So with the overwhelming positive feedback I got on my last write-up for FL's congressional districts that the State Senate drafted, I figured Id write up another district Im familiar with, the Florida 2nd, home to Tallahassee and THE Florida State University. Redistricting was kind to us in this district, and Im very confident in our ability to win this seat from the Undertaker, Congressman Steve Southerland (R-Panama City).
Lets look at the district changes :
The panhandle was arguably the one location where the Senate Republicans respected the Fair Redistricting Amendments; where they removed the wierd tail into ultra-conservative Walton and Okalossa Counties and replaced it with Washington, and the eastern part of Leon and Jefferson Counties and added half of Madison. These changes resulted in a net change of 4 points to the district performance, going from 46-54 McCain to 48-52 McCain. But the counties that were added are themselves the important point.
A little bit of background on the area. Leon County is the big Democratic bastion of the district, containing Florida State University, Florida A&M University and the Capitol. It is surrounded by Gadsden County, home of Quincy, which is one of the largest and most consistently old school Democratic bastions of the South. To its east is Jefferson County which is traditionally Democratic though has gotten swingish in the past decade. For a Democrat to win in the district, they need to win all 3 of these counties and with the exception of Jefferson, win by huge margins.
Next you have the swingy blue dog counties surrounding the trifecta; Jackson, Liberty, Wakulla and Madison Counties. Wakulla leans Democratic more than the others but there is one major factor that can cost a Dem the election here, gun ownership rights. Wakulla is fiercely protective of gun rights and will turn on any Dem that even remotely has a hint of gun control in their record. Alex Sink lost closely here partially because there was a last minute smear campaign in Crawfordville suggesting she was pro-gun control. For a Democrat to win they then need to win Wakulla, and at least win 2 of the 3 swing counties. Madison and Liberty lean slightly more Democratic than Jackson, but only slightly.
So who do we run ?
Well we actually have a great candidate who recently stepped to the plate, State Representative Leonard Bembry (D-Madison). Rep Bembry is a blue dog Democrat in the Allen Boyd mold: a rural farming background, represents a swing county, pro-gun rights, and socially moderate. Hes not the most inspiring guy but hes genuinely likable and really appeals to rural voters in the district. If Bembry wins the primary, Id rate this seat as Leans Democratic since Southerland hasnt had enough time to really get established here yet. If Bembry should falter, we could always draft fmr State Rep Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) or Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons who both have strong ties in Gadsden and Wakulla Counties.
Either way, Id rate this seat as a strong pickup opportunity that only got easier due to redistricting.