Florida Legislature Passes New Congressional Map DeSantis Pushed Special Session For

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives passed a new congressional map Thursday that could net the GOP as many as four seats.

The new map would create 18 safe districts for Republicans, eight safe districts for Democrats, and two competitive districts, according to FiveThirtyEight. Florida’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation currently consists of 16 Republicans and eleven Democrats. The state gained one congressional district as a result of redistricting. (RELATED: An Inside Look At The Behind The Scenes Fight To Set The 2022 Election)

The new map passed the Florida House 68-34 and Senate 24-15, both party-line votes. DeSantis previously vetoed a bill that proposed two different redistricting schemes that would have created a 16-12 Republican advantage, arguing that the majority-black Fifth District is an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. The old Fifth District, currently represented by Democrat Al Lawson, ran across the northern part of the state and gave Democrats a 21-point edge. The new Fifth District is located in the northeast corner and gives Republicans a 23-point edge, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Democrats assert that the new maps are racially-biased because they eliminate Lawson’s majority-black district and violate the state constitution by creating partisan gerrymanders throughout the state. The Florida Constitution prohibits legislators from drawing districts “to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party.”

“I’ve had enough of being kicked around in this building and in this chamber and still being expected to smile and shake your hands and engage in conversation with the same people who are trying to oppress my people,” Democratic state Rep. Tray McCurdy said.

After DeSantis vetoed the previously approved maps, state House Speaker Chris Sprowls and state Senate President Wilton Simpson agreed to allow the governor to propose maps that he would be willing to support.

“Legislative reapportionment staff is not drafting or producing a map for introduction during the special session,” they wrote in a memo to state lawmakers April 11. “We are awaiting a communication from the governor’s office with a map that he will support.”

The Florida legislature also eliminated the Reedy Creek Improvement District during the special session. The district was established in 1967 so that the Walt Disney Co. could build the Disney World Resort and act as its own municipal government. Florida Republicans moved to eliminate the district following the company’s opposition to the state’s Parent’s Bill of Rights legislation.

The maps will go to DeSantis, who is expected to sign them.