Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is attempting to remove two Black voting districts from the state, NBC News reports.
According to a source close to the situation, DeSantis wants a legal fight aimed at key provisions in the federal Voting Rights Act and in the state’s Constitution, “that generally prohibits the dilution of minority voting strength.”
To achieve his ambitions, DeSantis is taking on the members of his own party that has sided with him on everything from abortion, immigration restrictions, and limits on classroom instruction about sexuality, gender and race.
Despite the objection of DeSantis, the Republican-led Legislature left one congressional seat in the proposed congressional maps state assembly Legislature which passed 10 days ago.
The governor has promised to veto the legislature's proposals.
DeSantis’ own proposed map, which is unprecedented in the state would eliminate not only the seat held by Democratic Rep. Al Lawson in north Florida but the Orlando-area district held by another Black Democrat, Rep. Val Demings.
Known to fight anyone who defies him, GOP state lawmakers are worried that DeSantis will hop on the campaign trail to tout his agenda.
“This is DeSantis’ M.O.: What he cares about, he cares about deeply. And if you get in his way, he’s going to roll through you,” said state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Tampa Republican. “Members don’t know him and don’t know what he’s going to do. And that not knowing is part of the reason they fear him.”
Brandes said DeSantis is a big challenge for Florida Republicans to take on because of his increased visibility and popularity within the party.
“This whole session was a showcase for DeSantis—a trial balloon for a White House campaign—and nationally he’s a 600-pound gorilla with the possibility of becoming an 800-pound gorilla, especially if he gets his way with these maps,” Brandes argued.
Michael McDonald, University of Florida political science professor and an expert in redistricting, said that the governor wants more Republican congressional seats created in Florida, although the Fair Districts requirements in the state Constitution.
"It’s a win-win situation for him,” McDonald said. “DeSantis wants to stand up for Republican interests because he doesn’t want to be labeled as the Republican who gave control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Democrats. And second, he has a much larger agenda where he’s challenging Fair Districts and seeks to unravel parts of the Voting Right Act.”
Ellen Freidin, a Democrat who founded the Fair Districts political group, said the strategy of DeSantis is due to his Ellen Freidin, a Democrat who founded the Fair Districts political group said that DeSantis strategy is also because he has presidential aspirations.
“This is not just about Florida redistricting. This is about the presidential election of 2024,” Freidin said
Last Friday, Marc Elias, a national Democratic lawyer levied a lawsuit against the state requesting that courts create a new congressional map, which must be drawn every 10 years under the U.S. Constitution. Florida is set to gain an additional House seat for a total of 28.
The suit was filed before the Legislature sent DeSantis the maps and before he could veto them.