Saying she is "very disappointed" in the federal court ruling that rejected her attempt to invalidate a new Congressional District 5 which stretches across North Florida, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, announced Wednesday that she will seek re-election to the district anyway.
“Although I still maintain that the new congressional districts will be severely disadvantageous to minorities throughout the state of Florida, I intend to declare my candidacy for the newly drawn Congressional District Five of Florida,'' Brown said in a statement.
On Tuesday, a three judge federal court panel of the Northern District of Florida upheld the Congressional District 5, which had been ordered reconfigured to run from east to west by the Florida Supreme Court last year. In a landmark case, a majority of justices ruled that Brown's Jacksonville-to-Orlando district was in violation of the "Fair Districts" amendments to the state constitution because it was drawn to carve out Democratic-leaning African-American voters from districts in Northeast and Central Florida to benefit Brown and to make the surrounding districts more hospitable for Republican candidates.
Brown sued, arguing that the newly-configured district violates the federal Voting Rights Act by making it less likely that the district would elect a candidate preferred by black voters, and the federal court rejected her claims.
"Although the victory percentages may drop slightly from those in the north-south configuration, the evidence demonstrates that black-preferred candidates should generally continue to win east-west District 5 with about 60 percent of the vote," wrote judges Robin Rosenbaum, Robert Hinkle and Mark Walker in the opinion. "And a win is a win, regardless of the margin of victory.”
Brown, who has served in Congress since 1992 in a district that sliced through the central part of Florida, is likely to face unfamiliar competition for the new North Florida district. Although much of the population of the district is still concentrated near Brown's hometown of Jacksonville, she must now appeal to voters that she has never served before as far west as Gadsden County.
Former state Sen. Al Lawson, a long-serving Democratic legislator from Quincy, has announced his decision to run in the district regardless of Brown's decision. Others had said they are considering jumping into the race as well.
Brown said she is "still mulling my options" about whether or not to appeal the court's decision saying she is "reviewing the ruling with Rep. John Conyers (the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee), as well as with Attorney William Sheppard and his legal team in Jacksonville."
"I have a lot of unfinished business to address in Washington, and I look forward to providing a strong voice in Congress for the citizens in the new 5th Congressional District,'' Brown said.
"As I always have, I will fight to bring the federal dollars that the citizens of the 5th District send to Washington back to Florida,'' she said. "As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I will continue to fight to enhance transportation and infrastructure funding and development; and as a staunch advocate of health care, work to expand health care opportunities through the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare), as well as expand Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security dollars."