The Florida Senate has passed a map (P 0109) submitted by Gov. Ron DeSantis on a 24-15 vote. The chamber voted along party lines, with Democrats expressing concerns the cartography dismantles two Black districts and could maximize Republican performance.
The move came during a Special Session called after DeSantis vetoed prior maps passed by the Legislature in March. Alex Kelly, DeSantis’ Deputy Chief of Staff, submitted a new map last week and presented it to lawmakers Tuesday.
That’s a rapid conclusion to a process launched last fall. Florida is one of the last three states that has yet to pass a congressional map to be in effect for the 2022 midterms.
Democrats howled about the diminishment in minority voting power, arguing the changes directly conflict with the Fair Districts amendment passed by Florida voters in 2010.
Sen. Randolph Bracy, an Ocoee Democrat now running for Congress, slammed the cartography and the Legislature for caving to the Governor.
“I’d rather we just say the Governor holds all the cards,” Bracy said. “He’s threatened to primary you in your party.”
That seemed a direct reference to the fact DeSantis has yet to endorse Senate President Wilton Simpson’s candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner. Simpson called for Bracy and other Senators to stick to the substance of the bill.
Senate analysts say the current 27-district congressional map has four Black performing seats. But the Governor’s map would dismantle Florida’s 5th and 10th Congressional Districts.
DeSantis has argued it violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause to draw districts in a racially motivated fashion.
Sen. Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican, said it’s a fair question. He noted this is only the second redistricting cycle since Floridians passed the Fair Districts amendment, which requires preservation of minority communities’ ability to elect a Representative of their choice.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to do in the state of Florida,” said Burgess, who called the redistricting process transparent.
If the maps produce answers to legal questions regarding the conflict between state and federal law, that’s a good thing, Burgess suggested, because it will guide redistricting a decade from now.
A lawsuit against the state over redistricting has already been filed in federal court asking judges to implement their own map based on the tension between the Legislature and the Governor over a previous map. But legal experts suggest if the Governor signs a map approved by the Legislature this week, it likely will be in place for the 2022 elections.
Regardless, Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, said this is the map that all have agreed on and there is little else that can be said. She preferred a map passed by the Senate (S 8060), but this is the one the passes muster with the House and with the Governor.
“I liked our Senate map,” she said. “I like it when everyone does things my way. That’s typically the way I am. Unfortunately, we all have to work together in this process.”
Democrats say there are concerns beyond racial diminishment. Outside analyses show the map produces 20 congressional districts where Republican Donald Trump won the Presidential Election in 2020, and just eight where Democrat Joe Biden won. Trump won Florida by three percentage points.
“If we were truly doing a race-neutral map, we’d start in the Panhandle and have a series of squares and go down the state,” said Sen. Lori Berman, a Delray Beach Democrat. “We’re not doing that. We’re doing a gerrymandered map based on the Governor’s directions.”
Candidates for Congress, including incumbents, have waited anxiously for a map to be in place. This one includes radical differences, at least outside South Florida, for districts through the state, including seats held by Republicans now.
April 20, 2022 at 1:45 pm
This is going to piss off the Lakelanders whose city is split. A quick glance, the big Amazon logistics center and associated Lakeland Linder airport and Publix HQ are located in the new tri-county district. Hopefully, the new congressman will be able to serve the needs of their constituents efficiently over the span of three counties. The needs of Zephyrhills are much different than the needs of the businesses expanding into Lakeland. Will the district lean democrat based on the population in Hillsborough County? If enough of the oldies in west Lakeland, Plant City and up in Pasco vote – it will be Republican. The good news for the east Lakeland district is that Davenport, Winter Haven and Reunion move into a safe Republican district with east Lakeland.
Also, quickly looking at the map, Disney World continues to be split into two districts – but the vast majority of Disney World will now be in a heavily Republican district. Poor Disney…they will have to work with a Republican member of Congress – unlike what they don’t have to do back in Burbank.
The Villages and most of Disney World in the same district!
Mickey’s gonna be a mad mouse!
Stitch will be fine – he likes The Villages!
Can’t wait for the media to report about that nugget. When is Reedy Creek’s going away party?
April 20, 2022 at 2:06 pm
Really Lori, Desantis’ map is close to squares compared to the old leftist racist map. Thank God Republicans are race neutral and represent all Floridians and not just minorities only. Why can’t democrats be race neutral too. There is no reason to have hatred eating your heart out.
April 20, 2022 at 11:17 pm
“Race neutral”? In a first-past-the-post election system, that’s ceding power to white people, neutering any say of minorities.
Minorities being able to elect people who represent them was a basic part of the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Movement.
…but we all know the Republican Party is violently opposed to both of those things now. “Race-neutral” is effectively code for pro-white.
April 20, 2022 at 11:12 pm
Evidence of Republicans being racist and corrupt example #965,733,986,6492
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