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New Maps Have GOP Congressmen on the Move

February 2, 2012 - 6:00pm

New maps for Florida's congressional districts have candidates scrambling for seats across the Sunshine State.

The decennial game of political musical chairs was amplified by the addition of two districts and the anti-gerrymandering requirements of Fair Districts.

As a result, some incumbents were shifted out of their existing districts. And Republicans, who hold 19 of Florida's 26 congressional seats, were the most affected.

Additional tweaks could be made as the Florida House and Senate negotiate a final map, but here are a few of the moves that appear likely (district numbers follow the House numbering system):

Veteran Rep. John Mica, R-Orlando, faces a choice of staying home and running against freshman Rep. Sandy Adams in CD 7, or moving to a newly drawn CD 6 up the coast, where former U.S. Senate candidate Craig Miller has thrown his hat in the ring. Both Mica and Miller live in Winter Park.

Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, another longtime congressman from Central Florida, may also be moving north to run in CD 3. Since a new district centered on The Villages retirement community didn't pan out, Stearns got crowded by neighboring Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Spring Hill. State Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, has plans to run in CD 3 as well, but might pull out if Stearns moves in.

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, will move west to hold onto a redrawn CD 15. A new map diminishes the presence of Polk County as it splits the district among pieces of four counties.

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, is heading west to run for the newly created CD 17, a sprawling rural district in south-central Florida. CD 17, one of two new districts, is predominantly Republican. The second-term congressman surrendered his current east coast seat to make way for freshman Rep. Allen West, who will move up from Plantation to make CD 18 his new home.

Adam Hasner dropped his U.S. Senate bid to move back home to contend for West's current district. Republicans figure Hasner, a former Florida House majority leader from Delray Beach, will have a better chance of defending the 22nd Congressional District that turned bluer during reapportionment.

Florida's other new congressional district, the so-called "Latino access" seat, encompasses south Orange County and most of Osceola County. Though a couple of Hispanic Republicans are ramping up a run there, the early favorite in the heavily Democratic CD 9 is a non-Latino -- former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson.

With Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, running for U.S. Senate, his strongly Republican CD 19 is up for grabs. Term-limited state Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, plans to leave his Charlotte County home and head south for that race.

Not everyone is discommoded by the new maps. Per U.S. Department of Justice requirements, the majority-minority districts held by Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, retained their minority content and were kept largely intact. Brown's district maintains its tortured snake-like configuration to capture a maximum number of minority voters in northeast Florida.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fort Lauderdale, lost a few Democratic voters in CD 20, but the hyper-partisan congresswoman, who also chairs the Democratic National Committee, remains in what is rated a "safe" Democratic district along Florida's Gold Coast.

Contact Kenric Ward at or at (772) 801-5341.

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