Could the battle over gerrymandering finally be catching up to Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville?
According to a recent poll conducted by Brown’s Republican opponent, Mike Yost, the fight to represent District 3 is becoming competitive. The poll, which was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, shows Brown leading Yost by 7 points (49-42, with 6 percent of voters still undecided). While still leading, Brown doesn’t have quite the lead one would expect for someone who has represented the district for the last 17 years.
One likely mark against Brown is her vehement opposition to Amendments 5 and 6, both of which aim to redraw Florida’s district lines to allow for fairer voting practices.
District lines are generally redrawn every 10 years, when new census data is used to help create boundaries for districts that are roughly equal in population size.
But Amendments 5 and 6 are contentious this year. Florida representatives in Congress, like Brown and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, haven’t taken kindly to talk that their districts (which are each composed mostly of minority voters) could be redrawn. Both Brown and Diaz-Balart filed suit to take the so-called “Fair Districts Florida” amendments off the November ballot.
Brown argues that, should her district lines be redrawn, black voters would lose their voice in government. The NAACP, however, does not agree.
In an interview with The Florida-Times Union, Leon W. Russell, legislative chairman of the Florida NAACP, had this to say about redistricting: “It really boils down to one thing. Politicians have their own self-interests in mind. … I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.”
Another Times-Union piece reveals that NAACP reps are none too happy with Brown’s attempts to save her own district:
Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, issued a stinging statement Friday rebuking the fight against the redistricting standards, calling it “a throwback to a very dark time in our history.”
“It should frighten all Floridians to know that some elected officials will stop at nothing to protect their political status by trying to avoid having any rules to stop them from continuing to draw districts that serve themselves rather than the people of this great state,” Nweze said. “More disturbing is the blatant use of scare tactics with African-Americans and Hispanics to justify the continued gerrymandering of districts that benefit only politicians.”
Not only has Brown lost valuable NAACP support, but she is beginning to lose support from her fellow Democrats. The Fair Districts movement is one largely supported by Democrats like Brown. Fellow Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson has already given $10,000 to Fair Districts Florida.
And now, in the face of such staunch opposition, Brown has aligned herself with Protect Your Vote, which is supported by Associated Industries of Florida, a well-known conservative lobbying group.