Redistricting Chair Tom Leek defends letting Governor draw congressional map

Tom Leek
'The compromise map will be part Governor's map and part legislative map.'

House Redistricting Committee Chair Tom Leek on Thursday defended the Legislature’s redistricting deferment to Gov, Ron DeSantis, saying it has “never been true” that mapping responsibility rests solely with the Legislature.

He also said he expects the Legislature to approve a map next week that would be “part Governor’s map, and part legislative map.”

Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican, appeared as a roundtable panelist along with Republican Sen. Tom Wright and Republican Reps. Webster Barnaby and Elizabeth Fetterhoff at a Volusia County delegation roundup forum hosted by the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce in Daytona Beach Thursday morning.

At first, Leek vowed — half-jokingly — that he would decline to talk about redistricting. The Legislature begins its Special Session Tuesday and he plays a central and sensitive role as Chair of the House Redistricting Committee.

But he didn’t back down entirely.

“I think this narrative that it (mapping) is the Legislature’s sole role has never been true,” Leek told the Volusia Chamber. “I think people mistake our obligation with our role. The Legislature’s obligation is to make sure the new maps come out. That’s their obligation. The Governor has always had a role in that process.”

Earlier this week, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson announced the Legislature would not try again to create a new congressional map. Instead, they said they would allow DeSantis to offer a map after the Governor, insisting on his own plan, vetoed the earlier map drawn up by the House.

DeSantis submitted his new map Wednesday and the Legislature is to consider it during a four-day process next week.

The move drew heavy criticism, including charges that the Legislature was abdicating its constitutional role — charges Leek set out to refute. Some Democrats are talking about boycotting a Special Session they say has been reduced to rubber-stamping the Governor’s plans.

Earlier Thursday morning, Leek said he believes up to a dozen of the 28 districts on the map the Governor proposed Wednesday were districts borrowed from the House’s earlier map, creating a hybrid cartograph.

“I expect we will have reached a final agreement with the Governor on what the map should look like,” Leek predicted of next week’s Special Session. “I think that the compromise map will be part Governor’s map and part legislative map, and we will be able to pass that.”

He also said he expects the state to be sued over the final product, saying that opponents’ legal challenges are inevitable, regardless of what is produced.

“But I expect from a legislative role, from a Governor’s role, we will be able to move these through next week and we will all lock arms,” Leek concluded.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


5 comments

  • PeterH

    April 14, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    Enabling a totalitarian Trumpster is easier than doing your legislative job.

  • martin

    April 14, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    Trump and DeSantis are both willing to confront Democrats and Rino Republicants HEAD ON! They’re the top America First patriots… by far. But DeSantis doesn’t have Trump’s drawing power. Americans love Trump’s America First concept of government that represents the public, not elites. That’s why he can go anywhere and draw TENS OF THOUSANDS of loyal supporters! Nobody else can do it. Not even DeSantis.

    • Patty

      April 14, 2022 at 4:36 pm

      Yeah, confront those democrats by subverting democracy and ensuring that they can’t get voted into office even if they try. Democracy is dead and it was the republican party that pulled the trigger. Enjoy living in the totalitarian government you created just to make sure the democrats don’t win. You people put party over liberty time and time again.

    • Easy to find

      April 14, 2022 at 5:15 pm

      Patriots are like air.

      I don’t even bother to notice they exist anymore

  • rass

    April 15, 2022 at 8:06 am

    The GOP has figured out that the cult of personality is a money maker, for sure. Grift on, y’all. Just give Rona a Sharpie and he can draw the future just like his idol Donald Trump did- yeah, see, that hurricane gonna hit Louisiana for sure. It’s a sad tribute to our democracy. Too bad the Florida Legislative “leadership” didn’t capitulate to Rona sooner so we taxpayer’s didn’t have to piss away money on a special session. But I guess it’s more dramatic to pass maps, let our “tough” Governor veto them, go on Fox Entertainment TV and let prospective voters know how powerful he is! OMG, why, he’s almost as powerful as Hitler! He should be our President, all hail Rona. Pathetic Losers call these grifters “patriotic” – they are only in it for themselves, Duh.

Comments are closed.


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