Newly elected Republican Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna in Clearwater on Nov. 7 (photo by Mitch Perry)
Although the U.S. House of Representatives had not officially flipped to Republican control as of late Wednesday morning, if it does incoming GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy should give a personal shout out to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
That’s because it was the congressional redistricting map that DeSantis pushed the Florida Legislature to approve earlier this year that led to the flipping Tuesday of what had been three Democratic-controlled congressional seats to Republicans.
Add the additional seat that Florida earned through reapportionment, and the makeup of Florida’s GOP congressional delegation has moved from a 16-11 Republican lead over Democrats to a 20-8 Republican majority.
Among the Democratic incumbents who went down to defeat last night was Al Lawson, whose majority-Black district DeSantis’ approved map eliminated earlier this year, prompting a lawsuit filed by a variety of voting-rights groups who claim that the map is unconstitutional. Lawson was forced to run against CD 2 GOP incumbent Neil Dunn in a heavily conservative district in North Florida and lost by 20 percentage points.
The DeSantis map also moved the CD 13 seat in Pinellas County from a Democratic-leaning district that Charlie Crist held since 2016 into one that leaned significantly Republican. Winning it on Tuesday was Anna Paulina Luna, a 31-year-old Air Force veteran and conservative activist who lost to Crist in 2020 by six points, but who defeated Democrat Eric Lynn last night by 8 points.
“While tonight’s results were not what I wanted, when Ron DeSantis’ illegal gerrymandered map gets thrown out by the courts, I will return and be your next representative in Congress,” Lynn said in a written statement released Tuesday night.
Another district redrawn to favor Republicans was Florida’s CD 7, previously held by Democrat Stephanie Murphy. Murphy opted to not run for reelection, and the seat was won by Cory Mills, a former defense contractor and Army veteran who ran on an “America First” platform. He defeated Democrat Karen Green by 17 points.
In the newly created CD 15 seat, which encompasses parts of Hillsborough, Pasco, and Polk counties, Republican Laurel Lee, a former judge who served as Florida’s secretary of state under DeSantis until earlier this year, easily defeated Democrat Alan Cohn by 17 points.
No flip in Miami-Dade
One of the Florida Democratic Party’s hopes to flip a red seat was in Florida’s CD 27 in Miami Dade County, held by Republican María Elvira Salazar. But Salazar beat Democrat Annette Taddeo by more than 14 points, 57%-43%.
The one bright spot for Democrats was the election of Maxwell Frost in the Orlando-based CD 10, which had been held by Democrat Val Demings. Hailed as the first member of Generation Z to reach the House of Representatives, the 25-year-old activist won support for a number of national progressives, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
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