DeSantis proposes new Florida congressional map that could undo Democratic redistricting gains

If the proposed map is signed into law and survives a legal challenge, the outcome could lead to “completely undoing (Democrats’) national redistricting gains so far,” Dave Wasserman, who analyzes the House races as chief of The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, wrote on Twitter.

Like previous maps submitted by DeSantis’ office, the latest bid would likely reduce the number of districts where black voters are a plurality and make it difficult for Democrats to win anywhere north of Orlando or outside major cities. .

The map is almost certain to win the approval of the Republican-controlled legislature when state lawmakers meet next week in a special session to finalize a decade-long job of redistributing Congressional lines. of State. Although the state Constitution gives lawmakers responsibility for redistricting, GOP legislative leaders announced this week that they would hand over those duties to DeSantis, ending a power struggle between the two branches of government that has been going on for years. months.

DeSantis had asked lawmakers to dismantle Florida’s 5th congressional district, currently represented by Democrat Al Lawson, which connects black communities from Tallahassee to Jacksonville. He argued it was racist and vowed on Tuesday to replace it with a “race-neutral” neighborhood.

“I mean, we’re not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander dividing people up based on the color of their skin,” DeSantis said. “That’s wrong. That’s not how we governed in the state of Florida.”

DeSantis’ new map would accomplish this by dividing Jacksonville, the city with the largest African-American population in the state, into two Republican-leaning districts. It would also move Florida’s 10th congressional district — an Orlando-area seat represented by Val Demings, a black Democrat currently running for the U.S. Senate — east toward whiter communities.

Republican lawmakers in Florida had previously warned that diminishing the power of black voters would violate the state’s voter-approved constitutional amendment known as Fair Districts, which requires lawmakers to give minority communities the ability to “d ‘elect the representatives of their choice’.

However, DeSantis welcomed a legal challenge, suggesting that the state’s conservative Supreme Court could unravel the Fair Districts Amendment. He has sworn to veto any map that doesn’t break up the 5th District – and did so last month.

Republicans could have teamed up with Democratic lawmakers to override the governor’s veto. Or they could have let the courts decide. But they were unwilling to continue the standoff with their party’s most popular elected leader and eventually relented.

The map would also push parts of St. Petersburg into a Tampa-based district, making it likely that two seats held by Democrats in Tampa Bay will become one.

Matthew Isbell, one of the top Democratic map consultants, predicted that DeSantis’ latest map has 20 districts that would have voted for then-President Donald Trump in 2020 and eight that would have voted for current President Joe Biden. . If those results are predictive of how voters in those ridings will vote in November, that would mean Republicans would gain four more House seats and Democrats would lose three.

The Republicans currently hold a 16-11 advantage in the US House delegation in Florida. The state added a 28th district following the 2020 U.S. Census.

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