Redistricting Round 2 Could Impact Corrine Brown, Dan Webster Big in 2016

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: July 12, 2014 3:55 AM
Corrine Brown and Dan Webster

Corrine Brown and Dan Webster

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis threw a major wrench into Florida politics this week when he ruled the state’s congressional districts were unconstitutional. While this might not be much of a problem this time out, two longtime Florida politicos have reasons to worry down the road if this ruling stands. 

Lewis specifically cited the seats held by Corrine Brown and Dan Webster as violating the Fair Districts amendments passed by voters back in 2010. Brown is already fighting the ruling, planning on making an appeal. This case will undoubtedly drag on for a while, going all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. It’s doubtful that the decision will shuffle the deck in time for this year’s elections.

But 2016 is a different story and that should send shivers down both Brown’s and Webster’s spines. Even though they have been in Florida politics for decades, redistricting could impact them greatly.

Brown has been in Congress since 1992 and has always relied on a heavily gerrymandered district, holding the most reliably Democratic seat with the most African-American voters in North Florida. Over the years, she’s beaten back some impressive challengers like Alvin Brown and Jennifer Carroll, but for the most part Brown’s had easy pickings. That can change dramatically if more conservatives and Republicans are included in her district while more Democrats would be included in neighboring districts like those of Republicans Ander Crenshaw and Ted Yoho.

Back in 2010, Brown worked with Republicans in the Legislature against redistricting. She teamed up with Mario Diaz-Balart to argue that the Fair District amendments hurt minority voters. By taking the lead on the issue again, Brown is doing a favor for Republicans by pushing back. That could help her if the Legislature needs to draw up new congressional maps once again.

Webster could also be in some peril, especially as Central Florida grows more Democratic. While he has an easy task this time out, Democrat Val Demings, helped by Barack Obama’s and Bill Nelson’s coattails, came close to beating Webster in 2012. Democrats will be trying again in 2016, hoping their voters are more likely to come out for a presidential year. Webster could be hard-pressed to hold onto his seat, especially if Democrats go all out in Central Florida.

Since he’s been in Florida politics for so long, it’s easy to forget that Webster is only 65, but the area has changed dramatically over the years. No matter how many rooms in Tallahassee or highways have his name, a large chunk of his voters aren’t that familiar with him. Still, look for Webster to play less of a role than Brown in the latest round of the redistricting fight.

For the moment, Brown and Webster are safe. Neither has drawn a major opponent and they can expect to run out the clock until November. But, if the decision is upheld, both could be facing real challenges in an open presidential year.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (8)

this is criminal not civil
10:27AM JUL 14TH 2014
Thanks to the corrupt judicial system created by the Bush brothers and their old man victims now have to file civil suits where the laws that are broken should be enforced by the law enforcement of jurisdiction and the prosecutors that are supposed to be in place ot prosecute the crimes of those arrested by law enforcement.

Why should the League of Women Voters have to hire lawyers to sue the Florida Legislature and their well paid hacks like Pat Bainter Data Targeting (whom the GOP admittedly paid $6.2 Million bucks too for his fraud schemes) Their actions were criminal - they all conspired to violate the laws of the land. They should all be charged criminally and convicted on the same evidence that won this civil case. Even since OJ Simpson's criminal trial was fixed the rest of these criminals feel they have the same right to a fixed or ignored criminal prosecution and trial.

And don't you just know Richard Nixon would have loved to have had the power to file and appeal like Bainter did and have his Illegal methods of his crimes be deemed "trade secrets!" Sound like the mob is ruining Florida from all directions nowadays!
6:58PM JUL 13TH 2014
How many Elected Officials don't even live in their districts?

All of this, including the Gerryrigging is appalling!
6:14PM JUL 12TH 2014
the 1992 Congrssional and legislative reaqpportionment in Florida was a deal with the Devil by the Florida Balck Caucus and the NAACP. It has echoed down to this day and is long since past time for it to come to an end.
Brown shpuld be ashamed of herself. Granted she does not have a stellar legislative record in terms of authoring legislation but she and her staff have a commendable record of constituient service to the communities and peopl of her district. Rast Republican Mayor of Jacksonville complimented her and her staff for their efforts on legislation theat was judged important to the City of Jacksonville while he was mayor. Brown needs to stop whining and start to embrace a far more compact district and emphasize that constituient service.
Much better than my Congress Critter Ted Yoho's by the by.
1:08PM JUL 12TH 2014
speaking of disenfranchisement, look at 1 million+ ex-felons in FL (amazing % of the population) and guess the racial makeup and likely leaning of this crowd. For all his faults, Crist started a serious program to restore rights to non-violent felons, some 250K of them, then Scott changed the rules and stopped it almost completely (a few hundred)--and imposed waiting periods of 5-7 years before they can even apply.
Stats say that over 30% of black adults cannot vote.
6:56PM JUL 13TH 2014
Took my cousin 15 years t get his voting rights restored; obtw jackrabbit, we aren't black.
9:54AM JUL 12TH 2014
Gerrymandering is not just a Republican thing. Power corrupts on both sides.

Because of the demographics, it is hard to see how Brown will be impacted if her district is completely redrawn, and she won't be at all if reverted to the pre-2010 lines.

But redrawing will impact more than her and Webster. It potentially opens up adjacent districts for Democratic challenges, including John Mica’s, who was given a helping hand by the redistricting. And may also shore up Alan Grayson’s hold.

Bottom line in this Republican driven corruption being reported nationally, per Lewis, the redistricting gave "significant Republican benefit for a competitive district," Lewis wrote.
Eric Dondero
7:41AM JUL 12TH 2014
"as central Florida grows more Democratic..." And why would that be exactly? Importing more and more illegal aliens into central Florida to gain more votes for the Dems?

Amazing how the media celebrates disenfranchisement of white voters. Can you imagine if it was the other way around? Media celebrating a black or Hispanic area becoming more Republican as a result of legal, native white Americans moving in.
9:10AM JUL 12TH 2014
Ah yes, rightwing racism continues to raise its ugly head on SSN . . . . . so, tell me where's your proof that illegal aliens are voting in any numbers anywhere in Florida . . . . . much less enough to swing an election . . . . what, you have none (you know, actual arrests, actual verifiable facts) . . . . of course you don't have any . . . . besides, either Rick Scott must be so incompetent that he can't do anything about this, or there isn't hardly any in the state . . . . . . . .or BOTH . . . . . . just more mouthy truthiness of the far right delusional mind . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .

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