Florida Rep. Allen West, Tea Party darling and one of two African-American Republicans in the House of Representatives, has been on the job for just a few months, but already two Democrats have announced that they will challenge him in 2012.
West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel on Monday declared her intention to run against West, and political novice Patrick Murphy, a 28-year-old accountant, made his announcement last week. Frankel ran against another Black lawmaker in 1992, Rep. Alcee Hastings, but lost in a bitter primary runoff. Frankel says her focus will be on jobs.
“Allen West’s record’s going to speak for itself,” Frankel said in a television interview. “I believe the focus needs to be not on talk radio. The focus needs to be on working people—on people paying their mortgages, on people getting jobs—and that should be the focus of Mr. West and the rest of Congress.”
West won his seat with 54.4 percent of the vote last November, but his district could change dramatically once it is redrawn to reflect the population shifts that have taken place in the past 10 years. He says he’s not focused on campaigning right now. “My focus is representing the constituents of the 22nd Congressional District. There is a time and place for politics. I am focused on representing the constituents and building a brighter future for our children,” he said.
But maybe it should be.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ senior political analyst, David Bositis, told BET that West is definitely looking vulnerable. According to the state’s 2010 Census, the Black, Hispanic and non-Black Hispanic population increased by 28 percent, 57 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively.
“Given that all of the population growth came from Blacks and Hispanics, it won’t be possible for Republicans to redistrict in such a way that they’re going to improve their prospects,” Bositis said. “If anything, the district may become more Democratic after it’s redrawn.”
(Photo: David Silverman/Getty Images)