Black lawmakers protest as state legislature backs Gov. Ron DeSantis’s proposal to change the map of the US Congress.
A new map of Florida’s Congress proposed by Governor Ron DeSantis has been approved by the Republican-led state legislatureestablishing a likely lead for Florida Republicans in the US election in November.
The map, which sets voting limits for members of Congress, is expected to increase the number of Republicans representing Florida in the US House of Representatives from 16 to 20. Democrats will lose three House seats , rising from 11 to eight, political analysts have reported. saying.
Democrats protested the new map of Congress as a product of partisan gerrymandering that will make it more difficult for black candidates to run for office.
The Congressional map of Florida was redrawn as part of a nationwide redistricting process in the United States in which seats in the US House of Representatives are redistributed to reflect changing demographics. Florida is adding a seat due to population growth following the 2020 Census.
Black lawmakers staged a sit-in on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives on Thursday as the debate over the maps drew to a close. State Representatives Angie Nixon and Tray McCurdy opened their suit jackets to reveal “Stop The Black Attack” T-shirts and shouted the same phrase.
They sat on the state seal across from the Speaker’s rostrum and were soon joined by other black Democrats and other supporters.
But after a brief delay, the Republican-controlled legislature gave its final approval to DeSantis’ proposed map. The state Senate had approved the map in a 24-15 vote along party lines during a special session on Wednesday.
If DeSantis’ plan withstands legal challenges, it would offset the gains Democrats have made on redistricting plans in states like Illinois and New York. The Republican governor’s plan could see two of Florida’s five black members of the US House of Representatives lose their seats.
State Sen. Shevrin Jones said the maps “trample down on marginalized people.”
“You have to do a self-reflection on whether we are doing the right thing. We just aren’t,” Jones said.
Republican state senator Kelli Stargel argued that DeSantis’ new map would not hurt minorities’ chances of getting elected. “I think to say that these maps, as they are drawn today, are harming minorities, is not accurate,” she said.
“These are constitutional maps. I think they are very considerate. I don’t think any of us who voted for them today are racist or following the direct will of the governor. We are complying with our constitutional requirement.”
Florida’s process to adopt the new map from Congress has been plagued by controversy and legal battles.
DeSantis, who is a possible 2024 presidential candidate, in March vetoed a map drawn up by the Republican legislature that was seen as more politically neutral.
Republican lawmakers then asked DeSantis to provide a proposed new map, instead of revising his own. Democrats objected that this was an overreach of DeSantis’ power.
Republicans rejected those arguments but approved DeSantis’s plan in a reversal of previous institutional roles in the state capital in Tallahassee.
“The governor has always had a role in districting. Not just Governor DeSantis, but every governor in the state of Florida, because no redistricting plan is complete for a congressional map until the governor has signed it,” said state Sen. Ray Rodrigues, a Republican who chaired the Redistricting Committee. of the Senate.
“This map will favor Republicans in 70 percent of the districts,” said Florida Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky.
“But Republicans make up 36 percent of registered voters in this state. So we’re going to have an incredible imbalance in this state, and that’s exactly what gerrymandering is, where the state doesn’t represent its constituents.”
Of Florida’s 14.3 million registered voters, about 36 percent are Republicans, 35 percent are Democrats, and most of the rest are independents who have not registered a party affiliation.