A black congressman’s district would be disbanded under a map Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis submitted to state lawmakers on Wednesday ahead of a special session that was called after the governor vetoed maps that were given to him. had been sent by the GOP-dominated Legislature.
The legislature conceded control of the process to DeSantis, whose proposals would likely increase the number of Republican seats in Florida while making it harder for Democratic U.S. Representative Al Lawson to retain his seat in North Florida.
The current Lawson District extends from Jacksonville west to Tallahassee. Before submitting his map, DeSantis said he was not going to authorize a 200-mile (320 kilometer) district that would guarantee black voters to choose a black candidate.
“We’re not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander dividing people up based on the color of their skin. It’s wrong. This is not the way we governed in the state of Florida,” said DeSantis, who argued that a US Supreme Court opinion said districts could not be chosen with race as the main factor.
Lawson criticized DeSantis’ approach.
“He always said that was what he wanted to do,” Lawson said in a phone interview. “I pretty much know his agenda is that he wants all of North Florida to be Republicans. None of these communities of interest had a hearing on their plan. This is truly a major concern for minorities in North Florida.
The Legislative Assembly will open a special session Tuesday to approve congressional maps as part of the 10-year redistricting process after the federal census. Republican Senator Ray Rodrigues, who chairs the Senate Redistribution Committee, said in a memo to members that the new card appears to meet constitutional requirements.
“After carefully reviewing the Governor’s submission and a discussion with our legal counsel, I have determined that the Governor’s card reflects standards that the Senate can support,” he said.
In an unprecedented move, DeSantis, who is a potential 2024 presidential candidate, interjected himself in the process by submitting his own card just before the Senate had to approve his card.
During the 60-day legislative session that ended last month, the Senate did not consider the governor’s card and the House approved two cards, a main card to try to appease DeSantis and a second in case the first card turns out to be unconstitutional.
As the House debated his proposal, DeSantis took to Twitter to say he would be dead when he arrived. The Senate then approved the House maps, and DeSantis kept his promise and vetoed the bill.
Earlier this week, Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprows said they would no longer try to write maps and would wait for the governor to do so, essentially giving up. the role of the Legislature in DeSantis.
The decision infuriated Democrats. Rep. Kelly Skidmore, who is the top Democrat on the House Congressional Redistricting Committee, said DeSantis was simply trying to gerrymander to win more Republican seats, and chastised House leaders for letting DeSantis dictate the process. .
“I’m ashamed of them,” she said. She said of DeSantis, “Play my game or I’ll take my ball and go home ’cause I’m a bully and a whiner.”