Jolly’s Senate decision, which he had considered for some time, was accelerated by a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling that ordered the Florida Legislature to redraw the St. Petersburg-based 13th District because it was gerrymandered and gave Republicans an unfair advantage under the state’s voter-approved “Fair Districts” amendments. In all, eight districts of Florida’s 27 congressional districts were ruled unconstitutional July 9 and must be redrawn by the Legislature within about three months. The Legislature is expected to redraw the districts during a special session from Aug. 10-21.
The court stopped just short of specifically and clearly ordering the Legislature to redraw the 13th District to include the southeastern corner of the Pinellas County peninsula. That corner of the peninsula was instead included in Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor’s Tampa-based district, which is mostly in another county across the water.
“The enacted configuration of these two districts, which crossed Tampa Bay, added more Democratic voters to an already safely Democratic District 14, while ensuring that District 13 was more favorable to the Republican Party,” the court ruled. “Because the Legislature cannot justify its enacted configuration of these districts based on race — the only justification that was offered — the trial court should have invalidated these districts. Accordingly, Districts 13 and 14 must be redrawn to avoid crossing Tampa Bay.”
Along with tens of thousands of Democratic voters, Crist lives in this St. Petersburg corner of the 14th District that the court has ordered to be redrawn into the new 13th District.
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist all but announced his intentions to run for Congress in a Tampa Bay-area House seat that will likely be redrawn to include his home, have more Democrats and lack an incumbent.