Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Florida Republicans at odds over proposed congressional maps - Miami Eagle
November 28, 2022

Florida Republicans at odds over proposed congressional maps

Different congressional maps have been proposed in Florida’s redistricting process, appearing to set up a conflict between the Republican-led Senate and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

On Thursday, the Republican-led state Senate overwhelmingly passed its draft congressional maps, differing from those proposed by the governor’s office.

DeSantis’ general counsel Ryan Newman submitted his proposed congressional maps Sunday night, an unusual move, political pundits and opponents have suggested, in a year when DeSantis is running for reelection. Governors don’t typically propose redistricting maps, although they have the ability to veto them after they’re approved by state legislatures.

DeSantis’ map includes 18 districts that former President Donald Trump would have won in 2020 compared to the Senate’s 16. Florida now has 28 Congressional districts after picking up an additional one because of new Census data.

“We have submitted an alternative proposal, which we can support, that adheres to federal and state requirements and addresses our legal concerns, while working to increase district compactness, minimize county splits where feasible, and protect minority voting populations,” Newman said, according to a report published by The News Service of Florida.

The redistricting process began this year after Florida gained an additional congressional seat, the 28th Congressional District, due to population growth recorded by the 2020 Census. The maps proposed by the Republican majority in the Senate received support from Democrats and Republicans approved changes proposed by Democrats.

One change included a proposal made by Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, to move a congressional line that would’ve split Miami Gardens. Now, the South Florida city will stay in a single congressional district, after the Senate approved the request.

Jacksonville Democrat Audrey Gibson said before the vote to those in the chamber, “I want to thank you for a wonderful product, this is a great way to end the redistricting process.” Other members expressed their support before they approved the maps by a vote of 31 to 4.

The Senate also passed draft statehouse legislative maps by a vote of 34 to 3.

DeSantis’ office has said that the Senate maps don’t appear to comply with the “Fair Districts,” anti-gerrymandering provisions in the state constitution.

But the Fair Districts Coalition argues DeSantis’ maps don’t appear to comply. It sent a letter to Senate leaders asking them to remove DeSantis’ proposal from consideration. It had successfully sued over the 2012 redistricting results, which a judge overturned under the Fair Districts provisions.

Equal Ground Action Fund, an Orlando-based nonprofit that seeks to increase Black political power in Florida, said the governor’s proposal “is signaling to everyone that he wants a certain type of voter to have unfettered access to the ballot box and representation at the congressional level. Simply put, the governor is diluting Black votes and representation.”

The coalition says it’s “working to ensure that Florida’s 2022 district maps fully comply with the Fair Districts provisions of the Florida Constitution,” and is committed to encouraging public participation in the redistricting process. It’s published a range of resources on its site to explain the process and encourage citizens to become involved.

Before the Senate vote, Senate Reapportionment Chairman Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, said the chamber would “wait for the House to bring forth a map, and then the two of us are going to have to get together and reconcile and see what that looks like.”

During a floor discussion Wednesday, he said the Senate’s proposed maps follow court-approved standards under the Fair Districts provision. The provision was added to the state constitution after voters approved it in 2010. It prohibits lawmakers from drawing districts to benefit a particular party or candidate, among other conditions.

“Staff [of the Senate] was directed to draw districts without reviewing political data, other than where a review of political data was required to perform an appropriate functional analysis,” Rodrigues added. “Staff were directed to draw districts without the use of any residential information of any sitting member of the Florida Legislature or Congress and to draw the districts without regard to the preservation of existing district boundaries.”

The House hasn’t finalized its draft congressional or statehouse maps, but its Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee is slated to meet Friday to consider new House lines.

This article was originally posted on Florida Republicans at odds over proposed congressional maps