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Issue #32: Read about The Florida 5th District
Big article on my main website. Go read it.
It is a big week for redistricting in Florida! This Friday the House Congressional Redistricting subcommittee will be meeting. This means that by Wednesday we should get any updated Congressional maps the chamber wants to consider. At least that is the plan. Plans can change. Who knows. The big question is, what will any new plans look like?
Will they be closer to the State Senate’s proposal?
Or closer to the Ron DeSantis proposal?
This has been heavily covered by myself and the Florida press, but one of the biggest issues now before us is Florida’s 5th district. The 5th district, the black-access Tallahassee to Jacksonville seat, exists in all current drafts drawn by the state house and state senate. DeSantis’ office contends, incorrectly, that the 5th is a gerrymander. In light of this difference of opinion, I decided to do a detailed write-up of the 5th district.
Don’t have time to read all that? Make time! But fine, let me offer a brief, and I mean brief, summary of this article. Seriously. Read the article. I wrote it instead of going out Friday night.
Quickest Summary Ever
The current 5th district can date its history back to the 1990s redistricting process. It was during this redistricting cycle, a time when computer technology met with new minority district mandates, that some well-intentioned but bizarre-looking districts emerged. In 1992, after the legislature could not come to a final map, the Florida courts chose a plan. CD3, seen below, was a 50% Black Voting Age Population district. It would be won by Corrine Brown.
This seat would only last until a court ordered to redraw in 1996. The district took on a Jacksonville to Orlando configuration that broadly lasted until 2015. See the 2012 plan below.
Then, with the 2014 trial that revealed Republicans had worked behind the scenes to gerrymander the 2012 Congressional map, a new mapping session was ordered. In this case, the Florida Supreme court invalidated the North-South layout for what was now the 5th district. The court specifically sited an east-west configuration as a viable option to ensure minority voters could elect a candidate of their choosing. Lawmakers agreed and all of their district plans included an east-west 5th district.
So why is the East-West district a viable option? I argue that the seat is NOT just about linking Tallahassee to Jacksonville. The middle counties between the two cities also have sizable African-American populations.
These rural African-American voters don’t get the big coverage, but they have a shared ancestry and history with African-Americans in the bigger cities. This is a region that used to be home to a large number of plantations before the civil war. Many of the African-Americans of North Florida can trace their history to these plantations.
I believe the current 5th district represents a unique community. These are voters with shared heritage and contrary to the Governor, the 2.5 hour drive time is NOT too far. In fact, it would take me longer to drive through some of the districts in his plan that it would be to wiz down I-10 or US-90 in the proposed 5th district.
Here is the 2020 Democratic primary in the 5th district. I include all its primary elections in the article.
I delve much more into arguments for or against the district, as well as court precedent, in the article. Long story short, the house and senate say that the 5th district is protected under Florida’s rules against retrogression. The DeSantis plans to get rid of it is nothing more than petty politics, something the Senate has rejected. Guess we will get final word from the House this week.
Go read it!