Issue 36: The New House Redistricting Map and a Duval-only 5th
House tries to appease DeSantis - but fails
Well, here I am on a Friday night writing about redistricting in Florida. Its been another big day for map-making here in the sunshine state. On Friday, the full House redistricting committee advanced a congressional redistricting plan. This followed last week’s meeting of the congressional redistricting subcommittee; which advanced this plan seen below.
So what happened this week? Well the full committee took that map, said it looked nice, and tossed it in the trash.
Thursday night, Speaker Sprowls said new maps were in the works. Indeed they were. The house released two new proposals. The first is Plan 8017, seen below.
The other plan is 8015, also seen below.
So one GLARING difference is obvious between the two; the 5th district in North Florida. In fact, the two plans are identical from the I-4 and down; with the only differences revolving around how to draw the 5th district. As I have covered in-depth in this newsletter, the 5th is an African-American seat that has drawn the ire of Ron DeSantis; who holds veto power.
Despite DeSantis’ veto threat, until now, both the house and senate have not been willing to back the map DeSantis proposed, which takes the number of black-performing districts from 4 to 2.
Lawmakers know DeSantis’ map has no chance for legal survival. I have pointed out, multiple times, that DeSantis does not actually care about the final product. He just wants to look like a conservative warrior.
With the right-wing, MAGA twitter world clamoring for more aggressive gerrymanders, DeSantis is now a hero.
Both of these plans have more Democratic opportunities than the DeSantis map. They are still more GOP-friendly than the Senate’s plans. The biggest differences being a major redraw of the 7th district in Orlando, and different breakdowns in Tampa. However, several of the Trump seats are very narrow, and were won by Gillum in the 2018 Governor race.
A Duval-only 5th
To try and appease the Governor and pass a map, the house came up with an idea, offer a Duval-only 5th; but one that preserves minority opportunity. Plan 8017 attempts to offer this. It creates a Biden +13 seat that is also 65% black in the Democratic primary.
This idea - compromise - or whatever you want to call it - is almost exactly the same as a proposal I made in Issue #33. In that case, I drew a Duval-only 5th in the Senate’s plan.
In fact, both the House 5th and my 5th are nearly identical. See below. The purple is areas in both my and the house’s 5th. Red is in house only, blue is me only.
That really doesn’t shock me though. These borders are the natural way such a seat would be drawn.
So what about plan 8015? Well, the house’s goal is to pass Plan 8017 with 8015 linked as a backup. In essence, if plan 8017 is struck down because it is ruled a Duval-only 5th hurts minority voters, then plan 8015 is the go-to replacement. Read more on that here.
So why would the house be worried a Duval-only 5th hurts minority voters? The biggest issue stems from how reliable the seat is. Remember, a minority district is considered a seat where minority voters have the ability to elect a candidate of their choice. Since black voters are 90% Democratic, this means for partisan layout of the district is just as important as the racial makeup of the Democratic primary.
How the 5th performs in both plans can be seen below.
In reality, the Duval-only 5th is very likely to be consistently Democratic; with African-American voters controlling the primary. However, the presence of times where Republicans won the seat is something that has been picked up on. Republican leaders admitted in the meeting that it might be up to the court to decide on if that seat performs enough.
“Performing seat” is something conservative activists on twitter have latched onto recently - arguing its not a real thing. They argue if a seat cannot be 50%+ Hispanic or black (via the census) - then its not a real minority seat.
I was glad that Chairman Leek doesn’t agree.
This didn’t come up, but my personal support for the long-ways 5th is based in rural black representation - something lost in plan 8017.
Another try in Orlando
During the last committee meeting on house plan 8011, the issues around Orlando and whether the 10th district is a protected black-access seat was a major debating point. Both plans 8015 and 8017 are the same for Orlando. These plans made further changes - aiming to appease concerns raised before. This new 10th does indeed improve minority voting share of the Democratic primary.
The last plan had white voters outpacing black voters in the primary by 6 points. This brings black voters and white voters closer to parity.
However, this is still less African-American friendly than the Senate version, which can be seen below.
The house staff continues to state that they do not believe the 10th district is a protected minority seat. Their efforts to draw a different plan are, in their words, an effort to take concerns expressed at the last committee meeting into account. However, it is not clear these efforts will be enough. I still firmly believe the house is trying to gerrymander Orlando to weaken the 7th district. The Senate, meanwhile, is aiming for least-change in Orlando.
Ron Doesn’t Like the New Plans
Sooooo, the house is making real efforts to appease the governor while also protect minority voting. Well, as I have said, this isn’t about DeSantis being concerned about the 5th being “too long” or splitting counties. His involvement is partisan. This house plan doesn’t give him what he really wants; which is fewer Democratic seats. And sure enough, he doesn’t like the new plan!
My reaction to the Governor’s reaction….
Again, the issue is clear - DeSantis is pushing a GOP gerrymander to appease the hard-right activists. He does not actually care about the final product. Anything less than a gerrymander he might as well veto. Conservatives want to maximize the MAGA SEATS.
We saw the rumbling of this during the committee. Two Republicans: Brad Drake and Cord Byrd, voted against this proposal. Byrd actually gave a whole speech about how even that Duval-only 5th violated the 14th amendment for drawing based on race.
My opinion of Byrd can be seen below. He and his wife are nuts.
As for Drake, well he voted for confederate statues; so you tell me.
Byrd and Drake represent the wing of the GOP that DeSantis aims to appease.
I said this in Issue #34; on February 14th - I think we are heading for a real impasse. I don’t see how that can be avoided now.
Prayers for Ukraine. Give em hell!