A Question for Jonathan – or Anyone Knowledgeable

How honest is the 23rd District of Florida, Jonathan? Bribery & national security aside, I always find percentages like this suspicious:

They first elected him by 59 percent of the vote in 1992 and subsequently have returned him to Congress by margins ranging from 73 percent to 100 percent. He was just re-elected to an eighth term without opposition.

(Not that it is easy to put national security aside.)

Discuss this post at the Chicago Boyz Forum.

10 thoughts on “A Question for Jonathan – or Anyone Knowledgeable”

  1. Hastings represents a rural and semi-rural majority-black district (check out the demographics) whose boundaries are, I assume, to some degree a function of racial gerrymandering. If you look at the demographic link you can see that the population of the district became significantly more black between the 1990 and 2000 censuses. I don’t know if this fact is due to redistricting or migration, but I suspect it’s related to Hastings’s reelection margins. It’s an overwhelmingly Democratic area and Hastings is a highly partisan Democrat. I haven’t followed his career but I assume that he is adept at catering to the interests of his constituents. I don’t know the degree, if any, that his record as a judge plays a role. It might have helped him to the extent he has been successful at portraying himself as a victim of racial persecution, but I’m just guessing. You might consult Barone’s Almanac of American Politics for more information.

  2. I read in one news story that, off the record, the CIA people prefer Hastings to Jane Harmon, the person whom Pelosi is passing over, based on his work on the Intelligence Committee over the last several years. He is probably not a stupid person, even if in the past he has done corrupt things, for which he has already been punished.

  3. I once heard him being interviewed on the radio by Randi Rhodes, perhaps during Clinton’s impeachment. He came across as being strongly partisan but he is obviously an intelligent person. I wouldn’t appoint him committee chairman but for all I know he would perform well if he were appointed. We may get a chance to find out.

  4. BTW, Lex, there’s more than one way to interpret the comments you cite about CIA people’s preferences. It’s conceivable that, if the comments are true, they reflect a willingness by Hastings to assist CIA efforts to undermine the Administration’s policies. If that’s true it bodes very ill for a Hastings chairmanship.

  5. Perhaps because I’m from the midwest (which may be red but voters tend to be independent & parties not terribly strong), but I am uneasy with elections that are that one-sided. In some areas primaries are the real elections – and that may be going on in Jefferson’s district.

    That Jefferson might mean less oversight – for whatever good or ill – seems to be Jonathan’s point, reinforced by Novak: “Senior CIA officials consider Harman a prima donna and say they dread the thought of dealing with her as chairman. They would much prefer Hastings, finding him consistently cooperative.” Hard working is a description I generally find attractive.

  6. Folks should understand that because of the Voters Rights Act there are forced segregated election districts in the South. Areas with large black populations are segregated out of white areas purposely to elect black Representatives. Mel Watts district in North Carolina famously at one point simply followed the centerline of I-85. Alcee Hastings district is another of these segregated districts.

    Corrine Brown in Florida’s 3rd district (Jacksonville to Orlando) is another of these representatives. She regularly campaigns on the slogan “Corrine Delivers” – meaning that she unabashedly delivers pork to her district. She’s reelected by wide margins.

    These districts are in part responsible for the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. Earlier in the 90s, Republicans in the state houses joined forces with African American Democrats to further segregate these districts. The African Americans felt they gained because they ensured black Representatives. The Republicans felt they gained because they segregated a lot of Democrats into a few districts, leaving the other districts to vote Republican.

    As has been true for my lifetime, the Democrats promote segregation.

  7. I don’t find his margins especially suspicious; other Democrats do even better in the district. (Gore got 80 percent in the district in 2000, and even Kerry got 76 percent in 2004.)

    BUT, it is also the fact that southern Florida is infamous for vote fraud. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that his district has a much higher percentage of fraudulent votes than the average, even for Florida.

    (I apologize for being vague, but I simply don’t know of any good estimates of the level of fraudulent votes in the United States, though it is clear that they are a significant problems in some areas. And if anyone has a spare million dollars or so, I’d be glad to take a crack at studying the question. If I had to guess, I would say that ar least 1 percent of the votes cast in Hastings’ district are illegal. But that’s just a guess.)

  8. Thanks, Jim Miller, as always your observation is helpful & your position has more precision & thought than my doubts.

    My misgivings came from an uneasiness when any group votes in such a monolithic way. This hardly seems the goal of our founders who expected some compromising & understanding of various points of view before the election as well as after. And it often reflects a district that thinks more in feudal terms and less in those of self-reliant independence. Of course, gerrymandering the congressional districts has reinforced that tendency to group think & identity politics.

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