An electoral blind spot for conservatives.Jul 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 43 • By MICHAEL WARREN
It looks like Florida legislators are heading back to the drawing board—literally. On July 10, Tallahassee circuit court judge Terry Lewis ruled that the GOP-run legislature violated the state constitution by redrawing two congressional districts “with the intention of obtaining enacted maps . . . that would favor the Republican party.” The state won’t be appealing the decision, and, following the 2014 midterm elections, the legislature will have to approve a new map. But what at first glance looks like a good government victory against the scourge of gerrymandering is actually the result of a years-long coordinated liberal campaign to set the rules for elections.
First, it must be stated: Florida is one of the worst gerrymandering offenders in the country, and because Republicans have controlled the legislature since 1997, the bias has been toward the GOP. One of the districts invalidated by the court ruling, the serpentine Fifth, is a federally mandated “majority-minority” district that winds its way from the west side of Jacksonville southward in a narrow band along the St. Johns River, jutting westward to take in Gainesville. It then shoots back east through a big chunk of the sparsely populated Ocala National Forest before slipping down to take in half of Orlando, some 150 miles south of Jacksonville.
The Fifth was designed to be a safe seat for Corrine Brown, a black Democrat. Republicans tried to pack in as many of north and central Florida’s black Democratic voters as possible, meeting the requirements for minority representation under the Voting Rights Act while allowing for the creation of many more reliably Republican districts, like suburban Orlando’s Tenth, the other district invalidated by the ruling. The Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index gives Brown’s Fifth District a 21-point Democratic advantage, but there are also six safe Republican seats surrounding hers. This 6-for-1 arrangement keeps both Republicans and Corrine Brown elected and happy, though it doesn’t do much for electoral competition.
It certainly didn’t do much for Judge Lewis. Reading the beginning of his 41-page decision, you can practically hear Lewis tsk-tsk as he cites George Washington’s denunciation of political parties as groups of “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men” who try to “subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.” That, Lewis implies, describes Republican legislators who drew Florida’s current congressional district map. Under Florida’s “fair districts” constitutional amendment, he concluded, the GOP legislature would need to draw a new map—a fair map.
But it depends on who’s defining “fair,” and currently, it’s all liberals. In 2005, the League of Women Voters of Florida began pushing for a constitutional amendment to govern the state’s redistricting rules. Two years later, the league joined with Common Cause, National Council of La Raza, the NAACP, Democracia U.S.A., and other liberal organizations connected to progressive mega-donor George Soros’s Open Society Institute to form a redistricting coalition called Fair Districts Florida. Later rechristened Fair Districts Now, the group’s directors include Peter Butzin, the Florida state director of Common Cause; Jorge Mursuli, the president of Democracia U.S.A. and a liberal immigration activist; and Leon Russell of the NAACP. Its president is the League of Women Voters of Florida’s own Pamela Goodman.
Fair Districts Now succeeded in putting two amendments on the ballot in 2010, one for state legislative districts and the other for congressional districts. Both amendments had vague and unobjectionable language requiring that districts not be drawn “to favor or to disfavor a political party or incumbent,” and where feasible to be “contiguous,” “compact,” and “make use of existing city, county, and geographical boundaries.” Then-governor Charlie Crist lent his support, and opposition was limited and late to the game. Both amendments were approved with an astounding 63 percent
of the vote.
8:36 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A lively panel and discussion on Ronald Reagan and today's conservatism, held yesterday at the Heritage Foundation with remarks from the boss, Jonah Goldberg, and Jim Antle:
9:01 AM, Jul 8, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Hillary Clinton has an answer to the question of whether America will turn into a monarchy if she -- another Clinton -- is elected president of the United States. "We had two Roosevelts. We had two Adams," she tells the German magazine Der Spiegel.
And won't endorse Hillary.3:46 PM, Jun 29, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama's closest advisor, Valerie Jarrett says there's no way, no how Michelle Obama runs for political office. But will Jarrett? The aide is leaving that possibility open.
"I want to talk to you about the future," said the NBC reporter interviewing Jarrett. "Is Michelle Obama going to run for office?"
"No," Jarrett said resolutely.
"You said that very definitively," the reporter countered.
8:35 AM, Jun 25, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The problem America faces is not that government is dysfunctional—an election might fix that. It is that America is now governed by a New Political Class, divorced from the concerns of all save its richest constituents. The Class is bipartisan, with members of both parties strolling arm-in-arm into a future in which the privileges the Class has quietly arrogated to itself remain intact regardless of the results of any election.
11:25 AM, Jun 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor in Texas, is now accepting the digital currency Bitcoin. He's just now released this ad, letting supporters know:
12:37 PM, Jun 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Senate majority leader Harry Reid claims that one side--the Democrats--doesn't "have any" billionaire backers:
"The decisions by the Supreme Court have left the American people with the status quo in which one side's billionaires are pitted against the other side's billionaires," he said this morning on the Senate floor. "Except one side doesn't have any billionaires."
11:38 AM, Jun 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Hillary Clinton says that the "American political system is probably the most difficult, even brutal, in the world." She made the comments in a recent interview:
“Politics is so unpredictable, whoever runs has to recognize that the American political system is probably the most difficult, even brutal, in the world,” said Clinton.
11:20 PM, Jun 10, 2014 • By FRED BARNES
With their misleading talk about passing an immigration bill this year, Republican leaders are partly to blame for House majority leader Eric Cantor’s defeat at the hands of an unknown college professor.
9:08 AM, May 21, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Paradise for the most dedicated supporters of President Obama would look like an eternal campaign. It would, in fact, be an eternal campaign. The speeches about hope and change would never end and there would be no messy governing to attend to. One could promise passionately, to make the Department of Veterans Affairs the envy of the world and say things like:
7:01 AM, May 15, 2014 • By FRED BARNES
Ben Carson is warming to the idea of running for president. Since the famous brain surgeon retired last year from Johns Hopkins Hospital, he’s been speaking around the country to enthusiastic audiences. And they’ve affected his thinking about seeking national office.
11:34 AM, May 11, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel might be in trouble. If a recent poll is to be believed, Rahm might have trouble getting reelected.
"Only one in five Chicago voters credit Mayor Rahm Emanuel with doing a better job of running the city than Richard M. Daley did, and only 29 percent would support him if the mayoral election were held today," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.