With one line on a map, state Sen. Tom Lee threw the political futures of two members of Congress into uncertainty. Though Lee insists his move was done without political intention, Lee passed an amendment to the senate’s congressional redistricting plan that would put one boundary of US Rep. Dennis Ross’s 15th Congressional district on the north side of Lake Mariam Drive in Lakeland. The problem? Ross, a Republican, lives on the south side of the very street that Lee chose as the boundary of the district. From just over the white brick fence in Ross’s front yard, he would be able to see his Congressional district, but he wouldn’t be living in it. Instead, Ross, first elected in 2010 would technically be living in U.S. Rep.Tom Rooney’s 17th Congressional District, which stretches through rural central Florida to include areas around Lake Okeechobee. If Ross wanted to vote for himself in 2016 and not face Rooney in a primary, he’d either have to move across the street or hope that Rooney, first elected in 2008, would not seek re-election or he would move to a new district again, like he did in 2012 to comply with the original redistricting maps.
The coincidence of Ross’s home being on the wrong side of the street was not lost on Ross’s chief of staff Anthony Foti. He let it be known that the Legislature should reject the Lee plan and stick with a base redistricting plan that the Florida House favors, which would keep Ross living in the 15th Congressional district.
“The base map approved by the House leaves politics on the sidelines and abides by the Supreme Court’s directives to draw fair and equal districts,” Foti said. “The Senate should put politics aside and adopt the House map.”