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District 24—No Contest

October 23, 2012

There is no vote for US Representative from Florida District 24 in the November election, because that was determined in the August primary.  The Republican party did not put up a candidate, so the primary became a “universal primary” which meant that members of both parties could vote for the Democratic candidates, and incumbent Frederica Wilson won—overwhelmingly—over Rudolph Moise (also running as a Democrat), thereby determining the outcome.

The redrawn District 24—which, full disclosure, is my district—is unusual in South Florida because it is majority black and therefore presumptively a “safe” Democratic seat.  It runs from downtown Miami through the historic black neighborhoods of Overtown, Liberty City, and Brownsville through Opa-Locka and Little Haiti and includes North Miami, North Miami Beach, and Miami Gardens (all of which also have large numbers of Haitian-Americans) into far southern Broward County as far as Miramar.  About 55 percent of the voting age population is black.  Another 30 percent are Hispanic (only about one-fourth of them Cuban),  Only about one-eighth of the residents are Anglo whites—mostly in the neighborhoods east of Biscayne Boulevard like Morningside and Belle Meade and in largely white municipalities like Miami Shores and Biscayne Park.

Frederica Wilson gained the seat in 2010 when Kendrick Meek resigned to run for the Senate against Marco Rubio.  As a freshman representative, she lacks a substantial legislative record and is probably best known for her flamboyant hat collection, but she has been a reliable supporter of President Obama and his policies, and she gained some prominence by demanding a fuller investigation of the Trayvon Martin killing this past spring.  I think she deserved a second term, and almost certainly I would have voted for her if she had had an opponent in the general election.

There is, in the redistricting business, something called “packing”, where districts are drawn in order to put as many of a given ethnic or political group as possible into the same district.  The positive effect is that it all but guarantees that that group will have some representation in Congress.  The negative effect is that it tends to minimize the influence of the same group in surrounding districts, and therefore is sometimes a subject of controversy.  (The opposite—and more nefarious—practice is called “cracking” and consists of splitting a coherent community among several districts in order to dilute its influence.)  I suppose District 24 could be viewed as an example of packing, but all things considered, I think the way the district is drawn is defensible.

However, as happy as I am that my own district will be sending a Democrat to Congress, in a larger sense it does concern me that out of the five congressional districts that include parts of Miami-Dade County, three of them (24, 25, and 27) are essentially or actually uncontested in the general election.  That means that most of the residents of Miami-Dade really have no choice over who represents them in Congress.  Maybe people are okay with that, but it just doesn’t seem very healthy for democracy.

From → Politics

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