Florida state senators this week offered a rare indication of bipartisan agreement on a plan to redraw the state's congressional district boundaries in a way that appeases both the state's majority Republicans and minority Democrats — as well as the state Supreme Court, which is keeping a close eye on both parties.
Governor Ron DeSantis intervened at the last minute to scupper what could have been an otherwise smooth conclusion to an otherwise bumpy process, adding what amounts to a new lap to an already-long course just as legislators thought they were on the verge of crossing the finish line, according to the governor.
DeSantis offered his own version of a congressional map this week, which would likely give his party control of 17 of the 28 seats in Congress for the next decade while guaranteeing Democrats eight seats in the House of Representatives.
The remaining three seats would be evenly split between the two political parties if the election were to take place today.
“We have submitted an alternative proposal, which we can support, that adheres to federal and state requirements, while working to increase district compactness, minimize county splits where feasible, and protect minority voting populations,” general counsel Ryan Newman said.
“Because the Governor must approve any congressional map passed by the Legislature, we wanted to provide our proposal as soon as possible and in a transparent manner,” the attorney said.
Democrats, on the other hand, who voted for the Senate-passed bill, expressed astonishment at DeSantis' involvement, which came after the legislature had been working on its own ideas for months.
While Lawson's district will remain a majority-minority seat, the map approved by the Senate is eerily similar to the one that was established by the Florida Supreme Court ahead of the 2016 elections and at least vaguely reminiscent of the district that has been in existence since the 1960s, though it has shrunk geographically as Florida's population has grown.
It is now up to the state House, where majority Republicans have suggested two other designs, both of which benefit Republicans more than the Senate version while maintaining Lawson's district.
DeSantis supporters argue that the Lawson district is an unlawful gerrymander because it runs so far east and west between the two major population centers in North Florida.