Redistricting could mean a shakeup in Florida's political landscape

News 10 | News 10 | 07/16/2015

St. Petersburg, Florida - There could there be a shakeup in Florida's political landscape for campaign 2016 thanks to redistricting that's after a historic ruling by Florida's Supreme Court. It tosses out the state's carefully crafted congressional districts and calls for a new map. It could be a big win for some politicians and force others to seek new jobs.

No word from Former Governor Charlie Crist who 10 News called repeatedly on Friday for comment to see whether he's considering a political comeback in 2016 now that a new Florida Supreme Court ruling nearly guarantees that a swing congressional seat will be redrawn encompassing his home.

Other democrats are wasting no time weighing in. Representative Dwight Dudley of St. Petersburg says the court ruling is a long time coming. He says, "The legislature has defiantly resisted and refused to give life and greater meaning for the right to vote by diluting people's right to vote by not drawing constitutional fair districts. That's a big issue. This is a great opportunity for us to make some changes."

Representative Dudley says he understands that the redistricting could provide an opportunity for him to serve on a larger stage. He says, "I'm looking at it. I'm interested in it. I haven't made any decisions as of yet."

County Commissioner Ken Welch says he's also encouraged by the latest development.. Welch says, "Well first of all I want to thank the courts for doing the right thing for the people of Pinellas County and the state of Florida - the legislature obviously circumvented the will of the people when they gerrymandered these districts and it's great where we're standing in Central St. Pete and South St. Pete is part of a Pinellas Congressional district."

Commissioner Welch says it should have always been that way. He too is interested in a congressional run. Welch says, "Well we're taking a hard look at it as you know I'm up for reelection for my county commissioner seat next year but having an opportunity to represent my county commission district at the federal level as a congressperson is something I need to take a look at."

The court ruling could force Congressman David Jolly, the incumbent Republican of the district in question, to bypass a reelection bid and instead try his luck with an open Senate seat.

Other names being kicked around are the former Tampa city council member Mary Mulhern who has said she's interested in moving to St. Petersburg and running for the seat. St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice said last week she'd decided against a run but might be back in the mix too.

The court ruled that state lawmakers have to redraw the maps within 100 days.


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