Sen. Darryl Rouson has offered an alternative congressional map for lawmakers to consider in an upcoming Special Session.
This is the second time the St. Petersburg Democrat offered up alternative cartography. Again, his plan (S 8062) looks at a different strategy dividing Tampa Bay from that taken by legislative staff. But, it’s closer to the mapping approved in the regular Legislative Session by lawmakers than a new submission from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Rouson plan would divide his home Pinellas County in a way identical to the primary map (H 8019) approved by the Legislature. It preserves Florida’s 13th Congressional District, held now by Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is not seeking re-election to run for Governor.
DeSantis vetoed the Legislature’s previous map, and has now offered a new plan that would radically change that seat. While the open district was expected to be one of the most evenly divided battlegrounds in Florida heading into the election cycle, the DeSantis plan pushes Democratic areas into a Tampa Bay-crossing district where Hillsborough-based Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is expected to run.
But while Rouson’s plan follows the direction of legislative mapmakers in Pinellas, the rest of west Central Florida would appear different than any official plan under consideration during the last several months.
Rouson wants Castor’s seat, Florida’s 14th Congressional District, completely in Hillsborough County. Notably, that’s similar to the Legislature’s plan but not to one with broader bipartisan support that was approved by the Senate in January (S 8060). Rouson was one of that plan’s few critics, largely because the proposal gave part of Pinellas County to Castor, and he cast a vote against the map when it was considered by the Senate Reapportionment Committee.
But like the Senate plan, Rouson wants a new district apportioned to Florida after the 2020 Census to land in northeast Hillsborough. With Castor’s district set further east than the Senate plan, Rouson finds extra population in Polk County.
There’s shifts in surrounding districts as a result of the changes in Hillsborough. The map for the most part looks like the Senate-passed plan otherwise. He does, however, favor a change to two South Florida districts, positioning Florida’s 21st Congressional District as an inland district instead of a coastal one, and stretching Florida’s 22nd Congressional District north to south to cover a much longer section of coast. The Senate, House and Governor plans all stack the two districts in the region, much like they appear today.
But it’s unclear the proposal will be considered at all during the Special Session that begins Tuesday. His plan retains minority seats in North and Central Florida that DeSantis has publicly objected to and which he cited when he vetoed the Legislature’s maps. Republican leaders in the Senate have signaled they will support the Governor’s map.R