Right before New Years, Leon County Judge George Reynolds issued his ruling on the Florida Senate District Map. Reynolds rejected a map drawn for the Florida Senate by Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) and instead opted for a map drawn by a coalition of voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters, who contended the current districts violated the Fair Districts amendment to the constitution.
In his 73-page ruling, Reynolds said the map submitted by Sen. Galvano intended to favor the Republican majority. Reynolds said the plaintiffs’ map best complied with a state constitutional amendment that, in part, calls on districts to be compact and adhere to existing city, county, and geographic boundaries when possible. The court-approved map is the most compact, has the same amount of split counties as in the Senate’s proposed map, and splits fewer cities than the proposed Senate map. The map also increases the number of Hispanic-performing districts in South Florida.
Republicans currently hold a 26-14 majority in the Senate. The new districts will likely lessen the majority held by Republicans. President Obama in 2012 won a majority of votes in 21 of the new districts. Because the map was redrawn, all 40 districts will be up during the November election, as opposed to the 20 seats that were supposed to be up. Reynolds recommendation now goes to the Florida Supreme Court, which has the final say on a new map.
News of the new map is also certain to set off some political dominoes as incumbent Senators and House members review the districts to determine their next courses of action.