Political musical chairs | Washington Examiner
DDemocratic Rep. Al Lawson’s November playbook is a campaign version of a half-court buzzer shot he might have tried as a standout basketball player for Florida A&M University in the early 1970s and then briefly in the pros with the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks.
The 6-foot-7 lawmaker is seeking re-election in Florida’s new Republican-leaning 2nd Congressional District based in the conservative Panhandle Center. It is a radically different precinct from the current minority-majority 5th District of Lawson, which straddles the Georgia state line. Lawson, who is black, first won the district in 2016 after a court-ordered reshuffle of Florida’s 27 House seats. (He’s about to turn 28 due to population growth over the past decade.)
In November, Lawson will have to beat fellow House member, GOP Rep. Neal Dunn, to retain his seat. Fights between House members in general elections are rare but far from unprecedented. A handful typically appear every decade or so after the redistricting process, which in this cycle was used in Florida by Gov. Ron DeSantis to maximize Republican gains in the Sunshine State’s House delegation.
The Lawson-Dunn contest isn’t the only lawmaker-versus-lawmaker contest in 2022. In a much more competitive race, new Republican Rep. Mayra Flores will try to hold onto her seat against Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez in Texas’s 34th District, based in east of the Rio Grande Valley.
While this seat was designated by Republican state legislators in Texas to be politically competitive, the reverse was true in Florida. The current Lawson District was dismantled in the redistricting. In the new quarter, former President Donald Trump would have beaten President Joe Biden in 2020 by about 11 points. The new district has a much more rural bent, encompassing a swath of conservative counties that have increasingly voted Republican in recent decades.
But thanks to his high profile, Lawson is not out of the game. After Lawson’s professional basketball career ended due to injuries, he returned to his hometown of Tallahassee and coached the men’s team at Florida State University for a while while also getting into the insurance business. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1982 and held his seat in Tallahassee until 2000, when he was kicked out of the house by term limits.
Lawson then served as a state senator for 10 years. And after two losing bids for Congress, in 2016 he beat scandal-ridden Representative Corrine Brown in the Democratic primary for the 5th District, claiming victory in November.
In the House, Lawson generally voted with Democratic leaders, but veered off on some issues, such as support for charter schools. Dunn was also elected to the House in 2016 when he first ran for public office, and he has always voted conservative.
Dunn, a Boston native, after earning his medical degree from George Washington University, moved to Panama City, Florida where he helped found the Panama City Urological Center and Panama City Surgery Center and has was the founding chairman of Summit Bank.
It’s more likely to be a tighter race in the Southern District of Texas that is being closely watched not just to see who wins the fight between Flores and Gonzalez, but how far Republicans have improved their performance with Latino voters. . Flores became something of a GOP hero when, in June, she won a special election to finish the term of former Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat who quit the House to join a law and lobbying firm. in Washington, DC.
Flores, an immigrant from Mexico, has become the embodiment of Republican efforts to win over traditionally Democratic voters in South Texas and nationally. In November, she will face Gonzalez for a new seat in the House, the 34th District, near the US border with Mexico.
This time, however, Flores faces a tougher race. The new 34th District would have backed Biden over Trump 57.2% to 41.7%. And now Flores, though an incumbent, will face House colleague Gonzalez, who has served since 2017. In the House, Gonzalez has voted with the Biden administration more than 97% of the time, making it an ideological showdown. classic featuring a conservative Republican versus a liberal Democrat.
Both sides are watching the race closely. House Republicans need just five seats in the 435-member chamber to win a majority for the first time since the 2018 election. But recent polls have shown that’s far from inevitable, so the district of Texas, near the bottom of the continental United States, this fall is expected to swell with political announcements and candidate events.