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Former Trump official using Florida-focused redistricting group to try to flip House

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.

What to watch at the Olympics today: Gymnastics, golf, 3x3 basketball, swimming

5 events to watch today...

  • 🤸‍♀️ Men’s gymnastics: Team USA’s Sam Mikulak and Brody Malone compete in the individual all-around final. Coverage starts at 6:15 a.m. on Peacock (watch the replay at 8 p.m. ET on NBC)
  • 🏀 3x3 Basketball: The women’s gold medal game between the U.S. and Russia starts at 8:55 a.m. ET on USA Network. Russia and Latvia will play in the men’s final at 9:25 a.m. ET.
  • 🏌️ Men’s golf: Round one tees off at 6:30 p.m. ET on the Golf Channel or stream on nbcolympics.com.
  • 🏊 Swimming: Men’s 800m freestyle, 200m breaststroke and 100m freestyle finals and women’s 200m butterfly final. Coverage starts at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.
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National parks "drowning in tourists"

Data: National Park Service; note: Gateway National Recreation Area is excluded due to missing data in 2021. Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

National Parks across the U.S. are overflowing with a post-pandemic crush of tourists, leading to increased issues with congestion, traffic jams, user experience, strain on staff and increased damage to the parks.

Why it matters: Some are seeing such a record number they're being forced to limit, and even close, access to certain areas to avoid the danger of eroding the land. The result, ultimately, could change the way Americans interact with the parks going forward.

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Facebook's next chapter: Build the "metaverse"

Facebook's "next chapter," Mark Zuckerberg says, is to be prime builder of "the metaverse" — an open, broadly distributed, 3D dimension online where, he says, we will all conduct much of our work and personal lives.

The big picture: Zuckerberg admits Facebook will only be one of many companies building this next-generation model of today's internet — but he also intends Facebook to lead the pack.

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CDC asks the vaccinated to help save the unvaccinated from themselves

The Biden administration is essentially asking vaccinated Americans to help save the unvaccinated from themselves.

The big picture: America's "pandemic of the unvaccinated" has gotten bad enough that vaccine mandates are starting to catch on, and masks are coming back — in some cases, even for the vaccinated.

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Least persuadable unvaccinated Americans are largely white and Republican

Data: Axios-Ipsos Poll; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The most hardcore opponents of coronavirus vaccination — the group who say they'll never get one — tend to be older, whiter and more Republican than the unvaccinated Americans who are still persuadable, according to an analysis of our Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: As the Delta variant triggers more COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, mostly among the unvaccinated, the Biden administration and even some high-profile GOP political and media figures are trying to figure out how to nudge the country's vaccination rate higher.

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Female Olympians push back against double standard in uniforms

Female Olympians in Tokyo are rejecting the uniforms that have long defined their sports, highlighting a double standard that exists how women dress in competition vs. men.

Driving the news: During their qualifying round Sunday, Germany's women's gymnastics team wore full-length unitards, eschewing the conventional leg-barring leotards worn by most female gymnasts.

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Simone Biles won't defend Olympic title at gymnastics all-around final in Tokyo

U.S. gymnastics great Simone Biles won't defend her Olympic title in the upcoming all-around final as she continues to focus on her mental health, USA Gymnastics announced Wednesday.

After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many. pic.twitter.com/6ILdtSQF7o

— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) July 28, 2021

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

DOJ declines to defend Mo Brooks in Eric Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit

The Department of Justice declined late Tuesday to represent Rep. Mo Brooks in a civil lawsuit against the Georgia congressman concerning the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Brooks had argued he should have immunity in the suit, filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) against him, former President Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the insurrection. He said he was acting as a government employee when he spoke at a rally before the insurrection.

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