Florida Republicans will never been accused of going too hard to defend Black voting rights, but right now there’s a split between the state’s Republican governor and its GOP-led legislature over whether or not to keep a heavily Black congressional district in the state.
The rift was left after last week, Florida’s Supreme Court declined to rule on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to split Florida’s 5th Congressional district apart in a way that would divide its black population, almost ensuring his party’s control of the new districts. The 5th district is currently represented by Rep. Al Lawson, who is Black and a Democrat, and 46 percent, the district’s Black population outnumbers every other racial group.
The court’s decision last week leaves DeSantis to fight it out with Florida’s legislature, which proposed keeping the district as-is under their redistricting plan after the 2020 census. The fight in some ways mirrors what’s happening in other states where legislatures and activists are battling over voting maps largely along racial and party lines. The distinction this time is that Florida’s disagreement is between members of the same party, which already holds a majority of the state’s seats in Congress and in the state legislature.
From NBC News
The battle lines were drawn last month when DeSantis, who is seeking re-election this year and is widely thought to be considering a 2024 run for president, injected himself into redistricting plans. He took the unorthodox step of proposing his own map even though state Senate Republicans had already released one that would essentially preserve the balance of political power, with 16 Republican-leaning and 12 Democratic-leaning congressional seats.
DeSantis’ map would add two more seats to the GOP column and subtract two from Democrats, according to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which gave the map an “F” in its redistricting report card. The state Senate map, meanwhile, earned a “B.”
DeSantis’ plan is similar to one hatched in Tennessee in which the legislature split a congressional district centered on Nashville into three parts, each majority-white and Republican leaning. The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow that map to stand.