Congressional seats might be more competitive

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When they began crafting the Fair Districts amendments years ago, one of the goals supporters had was to create more competitive Congressional districts, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida. In at least some instances, under a draft of the map recently released by the staff of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, they might have succeeded.

Overall, there are few major partisan swings in the districts, according to an analysis of the numbers by the News Service of Florida. And all in all, the map would still have 15 congressional districts that were carried by GOP presidential candidate John McCain in 2008, despite the addition of two seats; Obama would have carried 12 of the districts as they’re proposed now, instead of the 10 he carried under the current map.

But several of Florida’s seats would become more competitive under the new plan. For example, Rep. Rich Nugent’s district voted for McCain by almost 13 points under the old map; the Senate proposal would nudge that number down to about 4 points.

Others appear relatively secure. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Democratic lawmaker from Jacksonville who has vociferously fought the Fair Districts amendments, would still be in a district that went for Obama by approximately 42 points.

Perhaps the most intriguing problem for Republicans is whether and how to untangle a mess that could prompt Rep. Allen West to move from the 22nd Congressional District that he currently represents to the 16th Congressional District represented by Rep. Tom Rooney.

West’s current district would become much more Democratic under the proposal released this week, going from a 4-point edge for President Obama in 2008 to a 12-point edge. Rooney’s nearby district would go from a slight edge for McCain to a slight edge for Obama, but would still be substantially less Democratic than West’s current seat.

“If there is a GOP loser in redistricting, it is West,” Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant, wrote in a recent blog post. “That being said, he is a big fundraiser and hard worker, though I am doubtful his politics line up too well with this new seat.”

It wasn’t long after that speculation began to mount that West would jump into Rooney’s district.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.