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Florida lawmakers on Friday approved a congressional redistricting plan that Gov. Ron DeSantis already has said he’ll veto.
The legislation (S.B. 102) was amended to include two maps: The “primary” map would shrink the sprawling majority-Black district currently represented by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D) to just Duval County. A “secondary” map largely keeping Lawson’s 5th Congressional District in place would take effect if a state or federal court invalidates the other one.
House and Senate Republicans said the legislation addressed concerns DeSantis (R) raised when he went outside the normal role for a governor in redistricting and, unbidden, submitted two maps, both of which would have eliminated Lawson’s district.
The smaller 5th Congressional District in the bill’s “primary” map protects a majority-Black district, supporters said.
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Both the “primary” and “secondary” maps include 18 districts that Donald Trump would have won and 10 districts that Joe Biden would have won. The current U.S. House configuration in Florida includes 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Fast-growing Florida added a district in reapportionment.
How many districts the parties win in November (and in the next four elections) will depend in no small part on the national political environment. The St. Petersburg-focused district Rep. Charlie Crist (D) is giving up to run for governor was only narrowly won by Biden, and the president’s lead also would be cut in Rep. Kathy Castor’s (D) neighboring Tampa district.
The redistricting plan would shore up the south Florida districts flipped in 2020 by Republicans Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar.
Control of Congress is up for grabs this fall; Republicans will take over the U.S. House if they net a five-seat gain.
DeSantis’ unprecedented submissions made clear he believed Lawson’s district, stretching across northern Florida from Duval County into Gadsden County, was unconstitutional, said Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R), chair of the Senate’s reapportionment committee.
The two maps being sent to the governor “pass constitutional muster,” he said on the chamber floor.
While members of the House were still debating the measure, DeSantis announced his intention to veto it, increasing the likelihood that Florida’s new congressional map will be decided by a court.
“DOA,” the governor said in a statement posted to his Twitter account.
State House and Senate Democrats questioned why so much deference was paid to DeSantis, and they called the two-map plan akin to “ranked-choice legislation.”
“We are doing it so we can please a governor, so the governor can take what we do in this chamber and challenge the Voting Rights Act,” Rep. Kelly Skidmore (D) said on the House floor. “I thought we were better than this.”
Final approval fell along party lines. The House voted 67 to 47, and the Senate followed with a 24-to-15 vote.