In the aftermath of another redistricting shakeup, Florida's congressional delegation is in flux as a court-approved map threatens to whittle away at the 17-member Republican majority while Democrats gain strength.
December’s ruling by the Florida Supreme Court approved a map drawn by a coalition of voting groups — and it is having a ripple effect from Miami to Tallahassee.
At least five of the 27 members of Congress are edged out of their current districts. Four incumbents – U.S. Reps. Richard Nugent, R-Spring Hill, David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, Ron DeSantis, R-Port Orange, and Patrick Murphy, D-West Palm Beach — are not running for reelection. U.S. Reps. Dan Webster, R-Orlando, and Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, are considering moving to new territory.
U.S. Reps. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee, is now forced to run in a district with a majority of Republicans or consider another race.
In Miami, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 230,000 voters, U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen now have districts filled with many more Democrats.
And, across the state, incumbents find themselves representing communities that have never voted for them — prompting challengers, who otherwise may have waited on the sidelines for incumbents to retire, to consider running now.
"We’re closer to fairness,’’ said Michael McDonald, associate professor of political science at the University of Florida and an expert on redistricting.
“You’re probably looking at Democrats getting 12 and Republicans 15 in 2016, rather than 10 and 17,” he predicted. The incremental shift will continue when Ros-Lehtinen, a popular Republican incumbent, retires. “That seat is likely to swing to the Democrat and then you’re looking at a 14-13 split in the delegation. That’s pretty fair.”