In the last few hours, the Florida Senate released its map for their districts, after the courts stuck down their previous map, which didn’t comply with the fair district’s law. And with a look at this newer map, who knows if this one will work either.
First of all, there is one bit of misinformation out there that is circulating, and that is that David Simmons would have to run against Andy Gardiner. Simmons is located near Seminole County (and was from Longwood), which is District 13 (as of the new plan). Gardiner would more than likely run in District 16 (in the new plan), which goes from southwest Orange County all the way over to Hillsborough County, or District 10, which is Brevard and Gardiner’s neighborhood. Therefore, those that claim that Gardiner would face off against Simmons are incorrect.
Anyway, when looking at the districts in detail, the same problem faces the Democrats as it did ten years ago. With this map, Democrats will have nearly an impossible time gaining the majority. Peaking over 15 seats would be considered a major accomplishment for the Democrats (six short of a majority). More than likely, they will have 14 seats or less. Even in places where Democrats are trending, like Osceola County, almost all of the Democratic votes are put in one Senate district, meaning that Osceola County will more than likely have two of its three Senators as members of the GOP.
Another place where Democrats will have trouble picking up seats is in the Tampa area. Two seats right now are toss up seats (17 and 22 in the map released today), but almost everything else is Republican.
So while many of the districts look “nicer”, they are pretty much the same.
But what about the incumbents? Most of the arguments perviously was that incumbents would be safe under the old plan. Again, this doesn’t change at all either.
One tactic that the Republicans seem to have adopted is “borrowing” votes from one district who has a member that is term limited to help an incumbent in another seat. The perfect example of this is Senate District 16 (of the new plan). This district has most of southwest Orange County, which is somewhat Republican. In past, this district was primarily Orange County. But under today’s plan, the district “borrows” votes from Paula Dockery’s old district (the current Senate District 15) and puts them in Gardiner’s district. This would make Gardiner, if he runs for this seat and who has represented Orange County throughout his career, now representing Polk and Hillsborough Counties, which is absolutely absurd. This gives him a safe Republican seat and is easily the most gerrymandered seat in the entire Senate plan. This seat alone should be a reason for the entire plan to be thrown out.
Another gerrymandered district is (according to the new plan) Senate District 2, which is similar to the current Senate District 3. This is Charles Dean’s seat. Just as the current seat, the district goes through five media markets (Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando and Tampa). This district could have easily been split, but this is a pure attempt for Dean to keep the same voters that he had previously.
Another interesting district on this plan is Senate District 10 (as noted in the new proposal, sorry for constantly reminding you of this, damn lottery), where the GOP is purely trying to “pluck” voters to dilute their voting interests. This is the other district in which Andy Gardiner would run (as it does go into his neighborhood). This district goes from Titusville and continues west, deep into Orange County. This is a Republican district. But what is interesting is that this district takes a number of African American and Hispanic voters into it, just enough so that it will hurt other seats, while on the other hand making them a non-factor in this seat. This “plucking” of Hispanic and Black voters makes this district, like the other two, a purely gerrymandered district.
“Borrowing”, “plucking”, call it whatever you like. The fact is that this map doesn’t give the Democrats a chance. Yes, the GOP makes a few seats more competitive, but not enough for the Democrats to win in a traditional election year. A 2008-type of election cycle is the only things that would change these seats, and that is a big “maybe”.
Just like the previous plan, this one should be thrown out as well. It purely protects the interests of the majority party. Yes, the GOP might have thrown us a bone or two in South Florida, but it still isn’t a fair map. Hopefully this Supreme Court will strike this down as well.
Here is a link of the map that I have been referring to in this post, so the numbers to the districts described can be matched up: