#Mappageddon is certainly deserved after Judge Lewis threw out all congressional Districts this morning and ordered new maps be redrawn. This is one of the biggest announcements in the history of Florida politics. The fallout could be huge for a variety of reasons.
Above all, this is uncharted territory for all interested parties. I wrote about various options on here a couple of weeks ago and a few of those will still be a factor. Of course, the Legislature does still have the option to appeal the original decision, which kicks the case back into court limbo land. However, they will have to be granted a stay in order to change the process from moving forward, which could give yet another judge a chance to throw a wrench in the system. There are literally endless options moving forward and no clear path if they appeal, would could detract them. The unknown factors may be too much.
Of course, if they choose not to appeal, there is a slew of things to consider. This has incredible consequences in the Florida Legislature. A special session will have to happen immediately in order to get it done by Aug 15th and candidates are not allowed to take campaign money while they are in session. More than likely, they already had a map ready, so they could call a special session and be done in 24 hours with it and just wait until the 20th to argue it, or they could make it drag on and include other things in the special session.
My sum up of choices before the Republicans are this:
– Appeal and put off decision. There are very few known benefits, other than letting incumbent legislators campaign. See my post from before.
– Call a special session and let it drag on. Vulnerable incumbent Ds will not be able to fund raise during this time and this could allow their opponents to bury them in the money race. Many, like Zimmerman and Danish, are already behind in the money race. This could give the Republicans a huge chance at having veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, seeing that they just need to pick up one seat in the Senate and 5 in the house. This becomes a real possibility if you handicap incumbents for two weeks. This could have a crippling effect on Danish, Zimmerman, and Clelland, who were having a hard time keeping up the money game to begin with. In the Senate, Sachs is going to have to go back to Tallahassee and cannot take any campaign donations, which would be a big deal. Would Republican leadership be willing to sacrifice a Congressional seat in order to have their agenda pushed through unchecked? Who sits in the Governor’s mansion will not matter if you have veto-proof majority in house and Senate.
– Call a special session and have it only last a day. They have known about the ruling for a while and more than likely have a map ready to go. It will probably just slightly more fair, but it will have to drastically change District 5. Legislators fly up for one day, pass new map, wait until the 20th to argue, new districts announced end of Aug. Small bump in the road, outcome past the process will be minimal.
– They could always punt it back to the judge to draw this districts and make him come up with an answer. Highly unlikely, but possible considering the rarity of the situation.
In the end, it is still too soon to tell the winners and losers, but what is clear is that there is a huge amount of uncertainty. While the Congressional maps will be the biggest change, the ripple effects could be much bigger than previously anticipated. Could surprises creep up? Will increased attention bring out the voters and help avoid a 2010 situation? If there is a special congressional election after November, will Ds turn out? Democrats have trouble with turnout for non-presidential races and this will certainly be a factor in Gwen Graham’s race.
Stay tuned folks, this is going to be a bumpy ride.