Tom Leek, Ray Rodrigues say Florida’s congressional map should come from the Legislature
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/08/22-Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, speaks in favor of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill prior to the Senate approving it, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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A Special Session is scheduled for April following the Governor's veto.

As the Legislature heads back to Tallahassee for a Special Session, the lawmakers leading each chamber’s redistricting efforts share a mission: to pass maps that will be signed.

Both Sen. Ray Rodrigues and Rep. Tom Leek, respective chairs of the Senate Reapportionment Committee and House Redistricting Committee, say it’s important for the Legislature to produce a legal map of Florida’s 28 Congressional districts.

“It is imperative that Floridians, voters and candidates alike, have a congressional map solidly enacted before the upcoming election cycle,” said Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican, in a statement emailed to Florida Politics.

Of course, the legislative chairs believe they did pass a constitutional map on March 4. But Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday vetoed the congressional maps passed by the full Legislature. It’s a move the Governor telegraphed with a tweet he blasted out as Leek presented a controversial two-map plan on the House floor.

There’s a number of paths redistricting can take from here. But Rodrigues and Leek both want a Special Session scheduled from April 19 to 22 to produce the maps that will govern the 2022 election cycle.

The veto message from the Governor’s Office, drafted by General Counsel Ryan Newman, focused exclusively on two North Florida districts: Florida’s 4th and 5th Congressional Districts. DeSantis and members of his administration have argued that the current configuration of CD 5, represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, was racially gerrymandered in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Legislative leadership has held close to language in Florida’s Constitution, passed as part of the Fair Districts amendment in 2010, that prohibits the diminishment of minority communities’ ability to elect a candidate of their choice. Lawmakers ultimately passed a primary map (H 8019) that sought to address the Governor’s concern by creating a predominantly Black district contained in Duval County for CD 5, while the surrounding Nassau, Clay and St. Johns counties all fell within CD 4.

A final bill also included a backup map (H 8015) courts could implement that kept CD 5 largely intact. The Governor liked neither map.

Of note, Newman submitted two proposed maps on behalf of the Governor widely viewed as heavily favoring Republicans. Neither kept a configuration of Lawson’s district intact, and the final proposal (P 0094) also took radically different approaches in Tampa Bay and South Florida.

Yet Rodrigues said it’s noteworthy the veto message focused on the North Florida districts, saying the Legislature can “address those concerns specifically” when returning for the Special Session.

He also believed it’s essential lawmakers produce new maps during the Special Session that can both withstand court scrutiny and meet the Governor’s approval.

“My anticipation would be, we go in and make a good faith effort the House and Senate can agree upon and the Governor would be willing to accept,” Rodrigues said.

Looming over the process is the outcome of the 2012 redistricting in Florida, the first done under the Fair Districts guidelines. The Florida Supreme Court in 2015 tossed the map approved by the Legislature and replaced it with one drafted by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, plaintiffs who challenged the maps in court.

Leek said it’s critical a final congressional map be a product of the legislative process.

“That map should be drawn by Floridians’ elected representatives, not the courts or partisan interest groups — the Legislature takes this responsibility seriously,” he said. “I look forward to working with the Governor and our colleagues in the Senate during the announced Special Session to fulfill our once-in-a-decade responsibility of crafting congressional districts.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


4 comments

  • Matthew Lusk

    March 30, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    The democrats would continue the Mexican stand-off if they thought NO reps from Florida would make it to the Swamp. Al Lawson is selling out his own race to the banking cartel and open borders labor pool, not to mention he wants to make a national holiday to give homage to atheist Charles Darwin who thought blacks evolved from apes.

    • It just works

      March 30, 2022 at 1:28 pm

      “Would continue the Mexican standoff”

      I rather just get the Republican in the back.

      Strategy and practical should go hand in hand

  • He’s just mad

    March 30, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    Darwin: I was right and Republicans and covid Matthew

  • Charles Thompson

    April 2, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    Leek the RINO seems determined to help the Democrats win more seats in Congress. Shame!

Comments are closed.


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