Florida 22nd District
The barrier islands of Florida’s Gold Coast have been developed in spasms of land-speculation frenzy, not just as vacation places and retirement homes but as embodiments of dreams and fantasies. Consider Palm Beach, the great beach resort of the 1920s, where rich WASPs would abandon their snow-covered Tudor or Georgian mansions to live in Addison Mizner’s pseudo-Mediterranean confections. Or Boca Raton, where Mizner built the Boca Raton Hotel in 1926. Or Fort Lauderdale, a tiny town when Clyde Beatty brought his circus there for the winter in the 1930s (locals complained about the roaring lions). Back in the 1950s, many of these beachfront communities were “restricted,” which meant no Jews were allowed. Starting in the 1970s, high-rise condominiums sprouted up and down the Atlantic coast of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Today, they are home to many Jewish retirees from New York and the Northeast generally. But there are also working-age people here, and plans to attract more. Florida and Palm Beach County have subsidized the Scripps Research Institute’s new center in Jupiter, in hopes of attracting biotechnology businesses.
2008 Presidential Vote
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In recent years, the old town centers have been revived. Palm Beach remains, as it has been since the 1920s, the precinct of the very rich. Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has his South Florida headquarters there, and it was the favorite playground of swindler Bernard Madoff—and many of his now unhappy clients. Boca Raton now sports the stylish Mizner Park, a collection of upscale stores. Downtown Fort Lauderdale, separated from the beach by miles of canals, is the site of new condominiums, the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, the Museum of Discovery and Space, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
The 22nd Congressional District of Florida covers most of the Atlantic oceanfront in Palm Beach and Broward counties, from Jupiter in Palm Beach County to Fort Lauderdale in Broward County. It is rarely more than a few miles wide, and in some places it is not much wider than the barrier islands separated from the mainland by the Indian River and Lake Worth. But it also has jagged salients that extend several miles inland. The district, a testament to the advances made in redistricting software, was drawn by Republicans in an attempt to provide a safe seat for Republican Rep. Clay Shaw after he barely won re-election in 2000. They removed the Miami-Dade County portion of the district and heavily Democratic Hollywood in Broward County, and they brought in Republican precincts in Plantation and Coral Springs. The resulting district is affluent and elderly, with a large Jewish population that’s politically very active in condominium groups. But the intentions of the mapmakers, here as elsewhere, were defeated by changing demographics and changing attitudes. The 22nd District has given Democratic nominees at least 52% of the vote in the last three presidential elections, and in 2006 it ousted Shaw.