Like clockwork every 10 years, after the completion of the census, controlling parties in state legislatures across the country reapportion congressional districts in ways that they hope will consolidate their legislative control. While redistricting is par for the political course, sacrificing incumbents is rarely part of the plan. But Republicans in Florida have put one of their own at risk.
Where usually Republicans are accused of reapportioning voters to dilute minority voting blocs, in the case of Congressional District 22 in South Florida, it may be conservative Republican Rep. Allen West, one of the few black elected Republicans in Florida, who ends up losing power. West is currently at the center of Republican infighting over redistricting, and legal challenges may result from the effort.
West, a Tea Party darling who once likened himself to freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, is apparently expendable to the new plan’s architects. Party members in the congressman’s district, which includes Boca Raton, are fighting back, and have even launched a website,www.saveallenwest.com, to advocate for the fiery congressmen, despite the fact that incumbency cannot legally be considered in the redistricting process.
According to Tampa Bay Times, “In an open letter to members of the Florida legislature’s redistricting committees, the top brass of the Broward County Republican Party have registered this complaint: your maps don’t protect our incumbent.” The local leaders claim that the plans will hurt West, whose district as it stands is almost evenly split among Democrats and Republicans. The new proposed district would essentially slice off a largely Republican section and would add a Democratic swath. But the letter may do him more harm than good, as it could trigger a lawsuit.
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