In February, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis submitted a congressional map that would seek to break up north Florida’s lone Black district and hurt Democratic Rep. Al Lawson. At the time, Florida’s Supreme Court refused to give Desantis an advisory opinion on whether the district was protected under Florida’s voter-approved standards.
On Monday, Republican lawmakers unusually deferred to the governor to draw a new Congressional map. Desantis had previously vetoed maps that gave Republicans less of an advantage with the midterm elections coming. According to Politico, the new proposal would create 20 Republican seats and eight Democratic ones–a net gain of additional four seats this year for Republicans.
This would also dissolve the state’s 5th Congressional District into several Republican districts and water down the African American voting power in the district representative by Senate candidate Val Demings of Orlando. Chair of the Florida Democratic Party Manny Diaz proclaims that the changes will immediately be challenged in court if this map is adopted.
“It is appalling, but not surprising, that the Republican Legislature has abdicated its constitutional duty to draft and pass congressional maps to the governor,” Diaz said in a statement. “As proven by the proposed map released today, Gov. DeSantis is hell-bent on eliminating congressional seats where Florida’s minority communities have the ability to elect representatives of their choice and he is imposing his own partisan political preferences on Florida’s congressional map.”
Rep. Al Lawson also critiqued these sudden moves.
“He’s always said that’s what he wanted to do,” Lawson said in a phone interview. “I know pretty much his agenda is that he wants all of north Florida to be Republican. None of these communities of interest have had any hearings on his plan. It’s really a major concern for minorities all over north Florida.”
The Legislature will open a special session on Tuesday to approve congressional maps in the once-a-decade redistricting process following the federal census. Political science professor at the University of Florida Daniel Smith believes Desantis wants lawsuits because the map “is clearly being drawn to challenge the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court has not struck down,”