(The Center Square) – Seventeen months out from November 2022’s mid-terms and early indications are it’s going to be a strange election cycle in Florida.
The 2022 elections come with the added post-Census suspense of awaiting how the Republican-dominated Legislature will reconfigure the state’s 27 congressional districts into 28 districts and who will benefit from reapportionment.
State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-The-Hills, said Monday he should benefit from reapportionment in announcing he will challenge incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District (CD) even though his Lake County base in not in the district.
“BREAKING: Based on projected maps in Florida ... this morning I OFFICIALLY filed for the new District 7 congressional seat,” Sabatini wrote on Twitter. “This pits my campaign against America Last, corrupt Democrat Stephanie Murphy.”
The “projected” map posted on Twitter shows CD 7, comprised of parts of Seminole and Orange counties reshaped to include Republican-dominate The Villages. Sabatini told reporters Tuesday the map is speculative but a scenario he will push.
In March, Sabatini announced he would not seek a third House term and would challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster in the CD 11 Republican primary.
Sabatini, known for controversial commentary, is still listed as running in CD 11, but said he filed in the district in March to get his campaign off the ground in anticipation of being provided a redrawn district to run in.
Murphy, a former Department of Defense national security specialist, defeated incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica in 2016, turning a formerly red district purple. She is among leaders of the Blue Dog Caucus, a bipartisan coalition of centrist congressional reps.
Murphy campaign spokeswoman Lauren Calmet said the congresswoman fears no challenger.
“There’s a reason why Central Florida voters consistently and overwhelmingly re-elect Stephanie Murphy – because she delivers for Florida families,” Calmet said. “Stephanie is focused on doing her job and believes that if you listen to people, work hard, and get things done, voters will take care of the rest. There will be plenty of time for politics later.”
But all of Sabatini’s map-making could go to the wayside should a former president now residing in Palm Beach County decide to run for Congress in 2022.
In a June 4 interview, radio host Wayne Allyn Root told Donald Trump he should run for congress in the midterms before running for president in 2024.
“Why not run in 2022 for the United States Congress, a House seat in Florida, win big, lead us to a dramatic landslide victory taking the House by 50 seats, and then you become the Speaker of the House, lead the impeachment of (Joe) Biden and start criminal investigations against Biden?” asked Root.
Trump said he’d been encouraged to run for the U.S. Senate, but already endorsed incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio.
“You’re idea might be better,” he told Root. “It’s very interesting.”
Trump is a resident of the 21st CD where he was defeated in November by President Joe Biden and five-term incumbent Democrat Rep. Lois Frankel romped past media personality Laura Loomer.
The Cook Political Report grades CD 21 a D+8 seat, meaning it would be difficult to redraw the district to be GOP-friendly enough for a Republican to win.
But because Florida law does not require Congressional reps live in their districts, Trump could run for Congress in more favorable districts now occupied by a Republican or where the party thinks it can win.
Candidates could be CD 18, represented by Rep. Brian Mast, and three South Florida congressional districts occupied by Republican Reps Mario Diaz-Balart, dean of Florida’s delegation, and freshmen Maria Salazar and Carlos Giménez, the former Miami-Dade Mayor.