A Democratic-leaning congressional district in eastern Hillsborough County?
The redistricting maps proposed by the State Senate Redistributing Committee would create what some political insiders consider a strange phenomenon – a strongly Democratic-leaning minority district that also includes most of the East Hillsborough counties, which are strongly white and Republican. .
At least two former Democratic congressional candidates Alan Cohn and Adam Hattersley say they plan to run again in the new District 15 if it ends up looking like the Senate proposal. The same goes for Sean Shaw, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018 as the Democratic candidate for Florida attorney general.
Time-limited Republican County Commissioner Stacy White, who friends say has raised interest in a Congressional seat, has confirmed he might take a look as well.
Present-day District 15 includes much of eastern Hillsborough, then goes further east to encompass the Lakeland and Clermont areas, producing a district with a strong Republican tendency.
In 2020, Cohn faced Hattersley in a primary there and won, but lost to Lakeland Republican Scott Franklin in the general election.
The new District 15 proposed by the Senate would be entirely in Hillsborough County. It would expand westward to encompass the minority and downtown neighborhoods – East Tampa, Ybor City, and Progress Village – as well as the college area and New Tampa.
It would go east to the county line, uniting the urban and minority areas of Tampa with rural Republican enclaves including Plant City, Lithia, Thonotosassa, and Fort Lonesome.
In 2020, the area covered by the proposed new district voted for Joe Biden from 53% to 45%.
Cohn and Hattersley live in the neighborhood, and Shaw said he lives in Seminole Heights, five blocks from it.
Shaw, who is African American, could have an advantage in a Democratic primary, according to an analysis by political mapping expert Matt Isbell. About 40 percent of Democratic voters in New District 15 would be black, with 41 percent of voters white and 11 percent of Hispanic voters.
âIt is entirely possible for an African American Democrat to win this district,â he said.
But Cohn noted that he had spent a lot and recently on campaign advertising in the area, boosting awareness of his name, while Hattersley notes that he once represented much of the district at State House.