Duval County

DeSantis holds back on congressional endorsements, social justice groups plan protest

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Tuesday, Florida lawmakers will gavel in for a special session on redistricting.

This is the map they’re expected to vote on and send to the governor by the end of week.

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It gets rid of Congressional District 5, which runs from Jacksonville’s urban core all the way to Tallahassee, and is currently held by Democrat Al Lawson.

With Jacksonville looking like it will have two Republican-leaning congressional seats, there’s a new open field for the GOP.

Surrounded by the majority of Jacksonville’s Republican lawmakers, we asked Gov. Ron DeSantis if an endorsement may be forthcoming for what will likely be Duval’s new Fourth Congressional District.

“No, because the map hasn’t passed, and I didn’t draw it. The guys who did are going to testify and kind of go through all of that,” said DeSantis.

So there are no endorsements for any congressional hopefuls yet, at least not before Friday.

While the new map’s passage is in little doubt, it won’t be without controversy.

“We’re not going to let the clock be turned back on us,” said Pastor Darian K. Bolden Sr. resident of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Duval County.

At a protest held outside City Hall, faith leaders, state lawmakers and social justice advocates decried the map proposed by the governor’s office because it would erase Jacksonville’s current CD 5, which is a minority-access district.

“I know that he’s saying things like he wants a race-neutral map, but the issue is that health disparities aren’t race-neutral. The issue is over policing isn’t race-neutral,” said state Rep. Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville).

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The governor pushed back on the idea that his map would dilute Black voting power, saying instead it’s about whether 200-mile-long districts can be drawn to benefit a particular race.

“This whole issue is a serious constitutional issue. I can tell you a lot of folks here, you know when you have someone that’s 160 miles away, there’s been complaints about constituent service and things like that,” said DeSantis.

Jacksonville’s Democratic state lawmakers said they and the groups that protested downtown Monday will bring their objections directly to the Legislature.

They plan to hold a protest at the state Capitol Tuesday morning, ahead of the official start of the special session on redistricting.

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