New draft redistribution map in Florida cuts Murphy’s seat up, increases GOP

A view of the historic Old Florida State Capitol building through the pillars of the present New Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.

A view of the historic Old Florida State Capitol building through the pillars of the current New Capitol on November 10, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. | Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE – Democrats and Republicans in Florida had reached a restless ceasefire over redistribution and avoided a major public conflict even weeks after the GOP-led state Senate released its provisional cards.

It ended Monday.

Democrats launched new draft congressional cards published by the Republican-led Florida House, accusing the opposing party of playing political games with the redistribution process. The public friction comes after the Republican-led state Senate earlier this month issued cards giving the GOP an extra congressional seat, but met with more criticism from Republicans than Democrats because it was seen as not aggressive enough.

“Earlier this month, the Florida State Committee on Reaportionment issued draft maps that appeared to be a good starting point that addressed the state’s population shift without turning upside down existing representation,” said Kelly Burton, president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “Today, Republicans in the House of Representatives are using new draft maps to show exactly how poorly they can govern the state.”

Florida House on Monday released two draft cards that would have given former President Donald Trump an advantage based on the 2020 election results: One draft would have Trump winning 17 out of 28 districts, while the other has him winning 18 districts. The drafts are designed to show the change, not to affect the outcome of the election. All four state Senate congressional drafts released earlier this month include 16 districts that Trump would have won.

Trump won 16 of the state’s current 27 congressional districts. Florida gets a new seat due to continued population growth.

One seat that gets special attention is the 7th Congressional District, a seat in the Orlando area held by Democrat Stephanie Murphy. A house card would cut up the seat and give the entire increasingly democratic Seminole County to a district currently represented by Republican Mike Waltz. It also shifts the western border to largely African-American territories in Orlando, covering much of the territory currently represented by the Democratic rep. Val Demings, a black former police chief in Orlando who is leaving his seat to run for the U.S. Senate against Senator Marco Rubio (R). – Fla.).

That leaves Murphy, who is Vietnamese-American, with the choice of running for a seat that is now slightly Republican-oriented, or a Democratic seat whose demographic composition is tailored to a black candidate.

“The second congress plan from the Florida House is a rather remarkable gerrymander. That nuclear weapon # fl07 Murphy’s seat, ”tweeted Democratic data consultant Matthew Isbell. “This is by far the most aggressive plan.”

Democrats had been worried that Republican card drawers would try to blow up Murphy’s seat, a fear that prompted her to consider running for the Senate – rather than re-election – this summer. Unlike the map drafts released by Florida House, each draft map release leaves State Senate Murphy with an undivided district that is a clear performance advantage for Democrats.

Murphy did not return a request for comment.

The house-drawn state legislation cards also provide an advantage to the GOP. The cards retain broad Republican advantages, giving the party 70 of the House’s 120 seats on one card and 68 on another. Republicans have long had a large majority in the lower house of the Florida Legislature, a dynamic that will continue to be built on over the next decade under the proposed draft cards.

House Minority Leader Evan Jenne (D-Dania Beach) said he is “still reviewing” the cards of his Republican-dominated chamber, but said the process has not been transparent.

“They have months / years to draw cards behind closed doors,” he said in a text message. “It’s going to take a while to digest it.”

The house release comes after what had hitherto been a controversial redistribution process in Florida. During the last card-drawing process, Florida faced four years of accusations of unwanted biased influence as well as legal challenges and brought the Fair District’s anti-gerrymandering changes to the state’s constitution of voters in 2010. As a result of the legal battles of left-leaning suffrage groups, the state’s current congressional and state senate seats drawn by the Florida Supreme Court.

Concerned about running against these provisions, the Republican-led Florida Senate published what some Republicans saw as overly cautious cards, and GOP House leaders have been clear to members to avoid politics seemingly affecting the cartoons.

“The House strongly discourages members from having scheduled or unplanned redistribution talks with individuals who have a vested interest in the results of the redistribution process,” wrote the chairman of the House redistribution committee, Tom Leek (R-Ormond Beach), in a note to his members.

House redistribution panels overseeing the legislative and congressional mapping process are due to meet in the Capitol this week to consider the recently announced plans, but the maps are not expected to be completed before the 2022 general legislative session, which begins in January.

After a brief meeting Monday, Senate Senate Select Committee chairwoman Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) said she thinks the Senate will return to consider its House card during the first week or two of it. legislative session. The Senate released another set of maps last week, but they made only a small change that minimized the division of cities but did not affect the partisans’ makeup.

“We have come an extraordinary way in what has been an extremely short time,” Bradley told reporters. “I think we are on the right path to success.”

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