Assessing (the ulterior motives of) the House Redistricting Committee

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To those of us closely following the reapportionment process, last week’s announcement of the House Redistricting Committee was the legislative equivalent of the annual unveiling of which films are nominated for Academy Awards. Now that we know who is on the committee, we can finally get down to drawing — and redrawing — some district lines. In other words, let the good times roll!
Oh wait, the House Redistricting Committee doesn’t really get to start drawing lines right away. First they have to listen to meeting after meeting of, um, testimony from concerned citizens and interest groups throughout the state.
I want to draw some lines, damnit. I want to see what you do to Pinellas County if you redraw the state Senate districts north-and-south, rather than east-and-west, although I wouldn’t mind seeing a map of that either. I want to see what Southwest Florida looks like if you plop another Congressional District on top of it. I want to see how the GOP can possibly redraw Orlando’s legislative districts without obviously protecting its incumbent legislators.
Draw, draw, draw.
Nope, first the legislators need to hear from the people. As if some regular Joe from Okaloosa County has a magic pen by which to draw these districts.
So what do we do in the meantime? Let’s do a fast-and-loose assessment of the ulterior motives of the House Redistricting Committee. Yeah, let’s do that!
Of course, no one else will own up to these assessments of the members of House Redistricting Committee. Nor are these the reasons why Speaker Dean Cannon selected these members. In fact, Cannon that members have 99 ways to invite the courts to throw out their maps and do it themselves and only one way to try and avoid that and that’s to play it straight. What would concern Cannon are any members who would try to make district boundaries better for someone else — more African-American, more Hispanic, more Democratic, etc. — and thereby place the power of the Legislature in jeopardy.
Still, legislators are legislators and while they may toe the line for most of the reapportionment process. But as all hell breaks loose next Spring, look for the true motivations of each committee member to be revealed. Accordingly, here’s my fast-and-loose assessment of the (ulterior motives of) the House Redistricting Committee.
Weatherford, Chair – He’ll drive the train
Precourt, Vice Chair – Strong member with influence among those who have been straying from Dean Cannon’s lead – especially the large freshmen class. Might be eying Senator Gardiner’s seat. Will make friends and draw nicely cut lines to protect as many frehmen as possible.
Adkins – Will do whatever Cannon & Weatherford want her to do. A yes (wo)man in every sense of the word.
Bernard – Little influence, but will articulate African-American concerns.
Chestnut – Gainesville seat always gets love with a “Gator” Speaker; another African-American member.
Dorworth – Had to be on committee; his district could be a problem area for the GOP and as Speaker Designate in 2014 he needs to be protected and have a say in said protection.
Eisnaugle – Returned favor for carrying Cannon’s water on legislation which would have revamped Florida Supreme Court.
Fresen – Member of the so-called Miami Mafia, which will look out for region’s interests.
Frishe – Close ally of Cannon’s; wants to cut the Senate seat he covets even THAT much cleaner.
Holder – Very interesting pick, which had to have perked the ears of Senator Latvala. Close friend of Will Weatherford’s.
Horner – Long ago friend of Cannon’s – believe he was Supervisor of Elections when Cannon ran for and won SG Pres at UF. Might recut either Dockery/Haridopolos/Siplin seat for himself.
Hukill – One of the highest regarded female legislators. Commitee needed a respected woman – and few others fit the bill.
Jenne – Some think he may try recut his district to spite old family foes and/or cut a friendly Senate district for former State Rep. Tim Ryan.
Jones – African American female from Duval marks off a lot of checkboxes.
Kiar – Selected perhaps because he’ll be a pushover, but will actually have a big say in the US House seats (because Cannon/Weatherford don’t particularly care about those seats in the south).
Legg – Fasano wants his old House seat back, unless Legg cuts him a friendly US House seat. Wheelin’ and dealin’ in Pasco.
Nehr – Also will be involved in the Fasano intrigue, but he seems to also play well with a rogue group of R’s who have become less-than-friendly with Cannon. Also gets along well with the freshmen class and will help them.
Rogers – She could cause some trouble for the D’s; may or may not be co-optable.
Rouson – Will do what it takes to give himself the best deal for Arthenia Joyner’s seat. Or Bill Young’s Congressional seat.
Schenck- His late rise to power is what landed him here – especially with his close ties to the Governor; some believe he may “speak” for the Governor during meetings.
Workman – To appease Haridopolos by making Broward US House seat stronger for Haridopolos and weaker for Bill Posey.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.