Although Kathy Castor is one of a handful of Florida congressional Democrats who will see the contours of her district redrawn in the wake of the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling today on redistricting, nobody in Florida politics suspects it will affect Democratic Party leanings substantially.
“Florida voters adopted Fair Districts amendments to our Florida Constitution and, today, the Florida Supreme Court reaffirmed that districts need to be drawn to ensure that all Floridians have fair representation. I agree with their decision,” she said today in a a statement.
Castor was first elected to the CD 14 seat in 2006 (when it was called CD 11). At that time, the bizarrely drawn district contained parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, but also a bit of Manatee County as well. Manatee County was removed from her district after redistricting in 2012, but the heavily Democratic leaning part of South St. Petersburg was included, something that the Supreme Court mentioned in its findings today was unconstitutional.
Republicans had said that they included South St. Pete in CD 14 during the 2012 redistricting because they were complying with the Voting Rights Act. But the court ruled today that “the Legislature cannot justify its enacted configuration of these districts based on race — the only justification that was offered — the trial court should have invalidated these districts. Accordingly, Districts 13 and 14 must be redrawn to avoid crossing Tampa Bay.”
Congressional District 13 is the seat that encompasses much of Pinellas County. It’s currently occupied by Republican David Jolly.
Castor has never seriously been challenged in the four times that she has run for re-election. She said today that she’ll continue to work hard for her constituents.
“No matter how new districts are ultimately drawn, I will continue to stand up for Tampa Bay area families, good jobs, good schools and equal opportunity for all,” she said. “I am more committed than ever to standing up to the special interests that hold so much sway in Washington and am grateful for the bipartisan support of my friends and neighbors. I will remain focused on boosting higher wages, economic opportunity, college affordability and equal rights, and shifting district lines will only sharpen my focus.”
Although Castor has yet to earn a Republican challenger next year, she’s not taking the seat for granted. Her campaign said today that she will report “around $800,000” when campaign finance reports are filed next week.