Former U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland is considering another run in Florida’s Second Congressional District, according to two sources close to the former north Florida Congressman.
Southerland represented north central Florida in the U.S. House from 2011 to 2015 before an upset defeat at the hands of U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham sent him packing.
Florida Politics first reported in March that Southerland would not seek a rematch against Graham in 2016, however he is now seriously weighing a return to electoral politics because it appears likely that Florida’s congressional districts map will be redrawn in a way that disadvantages Graham and makes it more likely that a Republican will represent some part of what currently constitutes CD 2.
Two weeks ago, the Florida Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to redraw U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown‘s minority access seat based in Jacksonville from east to west, rather than north to south. That will mean that a redrawn CD 5 will almost certainly reach into Graham’s electoral base of Tallahassee to collect African-American voters and shift them into Brown’s district. In Graham’s sprawling district, which contains all or parts of a dozen red rural counties, this represents a serious threat to Democratic viability.
Southerland is “praying about what to do,” says one source who has raised money for his 2014 campaign. He is also asking supporters to hold off before supporting any other possible candidates. Southerland is likely referring to Mary Thomas, who continues to gear up for a congressional run.
Thomas told Florida Politics she will announce that she is a candidate for Congress in an address at the Florida Press Center this Wednesday. Thomas created a Twitter account on Sunday (@MaryThomasEsq) that says that she is a “Conservative Republican candidate for Congress.”
Thomas is an attorney, a first-generation American and a devoutly conservative Republican. She is also Rick Scott administration agency general counsel and a member of the Federalist Society. If elected, Thomas would make history as the first Indian-American woman ever elected to Congress.
As Southerland ponders a return to the Beltway he inveighed against as a small-government conservative on the stump, he may talk it over with some new Washingtonian friends: the self-proclaimed outsider was picked up as a lobbyist by Capitol Hill Consulting Group back in April.