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Updated 3:05 p.m. | The Florida Supreme Court struck down a sizable portion of the state’s congressional map, throwing the 2016 elections into a state of disarray.
In a 5-2 decision Thursday, the court ruled the GOP-led redistricting process was “tainted” by partisanship and drawn to favor Republican incumbents. The Legislature has now been tasked with redrawing eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts within, as well as adjacent districts affected by the new lines. Full story
Reince Priebus won’t be behind the wheel of a stock car, but the the Republican National Committee is going to Daytona International Speedway.
Spectators at this weekend’s NASCAR races in Florida will be encouraged to register to vote. You might say the party’s staff and volunteers will be “at the races” — literally.
Legal battles over redistricting in nearly a half-dozen states could leave operatives from both parties scrambling to understand a new political landscape in the months leading up to next year’s primary and general-election contests.
The biggest domino in that fight will fall by the end of June, when the Supreme Court is expected to announce whether it is constitutional for an independent redistricting commission to draw Arizona’s congressional map. If the court deems the map unconstitutional, it would upend Arizona’s district lines, and affect other states that also utilize independent redistricting commissions.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy for Senate Monday, perhaps trying to head off a primary as a second candidate prepares to enter the race.
Murphy announced his candidacy last month for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. With his fundraising prowess and proven ability to win in a swing district, he has long been perceived as the favorite of national Democrats. Full story
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will seek re-election to her House seat and will not run for Senate, she confirmed to Roll Call Tuesday in the halls of Congress.
The Democratic National Committee chairwoman had been considering a bid for the potentially open seat, thanks to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio looking at a run for president. Full story
The Florida Supreme Court voted Thursday to hear a case challenging Florida’s congressional map, setting oral arguments for March.
A Democratic outside group will start airing a radio ad targeting Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., in his high-stakes race against Democrat Gwen Graham in the 2nd District.
According to information provided exclusively to CQ Roll Call, Ocean Champions, a conservation group that backs Democratic candidates, will begin a $64,000 buy Tuesday that will run 1,300 radio spots in the final month of the campaign. The group will release another spot later in the month.
Updated 12:07 p.m. | A new internal GOP poll showed Rep. Steve Southerland II had a six-point lead last week over his Democratic rival, attorney Gwen Graham.
Southerland had the support of 45 percent of respondents, while Graham had the backing of 39 percent, according to the congressman’s campaign polling memo, a copy of which was obtained by CQ Roll Call.
The pair are locked in a heated battle for Florida’s 2nd District, based in the Panhandle area.
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — It took Republican Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis 16 hours to travel from western Wyoming to the Florida Panhandle on Sept. 26 to campaign for her embattled colleague, Rep. Steve Southerland II.
Like other women in her conference, she is spending this pre-election recess fanning out over the country to help House Republicans in competitive races, especially men struggling through what Democrats have deemed the GOP’s “War on Women.”
“I spent the entire day — a long day — traveling, and it means a lot to me to be here for Steve, because I want to serve with him,” Lummis said in a interview here recently week, surrounded by veterans at a small gathering before a Women for Southerland rally.
Southerland faces a fierce re-election fight against Democrat Gwen Graham, an attorney and Florida political scion, in the 2nd District, a region that includes Tallahassee and stretches to the Gulf of Mexico coastline.
Southerland, in particular, has struggled with female voters. Earlier this year, his supporters hosted a male-only fundraiser with an invitation that read, “tell the Misses not to wait up.” Southerland responded to news reports on the event by comparing the event to a lingerie shower.
That’s in part how, on Sept. 27, a handful of female Republican officeholders descended upon Panama City Beach. Besides Lummis, Rep. Martha Roby drove that morning from her home in Montgomery, Ala., with her young daughter to attend the rally. Former Arkansas first lady Janet Huckabee was also in attendance.
ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. — Former Florida first lady Adele Graham does not entertain the word “if” in polite conversation, at least when discussing the political future of her daughter Gwen. It’s only “when.”
The wife of ex-Florida governor and senator Bob Graham treats doubt that Gwen Graham will oust Republican Rep. Steve Southerland II with a gentle arm pat and tone of voice usually reserved for obscenity or wearing white after Labor Day.
The Graham family has summoned the force of its political operation behind its eldest daughter to ensure its 50-year Florida political win streak does not end in November. But while the Grahams spent three decades dominating statewide politics, the Southerland family also has deep ties in the district.
“When Grahams run, Grahams win,” the candidate tells her supporters at a Saturday afternoon meet-and-greet on this north Florida coast barrier island.
But this is a tough district and environment for any Democrat, even a political scion. President Barack Obama’s plummeting approval rating make it that much harder this year for House Democratic candidates to gain traction.
Southerland and Mitt Romney each carried Florida’s 2nd District by 6 points in 2012. And geographically, this seat has more in common with Alabama than Miami.
To combat that reality, a Southern Democrat must create an outsized personal brand that will help voters forget any association with the president.
ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. — Former Florida First Lady Adele Graham is not happy with her daughter’s political rival, Republican Rep. Steve Southerland II.
Graham and her husband, ex-Sen. Bob Graham, have been a pervasive presence on the campaign trail in support of Democratic attorney Gwen Graham’s bid to unseat Southerland in his 2nd District in the Florida panhandle.
A state judge upheld the Florida legislature’s newly revised congressional map Friday, ruling the redrawn House districts should apply to the 2016 elections.
“The 2014 elections will have to be held under the map as enacted in 2012,” Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis wrote in his ruling, siding with Florida lawmakers who argued that applying new district lines to this election cycle would create chaos.
The ruling allows the Aug. 26 primaries to continue as scheduled. Even so, the new map makes minor changes to the state’s House districts and will likely have a minimal effect in 2016 on the congressional delegation, where House Republicans currently outnumber Democrats 17 to 10.
The Florida Secretary of State submitted an alternative election schedule Friday to a state judge who is considering whether or not a redrawn congressional map should apply to the midterms.
According to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, should the new map apply to this cycle, the earliest possible primary date for the seven districts affected by the new map would take place on March 17, 2015. The general election would follow on May 26, 2015. Full story
The Florida Legislature approved a new congressional map Monday evening and sent it to the governor’s desk, although it’s still unclear whether the new House district boundaries will past muster or take effect for the 2014 elections.
The newly passed map only makes minor changes to the congressional districts and is not expected to alter Florida’s congressional delegation, where House Republicans currently outnumber Democrats, 17 to 10.
There are a number of ways the redistricting chaos could end, but the clock is ticking down to the Aug. 26 primary. Next week, a judge will rule whether the new lines are acceptable, and when voters will head to the polls.
Lawmakers returned to Tallahassee last week under a judge’s order to redraw the Sunshine state’s congressional districts. In July, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled two districts violated the state constitution, which prohibits drawing districts to favor a political party or incumbent.
It’s back to the drawing board for Florida lawmakers, who must return to Tallahassee this week for a rushed redraw of the state’s congressional map.
On Friday, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis issued an order setting an Aug. 15 deadline for the legislature to redraw the map and for state officials to develop a revised election schedule. A trial on the proposed map and schedule will take place on Aug. 20, with a ruling expected the following day.
The special legislative session, scheduled to start Thursday, comes nearly a month after a state judge ruled two congressional districts violated the state constitution, which prohibits drawing districts to favor a political party or incumbent.
The Florida primary is scheduled for Aug. 26, so it’s still unclear whether the new congressional map would take effect for the 2014 election cycle. Full story