New contender in yet-to-be-finalized House district

5th congressional district likely to stretch from Jacksonville to Tallahassee

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Days after a Leon County judge passed his ruling on new congressional districts up to the Florida Supreme Court, a Jacksonville woman announces she'll run against incumbent Democrat Rep. Corrine Brown and two Republicans in a redrawn 5th Congressional District.

In July, the Supreme Court threw out the current congressional districts, saying they violated voter-approved fair district standards.

The Florida House and Senate failed to agree on a new map during a special session in August, so Circuit Judge Terry Lewis held a trial to decide on a redistricting map. On Friday, he approved a map that changes eight of Florida's 27 congressional districts -- the same map originally proposed by a consortium of led by the League of Women Voters. That map is waiting approval by the Supreme Court.

Political experts said most of the new districts should help Democrats pick up more seats, but changing northeast Florida's 5th district from a north-south to east-west configuration could make it a challenge for Brown seeking her 12th term next year.

"It's a win for Democrats," UNF political science professor Michael Bender said. "There's a couple of districts that are different then, say, the Florida House or the Florida Senate maps."

At an event in Jacksonville Monday, Brown said she wasn't surprised by the latest ruling. She believes some groups want to disenfranchise African-American voters.

"I mean it is very clear," Brown said. "They knew when they drew the district drawing it through that north configuration with 18 prisons that it would not produce an African-American."

Brown has attempted to challenge the new district boundaries in court, but was told the new map couldn't be challenged until it becomes law.

LaShonda Holloway
LaShonda Holloway

Also in downtown Jacksonville Monday, LaShonda "LJ" Holloway (pictured) announced her candidacy for the District 5 seat. The Democrat said the new shape of the congressional doesn't change her campaign strategy.

"How I'm approaching that is the same way I approached it before Judge Lewis made a decision on Friday," Holloway said. "It is not about lines; it is about people. I want to put people over politics and over partisanship."

Once the congressional map is approved, it will be used in the 2016 election.

In addition to Brown and Holloway, two other candidates have already filed to run in the 5th Congressional District: Thuy Lowe, of Sorrento, and Glo Smith, of Fleming Island, both Republicans.

There is another redistricting battle brewing over the Florida Senate boundaries. A special legislative session is scheduled to address that next month.