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Florida Dems Fear GOP Redistricting Will Cost Them More Seats

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


Democrats in Florida are a minority and that minority is liable to grow once the GOP-controlled legislature begins its redistricting process later this year, leaving them further behind and making it even more difficult for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep her iron grip on the lower chamber.

According to Politico, Democrats fear that Republicans will use the state’s massive population growth, especially along the key I-4 corridor, which grew the most over the past decade, as a means of eliminating some of their congressional seats the way Democrats are planning to blot out GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s seat in blue Illinois.

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“To understand how Florida’s redistricting process will dramatically reshape the state’s political lines and congressional map, look at Democratic Rep. Darren Soto’s district along the fabled I-4 corridor,” the outlet reported Sunday.

“Soto’s 9th District, which stretches from Orlando into the communities of Osceola County clustered near Disney World and then along the southern side of Interstate 4, saw the largest amount of growth of any congressional district in the nation between 2010 and 2020, according to a POLITICO analysis. His district now has nearly 1 million residents,” the outlet continued.

That enormous growth, however, makes it much more likely that Republicans, who control 16 of the state legislature’s 27 seats, are going to be looking hard and fast at paring that down during redistricting in a way that will help lock in a GOP majority for years to come.

“When you are in the minority, you are always going to be worried about redistricting and the games the other side will play,” Christian Ulvert, a Democratic consultant from South Florida, told the outlet.

Democrats have California and New York as their ‘big’ states, while Republicans have Texas and Florida; Democrats have been working to flip the two red states for years, but have been unable to do so. In Texas, though, Democrats have made progress: Republican presidents have won the state by increasingly smaller margins since George W. Bush’s win in 2000.

That said, the two big blue states have been steadily shedding population for the last 10 years, largely due to a combination of conditions and factors related to high housing costs, high taxes, and overregulation, as well as social issues like rising crime and homelessness. Florida has gained a congressional seat in the recently completed census; New York lost one, though just barely.

And while Florida gained 3 million new residents between 2010-2020, California’s population grew as it has since 1850. But it fell by 182,083 people last year, the first year of population decline since the days of the gold rush. And in recent years, its population growth has been among the smallest margins in decades.

All said Republicans in Florida will have to follow Fair Districts provisions that voters added to the state’s constitution in 2010 and were summarily challenged in court. The challengers’ maps were ultimately adopted by the state Supreme Court.

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However, as Politico notes, “Gov. Ron DeSantis remade it by appointing several conservative-minded justices, leading to fears that this time around the GOP may have an easier time in crafting a map friendly to them,” though Democrats have said they’ll go back to court again if need be to challenge Republican maps they see as unfair.

One of the districts, Florida’s 13th Congressional, that could go away belongs to current Rep. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-Democrat and former governor who is challenging DeSantis next year.

“…[T]he Pinellas County district does not have enough voters in it now. Expanding it north would likely bring in more Republican voters and it could probably be done in a way that does not violate Fair Districts,” Politico reported.

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