Weatherford says West not being targeted by Legislatureby John Kennedy | January 30th, 2012
House redistricting maps slated for a vote this week put a number of incumbent Republicans in tough spots, including U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation.
But the chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, fired off a statement Monday refuting lingering speculation that West was being singled out.
In both the House and Senate congressional plans, West loses a Republican-leaning section of his district in northern Palm Beach County to the seat now held by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta.
Rooney’s brother, Patrick, is a Republican state representative from West Palm Beach. The Rooney family’s ownership of Palm Beach Kennel Club also has positioned them as political players in Tallahassee for decades.
“There are rumors that the Florida Legislature has targeted Congressman Allen West,” Weatherford said Monday. “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,” Weatherford said, pointing out that the redistricting effort is guided by a range of state and federal standards.
West apparently doesn’t feel he’s getting the short end of the stick from state lawmakers. West’s chief of staff, Jonathan Blyth, told the Post last month his boss is taking a long view of the redistricting proposals, which may undergo further changes following eventual court reviews.
“This is the second minute of the first round of a boxing match,” Blyth said, when the House congressional maps surfaced and bore a strong resemblance to those out of the Senate.
While West loses a key piece of Palm Beach County, the redistricting plans push him deeper into Democratic-leaning Broward County.
Rooney’s district is reduced from a rambling eight counties to a more manageable four, under both the House and Senate proposals. But while still Republican-leaning, Rooney’s district doesn’t clearly favor the GOP, since it also acquires large portions of St. Lucie County that backed Barack Obama in 2008.