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Florida Senate rejects plan to alter Miami-Dade congressional districts

Florida Senator Dwight Bullard's attempt to redraw a pair of congressional districts in Miami-Dade did not get far on Wednesday.

Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, tried to change a proposed redistricting map that would shift 35,000 black voters from the 26th Congressional, represented by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, into the 27th District, which is not represented by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.

Bullard specifically proposed shifting Richmond Heights, Palmetto Estates, and West Perrine back into the 26th District.

The Senate voted down the amendment, which would keep those communities contained in the Ros-Lehtinen district.

Bullard's amendment comes days after a coalition of voting groups sent a warning shot to Florida lawmakers, claiming that their proposal for revising Miami-Dade's most competitive congressional district appears to have been designed to boost the chances of Curbelo, who is being challenged for re-election by Democrat Annette Taddeo in 2016.

For the last several years District 26 has had one of the most turbulent election histories in the state.

Curbelo defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia by 3 percentage points in 2014 but Taddeo, who was then on the ballot as the running mate for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, was also popular. The Crist-Taddeo ticket won the district by 5 points over Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera.

In a letter to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida suggested that shifting 35,000 black voters from Congressional District 26 into Congressional District 27, has a "partisan effect" that violates the anti-gerrymandering rules of the Florida Constitution.

Legislative map drawers have said they shifted the communities after being told by the Florida Supreme Court to not split Homestead, which was fully included into Curbelo's district. Because of that, the area's Bullard highlighted were shifted into Ros-Lehtinen's district.

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