As the House prepares to finish up the congressional redistricting maps later this week, Rep. Will Weatherford stepped in to quash a rumor that's been festering in GOP circles for the past month. The gist: Republicans are not targeting Allen West.
The controversial congressman from Broward County has earned a national reputation as a firebrand conservative. But his district is decidedly getting more liberal. Under the House congressional redistricting map, which is expected to be adopted by the Senate, West's district would move west into Plantation, where he lives, and also pick up a swath of Democratic voters.
A personal appeal from Broward Repubican Party Chairman Richard DeNapoli attempted to persuade lawmakers to shift the lines northward along the Palm Beach County coast, giving West a safer Republican district. His fellow Republicans even launched a web site, saveallenwest.com.
Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, is having none of this. He stepped into to fray Monday and posted this statement on his Facebook page:
"As the House Chairman of Redistricting, I have the responsibility to ensure there is a fair, open, and legally compliant process. The newly approved constitutional amendments, passed by more than 60% of Florida voters, require the legislature to follow a set of standards,'' he said in a statement issued by his office.
"This is the first time the legislature has been required to follow these legal standards These new standards have resulted in disrupting the current districts for incumbents. The Tampa Bay Times [and the Miami Herald] stated that the House, Senate, and Congressional maps represent 'a record-breaking shakeup in incumbency.'
"It has been reported that at least 38 members of the Florida legislature do not currently live in their district. There are rumors that the Florida Legislature has targeted Congressman Allen West. This is patently false. I personally have supported and endorsed Allen West. I will continue to support this extraordinary member of Congress who has brought a much needed conservative voice to Washington, D.C. However, my personal support cannot and will not trump the Constitution."