Here's something you don't see every day in Tallahassee. State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, might like to run for Congress next year. Fasano just happened to be a member of the Senate redistricting committee, which will draw the lines for the new districts that will be in place for the 2012 elections. Yet Fasano resigned from the redistricting committee on Monday to avoid the perception that he would help draw a new district to his liking. If more legislators were as sensitive about appearing to act in their self-interest instead of the public's, the state capital would be a better place.
There is a long history of both Democrats and Republicans making sure that new districts are drawn to benefit their own political futures. Even now, U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, have filed a lawsuit against constitutional amendments approved by voters last year to make redistricting fairer. Their real aim is to protect their own districts and political futures.
Fasano could have felt entitled to a little home cooking. Retiring U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and her chosen successor, former Hernando Sheriff Richard Nugent, conspired to ensure Fasano and others would have no chance to run for her open seat last year. While the redistricting amendments should prevent the most obvious attempts to benefit particular politicians and political parties, Fasano still could have helped himself by serving on the committee that will draw the new lines.
Instead, he chose to do the right thing and resigned. That could strengthen his hand when he pushes ethics reform legislation this spring — and might even win him more votes in a future campaign.