Florida legislature gives DeSantis control over redistricting in unprecedented move
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Florida, with 28 House seats on the line in 2022 (+1 in reapportionment), is in the middle of one of the messiest redistricting cycles in the country.
The state House and Senate released their own maps late last year, both preserving numerous African-American majority districts. The Senate’s redistricting committee approved a draft congressional map on Jan. 13 with near-unanimous support.
Then, Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled his own proposed congressional map, an aggressive gerrymander that reduced likely Democratic seats from 12 to 10 and increased Republican seats from 16 to 18. Crucially, DeSantis completely erased the 5th congressional district from existence, disagreeing with the legislature that the area is legally protected to ensure Black Floridians maintain their representation.
“The northern Florida district is an unconstitutional gerrymander that unnaturally connects communities in Jacksonville with communities hours away in Tallahassee and Gadsden counties,” [DeSantis’ press secretary Christina] Pushaw wrote. “We eliminated this flagrant gerrymander.”
The legislature, in a concession to DeSantis, passed two congressional maps on March 4—a primary map that shrinks the 5th District, but does not erase it, and a backup map that maintains the 5th in its current configuration.
The governor vetoed both maps on March 29, calling the 5th District a racial gerrymander. In an unprecedented move, the Florida legislature announced yesterday that it will cede control of redistricting to DeSantis, allowing him to make and present map(s) to the House and Senate.
“Whatever happened to the separation of powers?” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando. “The fact that the Florida Legislature is just bending over backward to do what the governor wants. I mean, why are we elected? At this point, we might as well give the governor a pen and paper and he will just redraw the maps himself.”
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said letting DeSantis draw his own congressional map signifies the “Legislature has totally surrendered its authority as a separate and equal branch of government.”
- “Judge rejects stepping aside from Florida congressional redistricting case: Plaintiffs had asked federal judge Allen Winsor, who represented the Florida House in the last redistricting cycle, to recuse himself.” Tampa Bay Times
- “The House district under threat from Florida’s governor is steeped in Black history”. WaPo
- “Lets Talk about the Florida 5th Congressional District”. MCI Maps
The redistricting process in Missouri is also stalled in Missouri due to Republican infighting—not between the legislature and the governor, but between the state’s House and Senate.
Missouri’s Republican-controlled House narrowly passed a congressional map in January, preserving the current 6R-2D split. Conservative hardliners in the Senate, however, refused to vote on the House-drawn boundaries and instead insisted on a map that reduced Democrats to just one congressional district.
[Sen. Bill] Eigel’s proposed “7-1” map would have eliminated the safe Democratic district in Kansas City by pairing Democrats there with conservative rural voters…The current congressional boundaries, as well as those outlined in the House plan, split St. Louis County between the 1st and 2nd Congressional districts. Eigel’s plan would have split St. Louis County three ways, between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts.
The 2nd and 3rd districts would’ve paired St. Louis County voters with rural, heavily conservative voters from outside the St. Louis area.
The Senate ultimately passed a map in late March, just days before the candidate filing deadline, that preserves the 6-2 status quo but shores up Republican districts to make them less competitive. Then it was the House’s turn to refuse to accept the Senate map, voting twice to ask the Senate to meet in a conference committee to create a compromise map. The Senate has so far refused, with the candidate filing deadline weeks passed.
Furthermore, just as in Florida, two lawsuits have been filed asking the court to step in and ensure a new map is in place for the 2022 election.
New Hampshire’s redistricting process is held up by a disagreement on the partisan makeup of the state’s two congressional districts.
The Republican-controlled legislature passed a map in January that does away with the state’s traditional toss-up districts. Instead of two competitive districts that tend towards Democrats (indeed, Dems currently hold both seats), the legislature created one solid red district and one solid blue district.
“This map would virtually eliminate two-party competition for New Hampshire’s congressional seats for the next decade,” said University of New Hampshire political science Professor Dante Scala. “It would create a Blue Hampshire seat and a Red Hampshire seat.”
One Republican not on board: Gov. Chris Sununu, who promised to veto the map. “We’re a purple state,” Sununu said.
The governor released his own map in the hopes that the legislature would take it up… they did not. Furthermore, Sununu’s map is unevenly proportioned, making it highly likely to be overturned by the courts should it be approved by the legislature (which is unlikely).
Unlike in other states, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has already intervened, appointing a special master and setting court dates to resolve the redistricting dispute.