Sen. Ray Rodrigues, the Senate Reapportionment Committee Chair, selected the base maps his committee will consider Thursday at a critical meeting.
Rodrigues filed two shell bills ahead of Session that will ultimately hold the final Senate and congressional maps crafted by the Senate. Amendments on Thursday will reflect the result of weeks of pre-Session work.
For the congressional map, Rodrigues chose draft map S 8040. He selected S 8046 as a base Senate map. Both come from a third round of draft maps produced by committee staff. The Senate Congressional Reapportionment Subcommittee and Senate Legislative Reapportionment Subcommittee on Monday narrowed proposals down to two recommended choices for Rodrigues to choose from.
In a memo to all senators, Rodrigues said he chose maps he believes “most consistently adhere to the directives issued to staff by the full committee.” Those directions mostly deal with minority voting rights protections in the federal Voting Rights Act and prohibitions against special interest interference in the Fair Districts amendment to the Florida Constitution.
The draft Senate map selection seemed of particular note, as the legislative subcommittee on Monday considered offering just one draft map suggestion. That would have been S 8050, the alternative recommendation to what Rodrigues selected as a base map. The big difference between the maps involved having an effective minority-controlled district in South Florida as opposed to a true majority-minority district.
The final map ultimately approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis will govern elections for all 40 Florida Senate seats later this year.
As drafted, there is still significant potential for shakeups. Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, has already indicated she will run in Senate District 34 — a jurisdiction represented now by Sen. Gary Farmer, a Lighthouse Point Democrat — rather than Senate District 29. The proposed map actually puts Polsky’s current home in the new Senate District 31, with Sen. Lori Berman, a Delray Beach Democrat.
The districts, unlike the alternative sent to Rodrigues, would place Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book in the same district as Rosalind Osgood, who won a primary on Tuesday to represent Senate District 33 following Sen. Perry Thurston‘s resignation to run for Congress.
The map selected by Rodrigues puts Farmer in Senate District 38, which is represented now by Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Miami Democrat. Pizzo’s candidate address with the Division of Elections now lies in the proposed Senate District 37, which is represented by Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia; notably that appears to be a commercial address and Pizzo’s address is exempt as he is a former prosecutor. Garcia ends up in Senate District 40, where there is no candidate currently filed.
And of note, Republicans Sens. Dennis Baxley of Ocala and Keith Perry of Gainesville end up in the same district.
In other words, expect quite a game of political dominoes.
More national attention has fallen on the congressional map. The only difference between the recommended drafts from the subcommittee involved boundaries for three Orlando area congressional seats, two of which are expected to be open in November.
This map sets the northern border for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, represented by Kissimmee Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto. The draft uses the Bee Line Expressway to divide the district from Florida’s 10th Congressional District, where U.S. Rep. Val Demings is departing to run for Senate. Further east, it uses Curry Ford Road and State Road 408 primarily to mark a division with Florida’s 7th Congressional District, which is represented by retiring U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy.
While Rodrigues’ choice of base maps brings some focus to what the maps will look like, it’s not a final say. Senators can offer amendments to the maps. Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, has said she expects to file amendments to the Senate map to pull proposed Northeast Florida districts from prior drafts she found preferable.
Sen. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, has also proposed his own congressional map that most notably kept Florida’s 14th Congressional District — now represented by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor — located entirely within Hillsborough County. The map found little traction at the subcommittee level where Sen. Jennifer Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican and subcommittee chair, questioned the effect on Florida’s 15th Congressional District. But it’s likely Rouson will raise the issue again.
Notably, the map emerging from the Senate would have 16 districts won by Republican Donald Trump and 12 won by Democrat Joe Biden, based on how districts voted in the last presidential election. Florida’s congressional delegation now has 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats.
While the Senate plan that emerged from the upper chamber will most likely be what advances, the House will also draw its own congressional map and the chambers will have to come together on final legislation.