Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday single-handedly wiped out the Democrats’ national gerrymandering advantage by proposing a map that eliminates constitutional infirmities.
Subject to the legislature’s approval and likely court challenges, the map will destroy all the hard work Democrats’ redistricting machine has created throughout the last months.
The DeSantis-proposed map will yield 20 red districts and 8 blue ones.
Last month Republican establishment House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R) and Senate President Wilton Simpson (R) bucked DeSantis’s original map that would have generated 20 red and 8 blue districts. Instead, the lawmakers passed and submitted a subpar map to DeSantis, which created only 18 red and 10 blue districts. Previous maps designed by Sprowls and Simpson were even worse.
In a letter to the lawmakers, DeSantis’s general counsel, Ryan Newman, said the proposed map “is the product of collaboration and consultation with the House and Senate leadership and draws from the maps that were recently passed by the Legislature.”
With Sprowls and Simpson falling in line, the map is likely to be approved by the legislature, thus reshaping Florida’s political future for the next ten years. Redistricting expert and senior editor of the Cook Political Report David Wasserman tweeted the map would totally destroy the Democrats’ nationwide gerrymandering actions since the 2020 census.
If this 20R-8D FL map passes and withstands court challenges, it could net Republicans four additional seats, entirely wiping out Dems' national redistricting gains thus far. https://t.co/7MU6BaPrDM
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) April 13, 2022
Not everyone is impressed with the map. Leading Democrat election lawyer Marc Elias, who played a key role in pushing for vote-by-mail across the nation during the 2020 election and is supporting Democrats’ efforts to gerrymander congressional district maps, tweeted the map will face legal challenges, presumably because it deconstructs Democrat-designed districts shaped by race.
Democrats have been very successful in the courts. Former President Barack Obama’s one-time attorney general, Eric Holder, has successfully thwarted Republican state lawmakers’ redistricting methods by aggressively gerrymandering House districts via the court system.
Holder’s success is a result of his “sue to blue” strategy, which he implemented after Obama was destroyed in the 2010 redistricting cycle, the Wall Street Journal reported. Developing the plan under the National Democratic Redistricting Committee he created, Holder was influential in causing Republican legislatures to be less aggressive. Sprowls and Simpson have likely felt the heat.
If this map is enacted, Florida will be sued. https://t.co/BZdDWK8sZs
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) April 13, 2022
But DeSantis and his administration are fighting back. General counsel Newman defended the map by arguing race should not take legal precedent over the 14th Amendment provisions of equal protection.
“Because of these adjustments, the new proposed apportionment plan eliminates the federal constitutional infirmities identified by the governor and improves on several metrics relative to the maps passed by the Legislature,” Newman wrote.
Earlier this week, DeSantis also defended his map by citing Cooper v. Harris. The 2017 case was decided by a 5-3 majority in the Supreme Court, which held the North Carolina General Assembly engaged in “unconstitutional racial gerrymanders” by leaning on race too heavily when it drew two districts after the 2010 census.
DeSantis’s map has wide support among conservative Florida Republicans. Former state senator and current Lake County property appraiser Carey Baker told Breitbart News that DeSantis’s map is “absolutely” the “cleanest and least gerrymandered map that possibly has ever been proposed for the state of Florida.”
“We know it will be challenged in court by the left, but any fair-minded court should easily come to the conclusion that this map complies with all state and federal redistricting requirements,” Baker told Breitbart News. “Governor DeSantis is blessed with a state Supreme Court that isn’t an activist court so if this map is considered solely on its merits it should sail through any challenges.”
Rory Diamond, conservative Jacksonville City Council member, told Breitbart News the map is an act of “political courage” from DeSantis. Diamond’s city of Jacksonville will be favorably impacted by the proposed map.
“Governor DeSantis’ map is constitutional and an act of political courage, fighting a half-century of gerrymandering,” he told Breitbart News. “Now we need real conservatives to fill these new seats.”
The state legislature is poised to pass DeSantis’s second map into law next week during its special session.