Democrats Caught Off Guard: Headaches Intensify For Florida Democrats

The Hill

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The headaches are intensifying for Florida Democrats as retirements, candidate recruitment challenges and a burgeoning redistricting fight add to the party’s troubles in an already difficult midterm election year.

The party’s hopes of winning approval of new political maps proposed by the Republican-controlled state Senate — with which Democrats were largely satisfied — are now mired in uncertainty after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) took the unusual step of submitting his own redistricting plan that would drastically claw back the number of Democratic districts.

At the same time, Democrats are contending with the retirement of Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) as well as the losses of Reps. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) and Val Demings (D-Fla.), who are forgoing reelection this year to run for governor and Senate, respectively.
There are also questions about who will challenge Reps. Maria E. Salazar (R-Fla.) and Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) for two South Florida House seats that are among the most competitive in the state and flipped into Republican hands in 2020.

Taken together, the challenges are daunting for Democrats, who are already facing historical and political headwinds in their bid to hold on to a razor-thin majority in the House this year. Republicans need to pick up just five seats in November to recapture the lower chamber.

“It’s a headache,” Thomas Kennedy, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) member from Florida, said. “The process is being rigged and dragged on to make this as painful as possible. We need candidates to announce now. There’s still time between now and November, but it has to happen soon.”

DeSantis, a rising conservative star who’s seen as a potential candidate for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nod, caught state lawmakers off guard this week when his general counsel submitted a draft congressional map that gives Republicans 18 districts former President Trump would have won in the 2020 election compared to 10 that would have gone for President Biden.

The governor’s congressional map also redraws the districts represented by Crist and Murphy and cuts the number of districts in which Black voters could reliably elect candidates from four to two by effectively doing away with the seats held by Demings and Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla). The draft map has already garnered threats of lawsuits.

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