Candidates for West Orange House seat address latest map

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  • | 9:59 a.m. August 27, 2015
Candidates for West Orange House seat address latest map
Candidates for West Orange House seat address latest map
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WEST ORANGE — The latest Florida Legislature redrawing of several of Florida’s 27 districts for the U.S. House of Representatives has affected District 10, which covers almost all of West Orange County.

Tallahassee circuit judge Terry Lewis had ruled original congressional maps drawn in 2012 unconstitutional, which has led to appeals and redraws, including one mandated by the state Supreme Court this July.

Rep. Daniel Webster (R), who has held the district seat since 2011, believes the latest map is disadvantageous to him as the incumbent. A 2010 amendment declared unconstitutional the favoring of incumbents through redraws, a rule that has since affected the shape of his district, he said.

“This will be the fourth district (shape) since I got elected in 2010,” Webster said.

One of those four shapes had an appendage deemed favorable to Webster.

“The favor was based on three benchmark races: the governor’s race in ’06, the president’s race in ’08 and the governor’s race in 2010,” he said. “Two of the three races — by adding that appendage — favored me by teeny amounts, and then one disfavored me. The judge concluded two of the three is enough. One was by one-tenth of 1%; the other was four-tenths of 1%; and the one that disfavored me was seven-tenths of 1%.”

Court proceedings have tied Webster to his district and disfavored him by dividing his district seven ways, he said, likening it to dividing a Florida House seat 30 ways when he testified on the matter.

“They took the biggest part of it — which is in Orange County — they coupled it with downtown Orlando, Pine Hills, so forth — totally Democrat, committed Democrat votes and turned my district into a majority minority district,” Webster said. “I think there were 44% non-Hispanic white people who live in that district, and the lower court had said that because my percentage of Republicans had increased by six-tenths of a percent, that was favoring me. In this particular case, the number of Democrats increased by 14%.”

Webster cited data from the last two presidential elections covering the latest rendition of District 10, in which Republican nominees got no more than 39% of votes, to further make his case that the new map disfavors him.

“If they can’t favor me by one-tenth of 1%, then they certainly can’t un-favor me by 20, 30, 40 points,” he said. “I believe it’s unconstitutional. … It was the court that brought in the partisan data … that said one-tenth of 1% is tantamount to favoring someone. They set the standards. … Based on their definition, it should be exactly the same for disfavoring.”

Webster said he would prefer the map to favor and disfavor nobody and be constitutional, including not splitting big cities such as Orlando, which the latest map does.


Former Orlando Police Department Chief Val Demings (D), who has lived in Dr. Phillips nine years and in the west Orlando area since the early 1990s, recently declared her candidacy for Webster’s seat in the 2016 election. She lost to Webster by about 3.5 points in 2012 and withdrew from the Orange County mayoral election in 2014 but said she always had running next year in mind.

Demings said President Barack Obama would have gotten 60% of votes in the newest map. She was amazed by Webster’s comments, saying she felt the same in 2012. Webster said his opponent in the prior election — 2010 — had gotten 38% of the vote, the same number he believes he is now limited to.

“I felt like I needed to give him my talking points from 2012, because that’s exactly what I had the first time,” Demings said. “We’ll let the Legislature work through the process and see it pass through judicial scrutiny and go from there. We don’t know exactly where lines will end up. If the lines don’t change at all, we expect to contend better. Whatever lines are improved are … out of my control.”

Demographics of District 10 are similar to what they had been in 2012 — about 70% white, 11% Hispanic and 10% African American, Demings said. With her 27 years of Orlando Police Department experience, she has worked closely with all communities and people of diverse backgrounds in different areas, she said.

“I’m very concerned about their issues,” she said. “I worked hard to reduce violent crime in this area but also address many social issues that plague the area in the first place. It’s OK to stay in your lane, but I think leaders take the opportunity to address all issues they can.”

This helps people know who she is and what she stands for, and Demings feels Webster is not the right person to represent District 10, she said.

“Old (District) 10 or new (District) 10, I believe Daniel Webster is the wrong representative for District 10, because you have to represent everybody,” Demings said. “You can’t pick and choose who you want to represent.”

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].


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