Updated at 6:52 p.m. with news that Hasner will run in West’s district
Tea party firebrand Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) announced Tuesday that he will switch districts and run for reelection in Florida’s new 18th district.
West’s 22nd district, which was already Democratic-leaning, got even tougher under a new GOP redistricting plan released last week. The new district would have gone about 57 percent for President Obama in the 2008 presidential race.
But Rep. Tom Rooney’s (R-Fla.) decision earlier Tuesday to run in the open and Republican-leaning 17th district rather than the swing 18th freed West up to make the switch to the neighboring district, which is just north of his current district, which spans from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale.
“Congressman Rooney is a statesman and has been an honorable public servant to the constituents of Florida’s 16th Congressional district,” West said, referring to Rooney’s current district, which is re-numbered from 16 to 18 under the new plan. “It is my goal to continue the success Congressman Rooney has had in Florida’s 16th Congressional district in the newly proposed 18th district. I welcome the challenges and excitement that lie ahead.”
West brings a vaunted fundraising operation to the new district, which is based in Port St. Lucie and contains about a quarter of his old district. But it remains to be seen whether his outspoken conservatism might cost him independent votes. Democrats will surely target the seat.
West’s departure from the 22nd district means Democrats will be favored to pick up a seat there.
But the GOP may have some hope, as a source tells The Fix that Senate candidate and former state legislator Adam Hasner will switch races and run in the newly open district. Hasner was part of a crowded GOP primary to face Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).