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Florida Lawmakers Give DeSantis Major Victory On Congressional Redistricting

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Following weeks of wrangling with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the state’s post-2020 Census redistricting, the GOP-led legislature has decided to effectively allow him to redraw the congressional maps.

Should the decision receive the governor’s blessing and withstand anticipated legal challenges, it will set the stage for a very Republican-friendly congressional map, the Washington Examiner reported.

“At this time, Legislative reapportionment staff is not drafting or producing a map for introduction during the special session,” state Senate President Wilton Simpson and state House Speaker Chris Sprowls said in a joint statement.

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“We are awaiting a communication from the Governor’s Office with a map that he will support. Our intention is to provide the Governor’s Office opportunities to present that information before House and Senate redistricting committees,” they added.

The outlet continued:

DeSantis vetoed a map the Legislature sent him late last month after which lawmakers agreed to hold a special session from April 19-22 to draw a new map. The announcement Monday comes as the state is approaching the June 17 deadline for prospective candidates for federal office without a map. The state’s primary election is slated to take place in August.

When he issued the veto, DeSantis argued the map the Legislature sent him violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by preserving a racially gerrymandered district favorable to Democrats. Many outside observers noted DeSantis had been lobbying the Legislature for months to pass a map with more GOP-friendly lines. The Legislature’s map would have likely given Republicans an 18-10 advantage, up from the current 16-11 split, per Florida Politics.

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DeSantis, who is a rising star in the GOP and is running for reelection this year with a huge sum of campaign money in the bank, had previously taken a rare step of producing his own map proposals, one of which would have boosted the GOP advantage to 20-8 noted Dave Wasserman, a national elections analyst for the Cook Political Report.

Florida gained a seat due to population growth following the Census.

Already, though, Democrats have vowed to file suit against the final map in court, no matter what it looks like.

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“Discovery in the inevitable lawsuit will be very interesting,” Democrat lawyer Marc Elias noted on Twitter.

Most states have either produced a final congressional map or have their maps in litigation. Florida, along with Missouri and New Hampshire, have all yet to produce a legally binding map.

Simpson and Sprowls said they were optimistic that they would be able to pass a proposal that would ultimately be approved by DeSantis and withstand legal scrutiny.

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“Under the process laid out in the state constitution, unlike state legislative maps, there is no mandatory review by the Florida Supreme Court for congressional maps. Like other general bills, the Governor has a role in establishing congressional districts of the state,” Simpson and Sprowls noted in their statement.

“Therefore, our goal during the special session is to pass a new congressional map that will both earn the Governor’s signature and withstand legal scrutiny, if challenged,” they said.

For his reelection bid, DeSantis has raised an eye-popping $100 million as he prepares to do battle with a Democratic contender not yet known since the state has not yet held its primaries.

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According to a separate report in the Washington Examiner, this figure may have DeSantis earning the title of the “first-ever candidate in the United States to raise more than $100 million only in donations,” though other outlets point out that former President Donald Trump continues to lead the pack in this area through his Save America PAC.

According to Ballotpedia, the Florida governor “received $109,869,159 in total contributions and spent $13,706,657 between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021,” giving him a very large war chest going into the 2022 election.

“DeSantis continues to be a top draw with the high-end dollar market,” GOP fundraiser and lobbyist David Tamasi told Fox News. “The trick will be to translate an expected November win into a monopoly.”

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