House Democrats thrashed a draft congressional map proposed Sunday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“The Governor rolled out his own maps, unrequested, on Martin Luther King Day, that will probably end up leaving less African American representation in Congress,” said House Minority Leader Evan Jenne. “It is a map that shouldn’t even be considered under any circumstances.”
A statement released by the Governor’s office shortly afterward signaled dissatisfaction with the legislative redistricting so far.
“We have legal concerns with the congressional redistricting maps under consideration in the Legislature,” Newman said.
But Democrats objected to the map’s lack of minority access districts and the nature of the submission, which appeared to catch all parties by surprise.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever seen a Governor introduce a map, so it’s going to be interesting to see what unfolds,” said Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat.
The House Democratic Policy Chair sits on the House Redistricting Committee and raised several issues in a workshop last week regarding minority access districts.
Meanwhile, the map out of DeSantis’ office eliminates some longtime Black districts. Most notably, Florida’s 5th Congressional District, which spans from Tallahassee to Jacksonville and is represented now by Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, has no presence.
“What I’ve seen of it so far,” Driskell said, “it gives me concerns that it violates the Fair Districts amendments, that it violates constitutional requirements.”
The map also tilts significantly more Republican than a draft congressional map (S 8040) scheduled to hit the Senate floor on Wednesday. While the Senate map has 16 districts that went for Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 election, a new MCI Maps analysis of the Governor’s map shows it has 18 Trump districts.
Jenne suggested the Newman map could not withstand court scrutiny.
“Anything that violates the laws that we have in this country in terms of access for people of color and for minority communities needs to be protected,” he said. “Unfortunately, the Governor’s proposed congressional map goes in the complete opposite direction.”
But Driskell also acknowledged the submission of the maps adds a political complication to the already challenging process of defining political boundaries in as apolitical a fashion as possible.
“It really puts the legislative Republicans in a bind, if you ask me, because this is a Governor who seems so far to be able to get what he wants,” she said. “So if they were to support him in these maps, then are they supporting something that would be violative of the redistricting standards, which would ultimately aid and assist if these maps were challenged in court? Or do they push back on the Governor, which leads them to be cross with him and maybe in a worse position as they try to negotiate other legislation and priorities down the line?”
Many of the concerns raised by House Democratic leadership echoes criticism from lawmakers and election law experts since the map’s release.
“Just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis introduces an illegal redistricting map which destroys minority representation in Florida,” tweeted Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat, on Sunday.
And Marc Elias, a Democrat and lawyer who has challenged redistricting plans around the country, said his team would be ready to question the process that led to this map’s construction.
“I look forward to my team deposing (DeSantis) and his staff to fully understand the illegal partisan motivations of this map,” he tweeted.
Tristan Wood of Florida Politics contributed to this report.