Former Trump Official Says GOP’s Focus Is on Gaming the System to Win Midterms

A former Trump administration official thinks he has the best solution for flipping Congress to Republican control in the 2022 midterm elections — not by promoting good candidates or ideas that appeal to voters, but by redrawing congressional maps in GOP-leaning states through extreme partisan gerrymandering.

Carlos Trujillo, who worked in the Trump White House and is also a former Florida lawmaker, told Axios this week that he believes his home state is the key to Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives in next year’s elections.

“Whoever controls the U.S. House could come through Florida — and I think it will come through Florida,” he said.

Trujillo admits he’s taking a page from Democrats in 2018, when they won control of the House. While Democrats did have a national strategy to win, they also put heavy focus on winning districts in California they hadn’t focused on before, gaining seven new seats in the state on their way to netting 40 congressional seats across the country overall that year.

The former Trump administration official thinks that Republicans can do the same in 2022 — but rather than trying to win additional seats the traditional way (for instance, campaigning against an opponent by offering better ideas on how to govern), Trujillo says his plan relies on redrawing the congressional maps in Florida in order to strengthen Republicans’ prospects for maintaining and gaining wins in that state.

Trujillo, who has helped Republicans redraw districts in the past, noted that the Florida Supreme Court ruled against the party’s gerrymandered maps last decade for being too partisan, but that the court has since shifted in a more conservative direction.

“The Supreme Court has completely turned over in Florida over the last 10 years. 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,” he explained.

Trujillo’s statements are a blatant admission that the Republican Party is set to use the power of redistricting to help them win control of Congress, rather than relying on the democratic principle of courting voters to their cause in 2022.

Indeed, largely because many state legislatures have already been gerrymandered, Republicans are set to control the redrawing of 18 states’ congressional maps, while Democrats will only have control of seven states’ maps. And as a report from RepresentUs, a nonpartisan organization that fights against political corruption, demonstrates, 35 states are at risk of having their redistricting process “rigged” with over half the country deemed to be at “extreme” risk of that happening.

The manipulation of political maps that Trujillo has spelled out and other Republicans likely plan to employ could be reduced substantially through federal legislation currently being considered by Congress.

The For the People Act, which contains a number of election reforms, includes provisions on how congressional maps are to be redrawn in state legislatures in accordance with the decennial census. Rather than allowing legislatures controlled by one party or the other determine how maps are crafted, the bill would require states to come up with a nonpartisan form of congressional map-drawing (similar to the Iowa model), limiting the effect that either political party can have in producing outcomes that are more beneficial to themselves rather than to the voters they are supposed to be representing.

The For the People Act has already passed the House of Representatives, but faces an uphill battle at passage in the evenly divided Senate.