On Thursday, I received the same set of emails and the same set of maps which led to this story by Kenric Ward and this story by Mary Ellen Klas (I am mystified how Klas does not even acknowledge Ward’s story which was posted two days earlier than hers).
I arrived at the same conclusions as Ward and Klas; I just did not want to be the guy who broke this story because I thought it would look like one of Charlie Crist’s most vocal supporters was kneecapping the Chair of the Florida Democratic Party and one of Crist’s possible rivals for the 2014 Democratic nomination for Governor.
Because if Rod Smith took a dive on redistricting, as these articles seem to infer, he has seriously damaged any chances he had of winning the Democratic nomination.
Now, I genuinely don’t believe Smith was trying to carve out a Senate seat for himself, which is what the emails I received attempted to have me conclude, but these emails and subsequent interviews lead one to believe that Smith was ready to drop the legal challenge to the maps in return for the drawing of three more Democratic leaning districts, including one in Smith’s hometown of Alachua, bringing the total to 18. It would have pitted Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauerdale against a potential Democrat in Palm Beach County and created a Democratic-based seat in Volusia and Alachua counties.
It also would have created 22 Republican-dominated Senate districts. By contrast, the final map the Senate sent to the Florida Supreme Court includes 23 Republican-leaning seats, 15 Democratic-leaning seats and two swing districts.
If you think there’s nothing unusual about this kind of horse-trading, you’re absolutely wrong. This kind of back-and-forth goes absolutely against the intent of the Fair Districts amendments, which Sir Rod swore to defend.
This is the point Don Gaetz is trying to make to explain why he rejected Smith’s deals.
“The Supreme Court had already told us that result proves intent,’’ he said. “…How could I enter into a deal that had political results and then stand in front of the court to say I had no political intent?”
That’s only one question Rod Smith has to answer.
Otherwise, in the back of many folks’ minds, they’ll think Smith took a dive on redistricting. And that, truly, would be heartbreaking.