In a political environment where party affiliation matters less with every passing day, it’s a question worth pondering, especially if you’re a wonk – or a betting person.
CD18, which covers Martin, St. Lucie and northern Palm Beach counties, is one of the few districts that’s likely to be unaffected by the new maps now being drawn in Tallahassee by order of the state supreme court, so it’s safe to take a closer look at it.
There are “black” seats (e.g. Alcee Hastings, Corinne Brown) and “Hispanic” seats (e.g. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen), so why not an Irish seat? As the Pope might say, who are we to judge?
Since 1994, CD18 has had four representatives, all of whom have Irish surnames. Here’s the roster: Mark Foley (1995-2006); Tim Mahoney (2006-2008); Tom Rooney (2009-2012); Patrick Murphy (2013-present), who is running for the U.S. Senate. These four were preceded by Tom Lewis (1983-94), who was one of the finest legislators ever to serve Florida. He wasn’t Irish, but he was Welsh, which is pretty close.
Among the gaggle of candidates who have so far either announced for the seat being vacated by Congressman Murphy or are rumored to be considering it, only one has an Irish-ish last name.
Here’s a list of those who have announced as of this writing. Ds: Jonathan Chane, Melissa McKinlay, Priscilla Taylor, John (Juan) Xuna. Rs: Carl Domino, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast, Tod Mowery, Rebecca Negron, Noelle Nikpour, Paul Spain, Carla Spalding.
Because Florida eliminated the second (runoff) primary some years ago, it takes only a plurality to win a partisan primary. In an eight-way contest, it’s therefore not unimaginable that 20 percent would be enough to get the nom, so a few cloverleafs here and a little Gaelic charm there could make a lot of difference.
On the other hand, maybe it’s a Catholic thing. According to the most recent credible data available, Catholics were #1 among religious affiliations in all three counties in CD18 – although by only a frog-hair in St. Lucie, leading Evangelicals by a single point.
On the other other hand though, “None” ranked higher than Catholic, and by big margins, across the board: 58.4% in Martin; 63.4% in Palm Beach; and 71% in St. Lucie. So maybe the atheist in the race has a chance after all…