Ladies and gentlemen of District 22, at this time next year, you will be completely rid of Congressman Allen West.
Faced with an unfriendly redistricting proposal and growing opposition from national groups including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, West announced this evening that he is ditching the whole place in favor of a run in what is currently called District 16, occupied by Rep. Tom Rooney.
That's right. The guy who signs his emails "Steadfast and Loyal" is ditching all 683,288 residents of his district. Don't worry, though -- he has a plan.
"As a 22-year United States Army veteran who commanded troops in combat, one should never underestimate my ability to be a strategic thinker," he said in a statement. It appears he neglected to mention that the last time he commanded troops in combat, he tortured a guy.
According to campaign finance documents filed today, West has raised $5,851,185.12 for his run in district 22 -- money that he is not required to give back and almost certainly won't.
The move will certainly make coming weeks more interesting: There's no telling who's going to run in West's vacated district -- Democrats Patrick Murphy and Lois Frankel have both stated that they wanted to oust West (and raised a few million dollars to do it), but now it's unclear whether they'll follow him to his new race or stay in District 22 for a run against Adam Hasner, who was running for Senate until a few hours ago.
That was entirely too many names for one paragraph, so a quick recap:
- Rep. Rooney announced today that he'd be leaving his district to run for an empty seat in a newly created congressional district.
- Rep. West will be running for Rooney's old seat.
- Hasner will be running for West's old seat.
- Murphy and Frankel will either run against West or Hasner or pull some "strategic thinking" of their own and run off to some other district or districts.
Murphy spokesman Eric Johnson said it was "premature" to officially jump into a specific race.
"The maps aren't done for these people to be deciding where they're running," Johnson said. "We're targeting Allen West, but Allen West doesn't know what the maps are finally going."
West and Rooney have created an interesting electoral situation -- they would both be incumbents running against opponents that aren't yet clear in districts that aren't their own. We don't even know what the districts are officially even going to look like: The proposed map makes Rooney's and West's districts much more Democratic, but the maps still have to pass the Florida House and survive any court challenges.
We'll have much more about the situation as the details unfold -- who knows what West will say in a scheduled appearance on Fox News at 10:30 p.m.
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