceola County has been taken out of it and Titusville and Mims has been added to it. This makes the district much more conservative than it was previously. This has become a purely Brevard, Indian River and East Orange County district, which will suit Bill Posey just fine. Verdict: Safe Republican.
9th Congressional District (NEW) – We have finally come to our first new Congressional district. This district, at first glance, looks like a decent Democratic district. Even with that said, Republicans in Central Florida have been able to do quite well in what are considered “Democratic districts”. Therefore, whatever Democrat decides to run in this district, they need to make sure they are on their toes and able to take on the GOP. If they slip, are asleep at the wheel or any possible combination of laziness, the GOP will take a seat that they have already written off.
This district is 44% Hispanic, and we could possibly see a non-Cuban Hispanic representing Florida. The district essentially starts in Azalea Park and works its way along Orange Blossom Trail and SR 434 and ends up in Poinciana. Along with 13% of the district being African American, this is yet another minority-majority district. But remember, John Quinones won in House District 49, which is very similar to this district, just smaller. Could “John Q” make a run for this seat and possibly steal it from the Democrats? Verdict: Somewhat Democratic
10th Congressional District – This is what is left of the 8th Congressional District. What was a seat that, 20 years ago, included most of Orange County now only includes the Republican area of the county, which includes Windermere and Winter Garden. In addition, most of Lake County is now in this district. While this district might look more conservative, west Orange County voters in the Dr. Phillips area are trending Democratic, making this less safe that expected. True, Webster should win this seat time after time, but just like 2008, the right candidate could take it away. Verdict: Somewhat Republican
(Side note at this point: I have no idea where both Alan Grayson and Val Demmings will run. Demmings would be very smart to run in the 5th, but where would Grayson fit in? Who knows! I just don’t see the 10th electing him and the 9th is more for a Hispanic candidate)
11th Congressional District – As was mentioned earlier, this is where we could possibly see a Nugent vs. Stearns match up. This district chops off Nugent’s Lake County section and adds Ocala into the mix. Looking at it, I come to the conclusion that this happened to give Webster a safer seat, even if it means a loss of voters for Nugent. Still, even with that loss, this will be a highly Republican district.
If the Nugent vs. Stearns match up does happen, then we might see a vote split geographically, as Stearns would win Ocala and Nugent the west coast counties of Hernando and Citrus. If the match up does not happen, then it should be smooth sailing to the general, even though there are a few other GOP candidates in the mix. Verdict: Safe Republican.
12th Congressional District – While this seat might look different, it should vote the same. Last time around, this district went from the west coast of Pasco County and then stuck its arms down into Pinellas and Hillsborough. Now the district is purely Pasco and northern Pinellas County. Gus Bilirakis won it before, and there is no reason to think he wouldn’t win it again. But, if for some reason, this seat ever opens up, watch out, as it could be a Democratic pick up. Verdict: Slightly Republican (Safe Republican w/Bilirakis as the candidate)
13th Congressional District – How many years have the Democrats been trying to get Bill Young’s seat, yet they never can? Just like the 12th Congressional District, people vote for the person and not the party. If, for some reason, this seat were to open up, the Democrats could be extremely strong here. Geographically, the only thing that has changed is the addition of Clearwater and Dunedin. Therefore, it still remains a waiting game for the Democrats in this district. Verdict: Toss-Up (Safe Republican w/Young as the candidate)
14th Congressional District – The only thing that has changed on this district is the exclusion of parts of Manatee County. Otherwise, this is a safe Democratic seat for Kathy Castor. Verdict: Safe Democratic.