Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let the Games Begin...the fight over redistricting starts today

The Census Bureau is set to release their much-anticipated 2010 data today, and the key to the 2012 elections is in these numbers.

Based on estimates, Florida is gaining at least one, probably two, new Congressional seats.  We're taking over!  This actually reflects a nationwide trend of "red" or Republican-controlled states gaining population (e.g., Texas), while "blue" or Democrat-leaning states (New York, Ohio) are losing people.  Hmmm, maybe people like lower taxes?

Anyway, the Washington Post has a helpful write-up about what to expect from the Census numbers, and here's their comments on Florida:
If Florida gains two seats and New York loses two, the Sunshine State will be tied with New York for the third-largest congressional delegation in the country. Republicans control the drawing of the map in Florida, but a ballot measure that passed this year attempts to narrow their ability to draw districts that are too politically motivated. How much they will actually be restricted is an open question, but Republicans feel good about their ability to draw the map. Population gains in southern Florida and the Tampa Bay area should allow Republicans to try and draw two GOP-friendly districts. At the same time, nothing is for certain here, and we could be headed for a long legal battle either way.
My money's on a long legal battle.  There is just too much at stake.  Fortunately, the last election left the Governor's Mansion, the entire Cabinet, and the vast majority of the Legislature in Republican control.  The Democrats have been grasping desperately on to the passage of Amendments 5 and 6 - pretty much their only victory in Florida last month - and have already been articulating plans to use those amendments as a weapon to attempt to gain more seats.

The Democrats' big problem, of course, is that redistricting won't help them with the statewide races.  Draw districts any old way you want, and Rick Scott is still our governor.

One thing redistricting will affect is our Congressional districts, especially if we add two seats.  So, coupled with the effects of Amendments 5 and 6, we will most likely break up Corrine Brown's gerrymandered trainwreck of a district:

In red: Florida's 3rd Congressional District.  Indefensible by everyone except for Corrine Brown and her daughter's lobbying clients.

Now, since the Republicans control the Governor's Mansion, the Cabinet, and the Legislature (man, I just love saying that!), they have nearly total control over the redistricting process.  When I was little, I knew another little girl who got a shiny new dollhouse and she would not let anyone else play with, or even touch, that dollhouse.  Well, with redistricting, the Republicans have the dollhouse and the Democrats don't get to play. 

It's MY dollhouse and no, you can't touch it.
You're lucky I'm even letting you look at it.
Another interesting wrinkle is the date by which Florida's redistricting process is supposed to wrap up.  According to a liberal site, the Florida Progressive Coalition Blog, Florida's deadline for redistricting is the latest in the country:
As previously reported Florida’s deadline for redistricting is June 18, 2012. With an August primary, this is nothing more than an incumbent (and Republican) protection racket, since it makes it almost impossible for challengers or underfunded candidates to know what their district is in time to mount a significant campaign for the 2012 elections.
The author, Kenneth Quinnell, has helpfully looked up the redistricting deadlines for other states, which you can see here.  What do you think?  Do you think Florida's deadline for finishing redistricting is too late?  Do you think the lawsuits will even be done by then?  And, let's go ahead and start the madness with speculating who might be running for those new Congressional seats in 2012!

UPDATED: As expected, Florida is indeed gaining TWO Congressional seatsSee a map here of which states are gaining and losing.


  1. For what it's worth:

    The Cabinet has no bearing on redistricting. It's the Legislature and the Governor. And since the GOP controlled both houses and the mansion in 2002, there won't be too much change.

    Remember, REPUBLICANS drew the Corrine Brown seat -- mostly to satisfy the Voting Rights Act. Amendments 5 and 6 do not supercede the VRA, so Corrine Brown will continue to represent the minority areas of both Jacksonville and Orlando.

  2. The Voting Rights Act certainly comes into play, but I'm not entirely convinced that Brown's seat isn't still at risk. The districts still have to be proportional when it comes to population, and adding a new seat to the upper portion of the state is going to have to affect District 3's lines in some way.

    Amendments 5 and 6 had Corrine Brown very, very scared...she threw a lot of her money and effort into campaigning against them and filed a lawsuit the day after the election. She may not be the best public speaker, but the woman's not an idiot.

    My big complaint with Amendments 5 and 6 was that they didn't add new standards for redistricting so much as they added new issues to litigate. I have a feeling we may need every minute up to Florida's late redistricting deadline for the courts to get this sorted out.

    And yes, you're right that the Cabinet has no role in redistricting. I had originally written that line for part of a longer blog post about what we migh expect from Tallahassee this year. I also just really like mentioning that the Republicans control everything. ;)


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