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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A former Trump administration official is aiming to win the House back for Republicans with a new redistricting group focused on Florida that he's launching Monday.

Why it matters: With multiple competitive seats, an extra seat the state is receiving because of population growth and the once-a-decade redistricting process, "whoever controls the U.S. House could come through Florida — and I think it will come through Florida," Carlos Trujillo told Axios.

  • Just as Democrats looked to California to flip control of the House in the 2018 midterms, this group of Republicans sees Florida as the path back to House control in 2022.
  • Trujillo, a former Florida lawmaker, was President Trump's ambassador to the Organization of American States.

The big picture: Redistricting will be an important tool nationally for Republicans, because they control the process in 18 states, compared to Democrats' seven.

  • They also have complete control in Florida.

Last go-around, the Florida Supreme Court struck down GOP-drawn maps, ruling they had been gerrymandered to favor the party.

  • But "the Supreme Court has completely turned over in Florida over the last 10 years," Trujillo said. "So our hope is the maps that are presented — as long as they're in compliance with the state Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act — should be ratified by a nonactivist Florida Supreme Court."
  • Trujillo worked on the state House's redistricting committee during his freshman term in the legislature.
  • He told Axios he thinks his new nonprofit‚ called Democracy Now, will help provide a counterweight to groups like the League of Women Voters Florida, which sued last time over gerrymandered maps.

Districts to watch: Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist is no longer seeking reelection for Florida's 13th District, and fellow Democratic Reps. Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy are both considering forgoing reelection to run for statewide office.

  • With five current vacancies in the House, three flipped seats would be enough to split the chamber between Republicans and Democrats
  • "I think that's how competitive and how instrumental Florida will be. It's not only for the next election cycle, but really for the next 10 years in the country," Trujillo said.
  • Plus, Florida is receiving an additional seat from reapportionment, based on the results of the most recent census.

Between the lines: Besides helping legislators draw maps and redistricting advocacy, Democracy Now will focus on issues related to legal immigration and access to courts.

  • The group expects to announce its board in the coming weeks.

Go deeper

Biden administration offers aid to Florida schools defying DeSantis order

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (left) and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Photos: Joe Raedle and Win McNamee via Getty Images

The Biden administration is stepping in to offer financial assistance to Florida educators defying Gov. Ron DeSantis' law banning local K-12 mask mandates.

Why it matters: The battle over mask mandates in schools has been brewing for weeks. The Republican governor recently threatened to withhold pay from superintendents and school board members who go against his ban.

Two hot House races

Lauren Underwood (left) and Lucy McBath. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call (left), Alex Edelman/Pool/Getty Images

Democrats are prioritizing two competitive House seats held by Black women in their party — Reps. Lauren Underwood in Illinois and Lucy McBath in Georgia — as new census data shows how demographic shifts are shaping the midterms.

Why it matters: Each of these swing districts covers a majority white area that Republicans are eager to take back. Elections experts predict both districts could change dramatically — but in different ways — because of the 2020 count.

Aug 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy’s silent treatment

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has been maintaining a deliberate silence about how his caucus should approach the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Why it matters: It passed the Senate last week with the support of 19 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). But it faces an uncertain future in the House, with even Democrats divided over what they want.