Republican Allen West was all over the fundraising appeals of the Democrats -- Patrick Murphy and Lois Frankel -- who were trying to unseat him. Now that West has announced he will run in a different district, the Democrats won't be able to rely on West's words and votes as much to bring in donations and support for their races. And that Democratic field could also get a lot more crowded. Check out the other Democrats who say they may jump in or sit this one out.
Republican Rep. Allen West will endorse former state lawmaker Adam Hasner, who is announcing that he'll drop his U.S. Senate bid and run for the seat West is leaving. West plans to run in a friendlier Palm Beach County-based congressional seat.
The endorsement from the Tea Party-backed West comes in the midst a political scramble for Florida's congressional seats. Thanks to redistricting, sitting lawmakers are trying to find friendly home districts -- and so are potential challengers.
A chain reaction of announcements culminated Tuesday when Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, who currently represents Martin, St. Lucie and Palm Beach Counties, announced he’d run in a new proposed congressional district that stretches from Martin to Charlotte County.
West then said he’d run in Rooney’s old seat, opening up a slot for a Republican in West’s District 22 seat, which straddles Palm Beach and Broward counties.
That allows Adam Hasner to exit the U.S. Senate race and run for West’s old seat. Hasner, who was struggling in a five-way Republican Senate race, would be running in a congressional seat that mirrors his old Delray-Beach-based state legislative district.
West's endorsement stands to bring thousands of dollars Hasner's way in what will be one of the most expensive congressional races in the country.
So far, there's two Democrats in the race: Former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, and businessman Patrick Murphy. Several other Democrats have said they'd consider running for the seat: Broward County commissioners John Rodstrom and Kristin Jacobs.
There is a lot of chatter about Democrats who may jump into the Congressional District 22 primary now that Republican Allen West has said he'll run in a district to the north instead.
Broward County Commissioners John Rodstrom and Kristin Jacobs are both considering a bid. Jacobs told us she is "seriously" considering it. Jacobs had thought about running in the past before West's announcement -- she faces term limits in a couple of years so this would move up her potential plans to run.
Former Congressman Ron Klein, who lost the district to West in 2010, said today he has ruled out running this cycle. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler had not even won his re-election bid Tuesday before he started getting calls urging him to run but Seiler said he won't run for the seat.
The politics blog browardbeat.com reported that Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom may jump in to the Congressional 22 race now that Republican Allen West announced that he will run in another district. Redistricting has steered the Broward/Palm Beach district more to the left.
Rodstrom, a 59-year-old Democrat, is term limited out of his county job in November. Rodstrom told Naked Politics this morning that he started to think about running for Congress in earnest during the past couple of weeks as rumors swirled that West was getting out.
If Rodstrom enters the race, that would pose a challenge to the other two Democrats running: businessman Patrick Murphy and former state legislator/West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel. Rodstrom, a Fort Lauderdale resident who works at Sterne Agee brokerage agency, said he has won seven of nine elections -- he lost a race for mayor and state Legislature. As a longtime politician and husband to Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, Rodstrom would have the ability to raise a lot of money.
Rodstrom said he sees a rare opportunity in running for an open seat
The dominoes are falling.
U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner will likely leave the race and run for Allen West's soon-to-be-vacated Congressional seat, a source tells us. West's seat looks a lot like Hasner's old legislative Delray Beach-based district.
Hasner's move makes sense on more levels than that. Rep. Connie Mack, of Fort Myers, is cruising in the U.S. Senate race, leading in the polls and, soon, fundraising. Hasner could have handled that.
But Hasner's campaign was dealt a serious blow, of sorts, bythe presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, who stumped in the final days across Florida with Mack. Mack picked up precious TV time and the aura of the favored.
Meanwhile, to avoid a bloody primary, leadership in the U.S. House asked Hasner to run for West's seat. But first, West had to announce he'd leave his seat and run for Tom Rooney's seat. And before that happened, Rooney had to announce he'd leave his district and run for a new district.
Connie Mack still has to run in a primary, though, and former Sen. George LeMieux is sticking with it. At least for now.
All of the shifting has been sparked in large part by the Constitutional requirement to redraw congressional districts every 10 years after the U.S. Census. A new state constitutional requirement forbids state legislators, who must redraw the maps, from favoring or disfavoring an incumbent or political party.
Translation: It's a recipe for a lawsuit.
So now the question is: What happens to this Republican congressional musical-chairs game if Democrats sue and win the right to have new maps?
We missed U.S. Rep. Allen West voting this morning in Plantation but caught up with his wife at her precinct. Angela Graham-West wouldn't reveal who she voted for in the presidential primary.
She disagreed with suggestions that her husband got screwed by the redistricting plan that would steer his swing district in Congressional 22 more to the left. "I don't think it was deliberate," she said.
When we told Graham-West about Limbaught's comments, she disagreed with the conservative commentator arguing that Romney cares more about his own race than West's race.
At a precinct at the Pompano Beach Civic Center, some Republican voters preferred Romney because they described him as having less baggage than Gingrich.
"I decided walking in -- that's how undecided I was between Romney and Gingrich," said Ronald Perkins, a 60-year-old who works as a chaplain at Port Everglades. "I'm very upset by all the negative campaigning."
Perkins said he had personally met Gingrich in the past and described him as "the smartest human being he has met" but said that can be a problem because "he knows it."
Ultimately Perkins said he thought Romney had a better chance: "Romney is more electable. He has less baggage. Both have baggage but Romney has less."
Perkins wasn't personally turned off by Gingrich's cheating in terms of evaluating presidential candidates.
"I believe in forgiveness," Perkins said. "He has gone to confession. Like the rest of us he continues to sin. To me it's not the most important criteria for who is going to be president."
Victor Reale, a retired airline agent in Pompano Beach, said Gingrich got his vote. Reale saw Gingrich as a man who promised quick action within hours of taking office.
"I liked the Newt," Reale said. "We should get the debt down. We've got to pay our bills and cut, cut, cut."
As the House prepares to finish up the congressional redistricting maps later this week, Rep. Will Weatherford stepped in to quash a rumor that's been festering in GOP circles for the past month. The gist: Republicans are not targeting Allen West.
The controversial congressman from Broward County has earned a national reputation as a firebrand conservative. But his district is decidedly getting more liberal. Under the House congressional redistricting map, which is expected to be adopted by the Senate, West's district would move west into Plantation, where he lives, and also pick up a swath of Democratic voters.
A personal appeal from Broward Repubican Party Chairman Richard DeNapoli attempted to persuade lawmakers to shift the lines northward along the Palm Beach County coast, giving West a safer Republican district. His fellow Republicans even launched a web site, saveallenwest.com.
Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, is having none of this. He stepped into to fray Monday and posted this statement on his Facebook page:
Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, was interviewed this afternon by Michel Martin on NPR's Tell Me More. The Florida congressman talked about the GOP presidential primary in Florida as well as the forum he held earlier this week in Washington on black conservatism. (Story about that here, from earlier this week.)
Here's what he told Martin about the primary:
"The theme that they should really focus on is, you know, making the case for their vision, for their ideas to be contrasted against that of President Obama so that the people can make the decision of who is the best person to go into that arena of ideas and be able to challenge the president as far as the future and the legacy of this republic. So I think that, you know, people have gotten off-track in a lot of the back and forth, you know, anti-immigrant, Bain Capital, this, that, you know, six of one, half dozen of the other. We've got to get back to the basics. And I'll tell you, a lot of the people that I talked to down in our constituency, that's what they'd like to see the candidates get back towards is talking about ideas and making that contrast."
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has announced its targeted races for November, and -- no surprise for the country's largest swing state -- Florida features prominently on the list.
Among the targets is Rep. Allen West of Plantation, whose reelection fight promises to be one of the highest fundraising races this year, considering how much money West and his Democratic opponents,West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy, have already raked in.
The press release, which is after the jump, also mentions former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando as having what the DCCC considers good odds for getting elected back to the House under new districts that have emerged in the state's once-a-decade reapportionment process.
Notably absent from the list: GOP Rep. David Rivera of Miami. In the past year or so, Dems have touted Rivera's opponent, state Rep. Luis Garcia of Miami, who outraised Rivera early on in the race while Rivera was under a cloud of legal trouble.
But with the noise about at least one of the investigations fading -- and with new maps reshaping Rivera's district -- the DCCC folks don't appear to consider Rivera one of the most vulnerable House members facing reelection.
UPDATE: Speaking to Florida reporters Wednesday afternoon, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel defended not including Rivera on the list.
"David Rivera is one of the most challenged incumbents in the United States Congress. We want that district," Israel said. "We're hoping that Luis is able to expand his base and continue to work hard so that he will be eligible for red-to-blue status in the next go-around."
The intra-party infighting that emerges when the once-a-decade process of reapportionment begins has erupted. In an open letter to members of the Florida legislature's redistricting committees, the top brass of the Broward Republican Party have registered this complaint: your maps don't protect our incumbent -- namely Allen West, one of the two black Republicans in Congress.
They have launched a web site, saveallenwest.com, and are urging fellow GOPers to contact their legislators. The problem, they say, is the maps violate the constitutional requirement of compactness. (The Constitution also prohibits protection of incumbents.) West's current district stretches up the coast from Hollywood to Jupiter to capture the wealthier sections of Broward and Palm Beach Counties, while the new map stretches only up to Palm Beach Gardens and includes swaths of the more Democratic sections of Palm Beach and Broward counties farther from the coast, making the district less stringy and stretched out.
Broward GOP Chairman Richard DeNapoli argues the districts should be stretched and calls for a "compact coastal district."
"What does not make sense is that the 22nd Congressional District includes Plantation and Sunrise but excludes the northern parts of Palm Beach County, which would be a natural political and geographic boundary along the coast for what is mainly a coastal district,'' he writes.
"It seems that all the proposed maps for Congressional 22 make strenuous efforts to include the cities of Plantation and Sunrise at the southern end of the district yet exclude coastal areas of northern Palm Beach County, which would constitute a natural political and geographic boundary."
Here's DeNapoli's e-mail: