Democrats concerned over DeSantis drawing Florida’s congressional districts

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
ron desantis
Credit: WINK News

In an unusual move, Governor Ron DeSantis will be the one to map our state’s congressional districts. It comes two weeks after the governor vetoed a congressional map approved by the Florida Legislature.

There is concern over what a redistricting map drawn up by DeSantis and his administration would do to majority-black districts.

With a one-page memo, Republican leaders in the Florida Legislature gave the governor unprecedented power. DeSantis and his team will now redraw the new congressional map to their liking.

“The fact that the legislators basically are just throwing up their hands and saying, you know, hey, we don’t want to fight the governor. It’s an acknowledgment of how powerful the governor is,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political scientist at UCF.

The governor’s main issue with the legislature’s map was District 5 in north Florida. Right now, it stretches 200 miles from Jacksonville to Tallahassee.

Black Congressman Al Lawson, a Democrat, holds the seat for District 5. The governor claims District 5 violates federal law under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

“I mean, we are not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander that divides people by the color of their skin. That is wrong. That is not the way that we have governed in the state of Florida,” said DeSantis.

Democrats, like Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, believe it’s the governor who is wrong here. He believes that the fair district amendments in Florida prohibit diminishing minority votes.

“Governor DeSantis is demanding that we returned to Tallahassee to draw new congressional maps that are whiter congressional maps that eliminate black-majority congressional districts in Florida, which is illegal,” said Smith.

Smith blames his GOP colleagues for just giving in.

“It is the constitutional responsibility of the Florida Legislature to draw redistricting maps, not governor DeSantis. And so by surrendering this entire process to Governor DeSantis, to essentially just draw a map to his liking, the legislature is abdicating its constitutional responsibility on redistricting,” said Smith.

The governor and his team will present his proposed map to Florida lawmakers who will then vote on it during next week’s special session.

A political analyst said most constitutional scholars disagree with the governor that District 5 violates the 14th Amendment, but in the end, it will likely be the courts that decide.

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