A map from the Florida House proposes that Florida’s congressional redistricting process will see Congressional District 5, currently held by Representative Al Lawson (R-FL-5), eliminated as it currently sits. According to the new map, Lawson’s district would only encapsulate an area in Duval County.
The recommendation to shift the boundaries of District 5 comes from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The rest of the voters in the Tallahassee and North Central Florida area would be incorporated into District 2, held by Representative Neal Dunn (R-FL-2).
Florida State Representative Tom Leek (R-Ormond Beach) said there is a possibility that a legal challenge could void the maps if a court finds it has “diminished” minority voters. District 5’s demographics currently consist of 45 percent black voters, and the new map is projected to reduce the district’s minority population to 35 percent.
In the event that a legal challenge would strike the maps currently pushed by House lawmakers, Leek also said a backup map is being held onto which has District 5 remaining intact. However, Leek said “Ultimately, a court is going to have to decide that.”
DeSantis made waves back in January when his general counsel submitted maps to be considered by the Florida Legislature. No governor had previously made boundary recommendations, as the responsibility is constitutionally bound to the legislature.
DeSantis’ General Counsel Ryan Newman said in January more than one district indicates legal challenges for the DeSantis administration.
“We have submitted an alternative proposal, which we can support, that adheres to federal and state requirements and addresses our legal concerns, while working to increase district compactness, minimize county splits where feasible, and protect minority voting populations,” said Newman.
In early February, DeSantis’ communications director Taryn Fenske said, “Representative Al Lawson’s seat poses legal concerns.”
DeSantis has previously said he would veto maps from the legislature that possessed an “unconstitutional gerrymander,” and the Florida Senate had advanced their own maps, which they began working on last fall, despite DeSantis’ own submissions.
The legislature has until the end of the legislative session, which concludes March 11, to finalize the maps.
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