April 20, 2022 Updated 2:51 P.M. ET
TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – The Florida Senate approved the Governor’s proposed congressional map 24 to 15 Wednesday morning. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.
The map eliminates two districts, FL-5 and FL-10, that are drawn in favor of a minority black population to elect a Democrat in their respective districts.
Both Florida House and Senate redistricting committees approved their versions of the bill Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a map that the Republican-controlled Florida legislature originally passed. He called the legislature’s map “unlawful” and had a new map drawn up that is being considered in a special session this week.
“We have a responsibility to produce maps for our citizens that do not contain unconstitutional racial gerrymanders,” DeSantis said.
The new congressional map gives Republicans 20 supportive districts. The current congressional delegation is made up of 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats.
The Senate Committee on Reapportionment passed the bill 8 to 4 late Tuesday afternoon. The full Senate gave the bill preliminary approval and added two amendments. It’s expected to be up for final approval Wednesday. The House Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee passed the Governor’s map 15-7 Tuesday.
Alex Kelly is the Governor’s executive chief of staff and presented the maps to House and Senate committee members. Kelly said FL- 10 in Orange County does not have a significant amount of minorities to elect a candidate of their choice. That district is 26% black.
“The minority community does not on its own have enough strength to elect a candidate of its choice,” Kelly said in committee.
Kelly continued to say that FL- 5 contains racial gerrymandering and violates the U.S. Constitution. That district spans 200 miles from Jacksonville past Tallahassee.
But Democrats claim FL-5 currently is a ‘minority’ protected district under the Voting Rights Act. Alfred Lawson (D) represents the district in Congress. However, FL-5 is currently 46.5% black.
Democrats claim the Governor is trying to strip away minority representation despite minorities not meeting a 50% threshold in those districts.
“It is disgraceful that this legislative body would be willing to sacrifice black representation at the altar of this Governor’s political ambitions,” said Democrat State Representative Dotie Joseph.
There is minority representation in Congress for Florida. For example, Republican Congressman Byron Donalds represents FL-19 and is black. This district is 68% white and 7% black. It is also overwhelmingly Republican.
“I think the Republican idea is one out that we elect people based on who they are and what they represent, and their qualifications individually and not by the color of their skin,” said Lee County GOP President Jonathan Martin.
“We elected a black guy. It eliminates the entire presuppositions that the Democrats base their worldview on, which is white Republicans aren’t going to elect minorities.”
Critics of the Democrat stance on redistricting point to the lack of focus on Hispanic representation. Census data shows Hispanics make up 26.4% of Florida’s population while the African American population makes up 16.9%.
“If you’re going to elect people based on the color of their skin, why have they ignored Hispanics?” Martin asked. “I will tell you why. Because it doesn’t help their ideology. Hispanics in much larger numbers vote for Republicans than for Democrats.”
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