Monday, January 30, 2012

Mitt Romney Is Not Behind The Redistricting Of FL-22

A lot of conservative blogs are up in arms today about the current redistricting plans for Florida which must be done in order to conform to Florida's new redistricting laws. This new law, Florida Congressional District Boundaries Amendment, known as Amendment 6 on the on the ballot during the 2010 midterm election, was a constitutional amendment to Florida's state Constitution. The proposed constitutional amendment was approved by the majority of voters.
There are false rumors that Mitt Romney and/or his surrogates in Florida are trying to push Represenative Allen West out of action: 
Conservatives pointed out that a major player in the process, Florida Speaker Designate Will Weatherford, has been a surrogate for Mitt Romney in the past. Some used this fact to suggest that Romney was involved in a campaign against Allen West.
This claim is bullshit. 
I can prove it.
Let's look at the language of the Florida Congressional District Boundaries Amendment: 
In establishing Congressional district boundaries:
(1) No apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory.
(2) Unless compliance with the standards in this subsection conflicts with the standards in subsection (1) or with federal law, districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.
(3) The order in which the standards within sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section are set forth shall not be read to establish any priority of one standard over the other within that subsection.
Now, lets look at Representative Allen West's district:   

Lets take an ever closer look at FL-22: 

Looking at these maps, its pretty clear that FL-22 is a blatantly gerrymandered district with all those squiggly line reaching inland to very specific regions. Those stretched and distended shapes were done to make that district Republican and competitive in a region that is well known to be heavily populated by Democrats. 
Its obviously clear that under the new anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative, FL-22 cannot remain as it is and be legal. It has to change in order to comply or conform to the Florida Congressional District Boundaries Amendment which the voters of Florida overwhelmingly supported. As a result, the GOP leadership's hands are tied. They must follow the law. 
As a result, any legal redrawing of FL-22 is going to be naturally be filled with more Democrats since the district as it currently stands is artificially a Republican district due to the obvious carve outs on the map.
Its clear that the Florida GOP did the best they could do under the law to help Representative Allen West since that area covers Palm Beach County which is not known for being a strongly conservative area, Mr. West should be greatful that his district only became 4 points more Democratic than it used to be.  Things could have turned out worse for him but it didn't.
Lets not forget that Allen West isn't the only person to be affected by the proposed redistricting plans for Florida:
Case in point are Reps. Tom Rooney and Allen West. Both of their South Florida districts got about four points more Democratic, which should make life significantly tougher for each of them. Rooney now has a more compact swing seat (the 18th) north of West Palm Beach, while West’s already Democratic-leaning 22nd district just south of Rooney’s became even more Democratic and will be tough for him to hold.

West has been a very outspoken tea party freshman and has raised huge money, but line-drawers don’t appear to have done him many favors. His district, as constructed, would have gone about 43 percent for the last two Republican presidential nominees.

Both men appear to have options, though. Rooney could run in the new 17th, which includes much of his current territory in the Everglades, while there has been some talk of West running across the state in Mack’s district. (Though West has shown no interest in this.)

Other Republicans who see their districts getting slightly less friendly include Reps. Steve Southerland , Vern Buchanan and David Rivera. Buchanan actually gains registered Republicans and retains the vast majority of his current district — both positives for him — but the performance of his district moves about a point towards Democrats.
The evidence is clear. Mitt Romney or his political allies in Florida are a part of some evil, nefarious back room deal to push out Representative Allen West. Its clear that those who were on the committee to redraw the district did as much as they could to help him out. 
Allen West is a soldier and he can fight under tough circumstances. It will make things harder for him but he can do it. Other people may whine and cry about the new district changes, but Allen West won't. He'll just suck it up and fight harder. And he'll win.

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