TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has submitted a proposal to reshape the state’s congressional map and carve up districts held by Black Democrats, as the Republican takes the unusual step of inserting himself into the redistricting process.
The proposed congressional map, submitted Sunday on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, signaled the governor’s priorities as the state moves to redraw political maps in the coming months.
Governors typically do not submit map proposals but can veto district plans after they pass in the statehouse. DeSantis, who is running for re-election and is considered a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has largely shaped the legislative agenda in the Republican-controlled statehouse this year. His office did not immediately return an emailed request for comment on the map.
Among other things, the proposal dismantles a north Florida district held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Democrat, and would break up a south Florida district formerly held by U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, another Democrat. A St. Petersburg district held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist would also be carved up, under the governor’s plan.
Democrats were quick to criticize the governor’s proposed map and suggested it could not pass legal muster as currently drafted.
“From what I can tell, the governor rolled out his own maps, unrequested, on Martin Luther King Day that will probably end up leaving less African-American representation in Congress,” Democratic state Rep. Evan Jenne told reporters.
Last week, the Senate Reapportion Committee approved a Senate-led congressional map on a nearly unanimous vote, signaling that both parties agree that it is drawn without benefitting a political party or candidate. That plan now moves to the full Senate for a vote. The House Redistricting Committee still needs to approve its version of the congressional map.
The Florida Supreme Court in 2015 threw out the state’s congressional maps, which were drawn by Republicans, in a ruling that said the maps benefited the party and were drawn with the help of state Republican Party consultants.