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Gov. Ron DeSantis draws Florida congressional map that would expand GOP’s edge

Posted at 7:02 AM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 07:46:39-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a new Florida congressional map that would create four more Republican-leaning districts and reduce the number of districts where Black voters are a plurality.

DeSantis' map would create 20 Republican seats and eight Democratic ones based on 2020 electoral data, according to Matthew Isbell, a leading Florida-based Democratic data consultant who analyzed the maps Wednesday evening.

DeSantis released the map Wednesday afternoon, just days after state legislators said they would defer to the governor on the new congressional boundaries. The governor had previously vetoed a map the Republican-controlled legislature submitted.

The map would carve up the state's 5th Congressional District, a largely Black district currently represented by Democrat Al Lawson. DeSantis' map would dissolve the district in North Florida which runs from Tallahassee to Jacksonville into several Republican districts.

The map would also water down the Black voting population in another district with a significant number of Black voters, currently represented by Senate candidate Val Demings of Orlando.

DeSantis’ map would make the Tampa Bay-area 13th District more Republican-leaning by removing voters from Democratic areas of St. Petersburg and shipping them across the bay to the Tampa-based 14th District, which covers more of Hillsborough County.

The current district is a swing seat held by Democrat Charlie Crist, who is also currently running for governor.

In the last round of redistricting a decade ago, Republicans tried the same maneuver by shifting voters from Democratic areas of St. Petersburg to Tampa, but the state Supreme Court ruled that it was evidence of intentional partisan gerrymandering. The court essentially forbade lawmakers from crossing Tampa Bay.

Under the Fair Districts constitutional amendments that Florida voters approved in 2010, legislators are forbidden to draw districts that intentionally favor or disfavor incumbents or parties.

Court challenges appear inevitable, but there is little time to change the map before the August primaries in the lead-up to the November midterm elections.