Three Examples Demonstrate Absurdity of New Senate Map
The “Extraordinary Apportionment Session” as it was labeled has continued to expose the arrogance of the Senate’s GOP majority and the complicity many Democrats who stand to benefit from a map designed to protect incumbents, maintain a large GOP majority in the body and to thumb its nose at the voters of the state and the Supreme Court. The 31-6 vote in favor of the unconstitutional bill is another black mark on a body that continues to embarrass itself in this process.
Wednesday’s lottery ball exercise which randomly assigned district numbers to the new Gaetz plan created an amusing spectacle which was by design: The Senate is going through great pains to change the perception of the legislation but the reality has not changed. Below we’ll cite three of several potential examples to make this point.
In southeast Florida, the Senate has maintained a long coastal district that takes as many Republican voters as possible in a heavily Democratic area in order to try and save Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff’s legislative career. In the process, the current district of Senator Maria Sachs which is fairly compact and maintains one community of interest has been split into four different districts which quite possibly will be represented by four senators from other areas. Sachs herself faces a decision on where to run or whether to run for re-election.
Continuing upstate, in the Greater Orlando Metropolitan area, the lines of two districts have been cleverly drawn to take in outlying areas and not so coincidentally improve the GOP performance of both districts. This will serve the purpose of keeping both Majority Leader Andy Gardiner and Senator David Simmons in office bucking the overwhelming Democratic trends in the area and openly conflicting with the partisan balance and compactness of the districts passed by the Florida House and approved by the Supreme Court in the same area.
Then there is Northwest Florida where the Senate has continued its practice begun under Democrats to use I-10 as a boundary between a coastal and an interior Senate district, robbing the Pensacola Metropolitan area (Escambia and Santa Rosa counties) of a resident senator and ensuring less populated Okaloosa County, the home of Chairman Gaetz maintains two resident senators.
The Fair Districts Amendment passed with 63 percent of the statewide vote, but in the Florida Senate that only counts for six lonely Democratic voices of dissent. While those six Democrats are profiles in courage the other Democrats who voted for this map and put their self interest ahead of Florida’s citizens and those of their own party should be ashamed.
The Florida House technically could redraw the Senate map if it likes this weekend but will opt not to. Can you really blame Dean Cannon or Will Weatherford? They followed the new constitutional doctrine with great efficiency while the senior and ostensibly more mature legislative body showed nothing but arrogance and disdain for the will of the voters and the courts in the process. The House leadership wants nothing to do with the mess the Senate has created and does not want individual House members messing with the map in order to draw themselves potential Senate districts.
“We may have had an excuse last time but, for this go around, there is none,” said Democratic Leader Nan Rich, “Incumbent protection is written all over the map.” Minority Leader Rich hit the nail in the Senate’s coffin with this statement. If the Supreme Court has the will to enforce the law that a responsible judicial body should, this map will be rejected and incumbents all over state will face of against each other fair, court drawn districts.