TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – From the House floor, Florida Rep. Travaris McCurdy of Orlando joined other Democrats Thursday to protest Gov. Ron DeSantis’ redistricting map, which was approved in the Florida House later that day.
This comes a day after the new congressional map, expected to create more Republican representation in Florida, was approved by the state Senate.
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“We want people at home to know that we are fighting for them. That this is unbelievable that in 2022 we are trying to diminish Black representation in Congress,” McCurdy, a Democrat, said. “This is the people’s houses, not the governor’s house.”
Many Democrats said DeSantis’ proposed redistricting map is unconstitutional and an attack on Black voters.
“It’s not about the color of the skin, but it’s about the lived experiences of people who understand,” said Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere.
The proposed redistricting essentially redraws two majority Black districts here in Florida, including District 5 in North Florida and District 10 in Central Florida.
“So to completely erase the ability for people of color to choose a candidate of their choice, it is against our state constitution, against the voting rights act and it’s purely partisan,” Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.
Supporters said the approved map is constitutional and that you can’t gerrymander a district based on race.
“When we guarantee that a group of people gets to select the candidate of their choice, what we’re saying is we are guaranteeing those who aren’t a part of that group gets no say,” said Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay.
Republican Rep. Joe Harding, of Ocoee, argued redistricting has to be implemented every decade using census data to ensure each resident is represented fairly.
“This has to be done every 10 years, and if we have to keep coming back, or be here for 10 days, that’s what it takes,” Harding said.
Jasmine Burney Clark lives in District 10 in Orlando. She’s the founder of a civic engagement organization called Equal Ground Action Fund and was in Tallahassee this week to oppose the redistricting map.
“Just another attack on the Black community by this legislative body and by this governor,” Clark said. “We must protect Black representation and we have to stop the Black attack on our community.”
DeSantis still has to sign the redistricting bill into law as lawmakers on both sides argue this whole thing will likely have to be settled in court.