Amidst the Florida Congressional redistricting map stalemate, potential congressional candidates are locked in a holding pattern right now. Incumbents are unsure whether they will even be representing the same districts they do now; will they need to introduce themselves to a host of new voters; could these news districts actually end their terms? Lots of discussion has been focused on Congressional District 5 (incumbent Rep. Corrine Brown-D) and Congressional District 10 (incumbent Rep. Dan Webster-R). If the map approved by the Florida House is approved, both incumbents face real danger of losing their seats. CD 10 could take on a decidedly Democratic shift, while CD 5 could become a bit more Republican.
Right now, Brown’s only opponents appear to be two Republicans, Glo Smith, who lives in North Florida and ran unsuccessfully against Brown in 2014, and Thuy Lowe, who was unsuccessful in her bid against Smith for the Republican nomination for the seat. If CD shifts north and west as expected, Lowe may actually have to leave the race as she does not live in the new CD5, leaving only Smith as a declared candidate against Brown. However, if the shift occurs, others are eyeing a bid for the seat. Webster faces a much tougher challenge, as two prominent Democrats, Val Demmings and State Senator Geraldine Thompson have already declared their intentions to run for the seat. Former State Senator Gary Siplin has indicated a strong interest in making a run, but a final announcement is still pending.
One seat that has not been looked at much is Congressional District 2, in the Big Bend/Emerald coast part of the State. Incumbent Rep. Gwen Graham (D) may be looking at some tough competition of her own if the new map is approved. The District currently crosses 14 counties in the Big Bend Area, including all of Leon County. If the map is approved, Leon County would be split, as would Columbia County. These counties have a more republican flavor to them. In fact, two Republicans have already filed to run and have picked up some powerful GOP endorsements. Part of Leon County could be shifted into CD 5, and some speculation on what Graham would do at that point, possibly even consider a run for the redistricted CD 5, setting up a showdown between two Democratic incumbents. In 2012, a similar scenario played out in the new CD 7 district, where Republicans John Mica and Sandy Adams, both incumbent Congressmen, were forced to run against each other in a primary when the new district was formed.
Today was the last day for the Florida legislature to come together to approve a new map. Now, the districts will likely be drawn by the Florida Supreme Court, a prospect no one wanted. That process may not occur for several more weeks, leaving incumbents and candidates alike in limbo as to what their next steps should be.