Republicans Sweep All 5 Competitive US House Races in Florida

Republicans Sweep All 5 Competitive US House Races in Florida
Florida Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), here being interviewed in after a May 2018 hearing in Washingrtion, D.C., has won a fourth term, defeating fellow sitting Florida Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.). (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
John Haughey

With Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.) defeating Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.) in one of just two clashes between sitting House reps across the country in the Nov. 8 midterms, Florida is sending a 20-8 Republican-dominated delegation to Congress in 2023.

According to Decision Desk HQ, with more than 73 percent of the votes reported, Dunn garnered more than 74 percent of the vote, to Lawson’s 26 percent, to win a fourth term in the revamped district.

The Dunn-Lawson race was one of five Florida congressional contests on the Nov. 8 ballot pegged to be competitive.

Florida did its part for the GOP, delivering a gain of four seats—Republicans only needed to gain five seats overall to secure a House majority. Republicans swept all five congressional races deemed to be competitive ahead of election.

In CD 15, former Republican Secretary of State Laurel Lee defeated former local TV news reader Democrat Alan Cohn in what is essentially the state’s newest congressional district between Lakeland and Tampa.

In South Florida’s CDs 27 and 28, incumbent Republican Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) and Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) held off upset bids by state Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami) and state Rep. Robert Asencio (D-Miami).

Republican Cory Mills easily swept past Democrat Karen Green to win the open seat in CD 7 left vacant by Democrat Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s (D-Fla.) decision not to seek reelection in what had been a purple district into one that favors Republican candidates.

Dunn, in CD 2, and Lawson in CD 5 were both elected to the House in 2016. Post-2020 Census redistricting orchestrated by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis fragmented Lawson’s former district, merging blue Tallahassee precincts into Dunn’s deep red Panama City-based CD 5.

The “new” CD 2 voted for former President Donald Trump over President Joe Biden by more than 11 percentage points in 2020 despite Republicans having only a 1 percent advantage of 3,700 registered voters across the 14-county district.

Dunn, 69, a U.S. Army veteran and retired urologist, was favored in polls by 3-to-6 percentage points and had raised more than twice the money Lawson had, $1.67 million to $711,000, according to their Oct. 19 Federal Elections Commission (FEC) campaign filings.

But Lawson, 74, a 6-foot-7 former Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) basketball star who played in the NBA, ran a spirited campaign, touting his 28 years in the Florida Legislature before upsetting incumbent Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) in the 2016 CD 5 Democratic primary and winning the seat in the general election.

Their campaigns reflected the generics of their parties’ 2022 midterm polarities.

Lawson endorsed Biden’s economic agenda—claiming it has funneled $500 million in federal money for job-generating infrastructure projects—abortion rights, and gun control, including banning certain semi-automatic rifles and handguns as so-called “assault weapons.”

Dunn says Biden’s management of  the economy has fostered a 40-year high in inflation, opposes gun control, and supports the Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe v. Wade, saying regulating the procedure is a state issue.

He was among the 147 House Republicans who voted against accepting the electoral vote and Biden’s 2020 election. 

But if past is prologue, the state’s currently configured congressional districts may not remain in place for coming elections.

Florida gained more than 2.7 million residents since the 2010 census, boosting its population to 21.54 million, a 14.6 percent increase, to  expand its congressional delegation to 28 seats.

In redrawing its 27-district map into a 28-district map, DeSantis and state lawmakers dissolved two congressional districts now represented by Black Democrats—Lawson’s CD 5, and Orlando-area CD 10, represented by Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who is challenging incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for his Senate seat.

DeSantis called state lawmakers to Tallahassee for an April special session to adopt his version of maps that do away with the state’s Fair Districts Amendment, approved by voters in 2010 to preserve a “historically performing minority district” in North Florida, which was Lawson’s CD 5.

The amendment prohibits districts drawn to favor or disfavor a political party or candidate and prohibits the “diminishment of minority communities’ ability to elect a representative of their choice.”

But DeSantis claims the amendment is a “racial gerrymander” that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment on the United States’ Constitution by prioritizing race over “compactness” in drawing CD 5.

Several voting and civil rights groups, including the League of Women Voters Florida (LWVF), have filed legal challenges against the redistricting efforts in state and federal court, but none of the suits are expected to be resolved soon.

Florida’s post-2010 Census map drafted in 2012 was legally debated for four years before it ended up before the state’s Supreme Court, which ultimately crafted the map adopted for the 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections.

John Haughey is an award-winning Epoch Times reporter who covers U.S. elections, U.S. Congress, energy, defense, and infrastructure. Mr. Haughey has more than 45 years of media experience. You can reach John via email at [email protected]
Related Topics