Sunday, March 23, 2008



3 wingnuts being protected by Debbie Wasserman Schultz

I could be wrong about this but I'm willing to bet that the 8 congressional districts of southeast Florida are the most corruptly gerrymandered political entities in the United States, more so even than what DeLay was able to accomplish in the unconstitutional redistricting of Texas. Geographically, the boundaries are so irrational and byzantine that you know they could only have be drawn by the most cynical and self-serving of politicians. And a little look back into history shows that, indeed, quite a few members of the Florida legislature were involved in micro-designing districts tailor made for, not just their own political party, but for themselves! Even a visual of the map stinks to high heaven! With this kind of a foundation can anyone wonder why the rest of America thinks of Florida as a banana republic without a legitimate or functioning democracy? It's no coincidence that it was the place-- Florida and southeast Florida in particular-- where the Bush Family arranged to steal the 2000 presidential election. The carefully nurtured political culture seamlessly lends itself to any kind of skullduggery or corruption.

A reflection of the mindset that went into the design of the districts is how overwhelmingly Democratic the Democratic districts are, for example-- with almost every neighborhood with African-Americans, regardless of how distant they are from eachother cobbled together into two districts. That way the districts designed for Republicans won't have to cope with Democratic voters-- nor will the extremist representatives ever have to moderate their far right views to accommodate various points of view. Northwest Miami-Dade County has the 17th CD (represented by Democrat Kendrick Meek) and the PVI is a staggering D +35. The 18th CD (represented by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has a PVI of R +4, a district that could easily turn blue if the boundaries were slightly adjusted, maybe leaving the 17th with a PVI of D +20). Similarly insane is Robert Wexler's inland areas of Broward and Palm Beach counties, the 19th, which was described in the Almanac of American Politics like this:
The boundaries of the 19th district are erose and irregular, obviously drawn with an eye to political advantage; the Republicans who controlled the redistricting process were happy to pack heavily Democratic [Jewish and elderly] precincts into the 19th.

The PVI is D +21. Same story is Debbie Wasserman Schultz' 20th CD where the PVI is D +18. Of course, stuffing all the Democrats into these districts allows for the creation of relatively safe red seats for Lincoln Diaz-Balart and his brother Mario Diaz-Balart, respectively the 21st CD (with a PVI of R +6) and the 25th CD (with a PVI of R +4). Scooping up all the African-Americans in between and packing them into the bizarrely drawn 23rd CD (which is represented by Alcee Hastings) helped make the surrounding seats secure for extremist Republicans. The 23rd has a PVI of D +29! Getting the picture?

There are several reasons I have southeast Florida in my sights this week. For one thing, I'm excited that there is a genuinely progressive, grassroots candidate-- rather than the normal, pathetic, Republican-lite party hack the worst Democratic Party in America has been prone to spit up when given the opportunity-- running in one of the districts. Instead of another Tim Mahoney or Christine Jennings, FL-25 will have a chance to vote for Joe Garcia. So expect to start reading more about Joe here at DWT. But there's more; I want to go in a different direction here. Let's talk about Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

I know she's a Rahm Emanuel gal and a big shot at the DCCC, with the responsibility for helping challengers in her home state and also in overseeing, along with 2 other Democratic incumbents, the entire Red to Blue program for the DCCC. I have no complaints about her moderate to liberal voting record, although in a district as dark blue as hers, she could be more of a leader on progressive issues. But, overall, she's ok. When it comes to the tough substantive issues that separate Democrats from Bush Regime rubber stamps, there are only 66 better Democrats in the House (and only two Floridians, Alcee Hastings and Robert Wexler).

The bone I have to pick with her involves mostly her behavior as the co-chair of the Red to Blue program and her decision not to support Joe Garcia against her extreme right wing pal Mario Diaz-Balart (as well as the Democrats running against Mario's almost equally extremist brother, Lincoln, and the clueless Bush Regime rubber stamp Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Wasserman Schultz caused an uproar in the usually complacent Florida Democratic Party when she announced she would be sitting out these three races because of her great relations with the 3 wingnuts who have voted against virtually every single Democratic priority since Lil' Debbie was first elected to Congress. To try to tamp down the outrage, DCCC Executive Director Brian Wolff, who refuses to remove her from her Red to Blue position, hastily penned a meaningless endorsement of Joe Garcia and the 2 other Democrats running against Wasserman Shultz' friends, Annette Taddeo and Raul Martinez. The endorsement doesn't come with the cash Red to Blue status Wasserman Shultz is withholding. Instead the DCCC slapped up an especially pathetic and cynical ActBlue page, Turn South Florida Blue! which, as of this writing, has brought in exactly zero. I know when we add a candidate to Blue America-- as we're about to do with Joe Garcia-- we always donate ourselves. Brian Wolff brags about the support he, Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel, and DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen are all giving these candidates. Talk is cheap. Let's see some action.

Tomorrow come back for Part II and we'll try to figure out Debbie's motives, motives that look extremely suspect in light of what DavidNYC has dug up over at Swing State.

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At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



You already hit 4 out of the part today, but this one's just plain brilliant.

You are absolutely the best writer on congressional elections, bar none.

You work incredibly hard to elect progressives, and you have an amazing knowledge of the electoral terrain.

Hats off to you, Howie. No wonder DWT is my favorite site. I am just so tired of the mud slinging about Obama v. Clinton that is endemic to so many political sites.

House and Senate races are every bit as important, if not more so, for 2008.

Thanks Howie, for your heart and your brain.

Valley Girl

At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The great analysis of the makeup of the congressional districts is somewhat compromised by saying that DWS "announced" she isn't supporting Joe Garcia et al. She didn't make some speech telling all her political secrets. It came out in a Miami Herald article two Sundays ago, and I'm sure the Herald had to pry it out of her. And it's something that our supposedly terrible local Democratic Party has tolerated for several cycles, for lack of powerful challengers. Now things are different.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

Anon 7:47,
So what's the deal down there? Why is DWS being such an idiot? How would DWS like being called a killer(or an accessory at any rate)? Because that is exactly what she is. We need more votes to override stuff like S-CHIP vetoes, or doesn't she care?


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