JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Governor DeSantis signed a new, controversial congressional redistricting map into law on Friday which set off voting rights groups to sue Florida saying it will diminish the state’s Black representation and benefit Republicans.
DeSantis said he signed it early Friday at the state’s capitol, before traveling to Hialeah Gardens.
Before the announcement at Jacksonville City Hall, two state representatives and others blasted Governor Ron DeSantis and the republican lead legislature for approving congressional district maps that they said silence Black voters.
At issue is Congressional District 5 which used to be spread out from Jacksonville to Tallahassee but now is packed into a segment of Jacksonville and a small part of St Johns County -- an area that is heavily republican.
“You all probably have heard packing, packing, packing, but this map that the governor has presented us it’s not packing -- it is cracking, it is cracking, cracking, cracking the black vote and we have to say it’s the black vote because it disallows any of the black voters in this district to be able to elect the candidate of their choice.
On the other side, local republican representatives disagree and said the maps were fair.
“It was the right thing to do,” Representative Cord Byrd of Jacksonville Beach said.
When asked about the argument that black representation would be lost, Byrd said that’s not the case.
“The assumption that is faulty in all of this is that Black voters would only vote for a Black Democrat,” Byrd said. “And let me make this point because the Black democrats said this on the floor yesterday. That Black representation will go from four in Congress to two. Do you know who they leave out? Byron Donalds, a black man that was voted by a majority white district. And why did they leave Byron Donalds out? Because he has an hour after his name so his skin color doesn’t count to democrats because he’s a Black Republican.”
News4JAX Political Analyst Rick Mullaney of JU’s Public Policy Institute said this is going to play out in court.
“There is no question that lawsuits will be filed and no question that they will be filed immediately,” Mullaney said. “What is not clear this how quickly they can be concluded. It’s highly unlikely it will be done in time for qualifying in June and if that’s the case you’re likely to see the current maps for the midterms come November.”
News4JAX reached out to other Republican lawmakers on Friday, including Representative Jason Fischer, who is also expected to run for congress in the 5th District. We are still waiting to hear back.