The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Senate approves second-try map; here's political look

22

March

After crediting the court with providing a historic road map, the Florida Senate voted 31-6 Thursday for its second and final redistricting map that leaders said will create an unprecedented number of minority members and a more politically-competitive chamber. Story here.

The plan is “a plan sensible to our constituents, understandable to all the members of the senate and faithful to the Constitution,’’ said Redistricting Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, before the Senate voted.

According to a Herald/Times analysis, the plan creates five districts that could elect a black senators and seven districts that could elect a Hispanic and it retains a Republican majority. (UPDATE: Only two senators are drawn into the same district: Republican Sens. Andy Gardiner of Orlando and David Simmons of Maitland. Sens. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale and Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach appear to be separated, based on their home addresses. They were not likely to face off as it was.)

Based on voting performance in the 2008 and 2010 general elections, the map would allow for the election of 23 solid Republican Senate seats, two competitive seats and 15 solid Democratic seats – compared to the current composition of 28 Republicans to 12 Democrats. Click here for our interactive map and a look at how each performed in the past elections.

It is now up to the Florida House, which will meet for three days next week, to sign off on the plan or, if that fails, the Florida Supreme Court could be drawing the lines for them.

The Senate approved its revamped map on a 31-6 vote, after it included an last-minute amendment that keeps Plant City in a Hillsborough-based district and separates two potential Republican candidates for Senate – Rep. Denise Grimsley of Sebring and former Rep. Bill Galvano of Bradenton.

Democratic Party of Florida Chairman Rod Smith said the map will be show to violate the Fair Districts anti-gerrymandering amendments because it not only protects a political party but again protects incumbents.

“Throughout this process the GOP in the Senate have wasted thousands of tax dollars and shown a shocking disregard for Florida’s Constitution and the courts,’’ Smith said in a statement.” It has become abundantly clear that the GOP-controlled legislature lacks the leadership to draw maps that comply with Fair Districts. As expected, we now turn to the courts to enforce the people’s will.”

[Last modified: Saturday, March 24, 2012 10:34am]

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