Issue #34: Is Florida Redistricting is heading for an impasse?
Multiple legal arguments exist
Well! It has been quite the week for Florida Redistricting news. Ron DeSantis’ request for the Florida Supreme Court to review the 5th Congressional district was rejected. You can read my post about the 5th Congressional District’s history here.
The court declined the request for an advisory opinion unanimously, a pretty big setback for the Governor - considering he appointed several of these justices. This was rapidly followed by the Florida house saying they intended to leave the 5th Congressional district in their current drafts. The state house has now released an updated Congressional draft; which does keep the 5th intact. We now have three maps in play for Florida.
We have the plan that has already passed the Senate, seen below.
We have Ron DeSantis’ plan, which is being rejected by both chambers. Seen below.
And we have the updated State House draft, which is still going through the committee phase. See below.
DeSantis has reaffirmed that he will not sign a plan with the 5th Congressional district retaining its east-west dynamic. This is the most explicit veto threat in Florida congressional redistricting history. Now, a veto could be overridden, or a pocket-veto could be possible. As I made it clear in my quotes to the Washington Post (shameless plug)…. Ron doesn’t actually care about the final result.
If Ron DeSantis vetoes a plan but gets overridden, its fine for him. Conservative anger will be on the legislature. Ron just wants to get credit for the fight. Of course, whether the legislature is willing to so openly defy the Governor remains to be seen. It seems clear relations between DeSantis and Senate President Wilton Simpson are breaking down. However, what Speaker Sprowls wants to do remains up in the air.
However, this may be us getting ahead of ourselves. For any showdown with DeSantis to even happen, the legislature needs to come to agreement. Their differences are pretty big.
Orlando Divides the Chambers
In one of my January newsletters, I discussed how Orlando was a dividing point between the House and Senate. The quick backstory is this. After the 2016 redistricting process, the 10th district, based in Orlando, emerged as a new performing African-American district. It would elect Val Demings over three elections.
The 10th district performs for African-Americans through its Democratic primary. The seat is deep blue and black voters make up the largest voting block in its primaries. The current 10th can be seen below.
The Senate plan for Congress keeps this status quo. The borders have moved in the Senate plan, but the nature of the seat remains.
The house, however, has a much different layout. It is very clear to me that moving the 7th from a Seminole-Orlando layout to Seminole-Volusia is designed to make the seat steadily Republican. However, in order to take care of that political gerrymander, the dem-leaning voters of central/eastern Orange are moved into the 10th. As a result, the 10th gets a massive influx of non-black democrats, while black voters in the western end of the county are cut out. The result is a bizarre 10th that looks like a stetched-out egg.
This seat, while safely Democratic, is now more white than black in the primary. The borders don’t even keep all black voters united.
When this proposal came up in earlier committee meetings, before DeSantis throw a wrench into everything, the House claimed the 10th was not a protected seat under the retrogression standards of the Fair Districts Amendments. This would mean they don’t have to work toward maintaining the seat. However, this is in direct conflict with the Senate; who take the position the 10th is protected.
What about HD21?
The argument against the 10th being protected comes off very questionable considering how the house has treated other districts. For example, the house treated, correctly btw, the old 20th State House seat as protected. HD20 was a black-access district that went from Gainesville to Ocala and had a sizable black population in its primary. White voters have outpaced black voters in the primary in different cycles, but the seat has routinely elected black democrats. The house staff viewed this district as a protected seat.
As such, the the new state house districts maintain black-access seat in the area. The new seat is numbered HD21, but it continues the history of connecting these African-American communities.
If the house considered this state house seat protected, then how can they claim that the 10th Congressional isn’t? The 10th can actually be made even more likely to perform for African-Americans than HD21 can, so if one is protected, the other should be as well. I’m not the only one who has noticed this inconsistency.
The house, it seems, is making a “convenient” decision to not view the 10th as protected.
So what happens now? Well the House is should be holding a committee meeting this coming Friday to discuss their Congressional draft. It will be interesting to see if the 10th comes up and the conflict that looms with the Senate. In my eyes, the Senate cannot back the house plan due to them already asserting the 10th is protected. So does the House cave? Is no deal reached? On top of this, the DeSantis veto awaits.
I don’t know folks, I see a big “impasse” sign in the distance, and I’m not sure it can be avoided.