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Florida GOP-led Senate stages clash with DeSantis over Congressional maps

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Florida GOP-led Senate stages clash with DeSantis over Congressional maps

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has submitted his own redistricting proposal to the Legislature. | Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate overwhelmingly passed its proposed Congressional map Thursday, a decision that puts the Republican-led chamber in place with a rare clash with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis surprised many last weekend by presenting his own Congressional cards that were more aggressively Republican-friendly. Florida won a new congressional seat in 2022 due to population growth, bringing its total to 28. The Senate approved a plan that gives Republicans 16 seats that former President Donald Trump would have won in 2020, while the governor is proposing a map with 18 Trump seats. .

The Senate is largely unified across party lines behind its version of the map. Democrats, even those with lingering concerns, praised the map drawn by Republican majorities as well as Senate Speaker Ray Rodrigues’ (R-Estero) handling of the process.

“I want to thank you for a wonderful product, it’s a great way to end the redistricting process,” said Jacksonville Democrat Audrey Gibson, whose comments were echoed by other members before senators approve the Congressional cards by a vote of 31 to 4.

The GOP-led Florida Legislature rarely breaks with the DeSantis, making Thursday’s Senate decision an unusual split on a key issue ahead of the 2022 midterms.

The biggest area of ​​criticism from Democrats centered on the new congressional headquarters just east of Tampa, along the state’s famous I-4 corridor. Democrats want Florida’s new seat to be drawn to allow Hispanic voters in central Florida to elect a candidate of their choice. The new seat has nearly 60% white voters of voting age, which critics say does not reflect the huge growth in the number of Hispanic voters in the region.

“Hopefully we can take a closer look at that number and carefully consider whether we should create another Hispanic access seat in central Florida,” Tampa Democrat Janet Cruz said.

The Senate is far ahead of the Florida House, which has yet to scale back its plans for congressional or state maps and lawmakers have yet to say when the full chamber will consider the maps.

The House has congressional maps more aligned with the Senate and some that more closely mirror the one proposed by DeSantis, making how the lower houses move forward one of the biggest remaining questions in the state redistricting process.

On Wednesday, Rodrigues pushed back on a claim from DeSantis’ office that the Senate maps included seats that contradict the Fair Districts, a set of anti-gerrymandering provisions in Florida’s constitution.

“I am convinced that this map will withstand a legal challenge,” Rodrigues reiterated in the Senate moments before the chamber adopted its draft maps.

Just before the Senate rose to adopt its maps, the Fair Districts Coalition, a group of left-leaning voter groups, sent a warning letter to Rodrigues and House Redistricting Leader Tom Leek ( R-Ormond Beach) about DeSantis. proposed card. The Fair Districts Coalition successfully sued under the Fair Districts provisions and overturned the state Senate and Congressional maps drawn as part of the 2012 redistricting process.

General Counsel Ryan Newman submitted the governor’s maps Sunday night, but POLITICO reported Wednesday that forms asking who helped Newman draw the maps were left blank. DeSantis’ office says they were “advised by an outside attorney” on the Congressional map but did not respond to POLITICO’s multiple requests for information about the outside law firm the administration hired.

“In reviewing the submission, we were surprised to find that the redistricting suggestion form submitted with the governor’s map does not provide vital information that anyone else is required to provide if they wish to submit a map,” reads- we in the letter. “Specifically, Florida citizens wishing to submit a card must provide a list with” the name of each person(s), group(s) or organization(s) [they] collaborated with on [their] . . . card submitted’. The governor and his staff failed to comply with this requirement.

The letter asks lawmakers to remove the map drawn by DeSantis from consideration and comes after several groups or individuals threatened to sue if the Legislature selects the DeSantis map. Among those threatening lawsuits are Democratic election rights attorney Marc Elias and Equal Ground Action Fund, an Orlando-based 501c4.

The Senate also passed without debate its draft versions of the new Florida Senate maps, which are also expected to gain House approval, as each chamber is unofficially tasked with drawing its own maps.

There were once again slight concerns about the representation of the state’s growing Hispanic population, but the chamber overwhelmingly approved Florida’s Senate maps on a 34-3 bipartisan vote.

Florida GOP-led Senate stages clash with DeSantis over Congressional maps

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