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Duval groups protest proposed congressional map at State Capitol on first day of special session

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers officially kicked off their special session on redistricting Tuesday and members of the Duval community had a heavy presence at the State Capitol.

That’s because Congressional District 5, which runs from Tallahassee to Jacksonville’s urban core, is at the heart of the redistricting debate.

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It’s a minority access district that connects Black voting populations in Leon, Gadsden and Duval counties, currently held by Democratic Congressman Al Lawson.

This map, which lawmakers are expected to vote on and send to the governor before Friday, leaves Duval with two Republican leaning districts.

Both would have gone for President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Members of the Northside Coalition, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and Florida Rising all came to the State Capitol Tuesday to protest the proposed map, which they fear will dilute Black voting power in Duval County.

Duval resident Nubian Roberts is with Florida Rising.

She told us she sees the newly proposed Republican-leaning districts for Duval County as an assault on the Black vote.

“It’s hard in Duval County for Black families and now I feel like we’re gonna be like completely left out of the conversation,” said Roberts.

The map is the brainchild of Governor Ron DeSantis’ office.

Democratic Jacksonville State Representative Angie Nixon argues the governor should never have gotten so involved in drawing the maps.

“This is an unprecedented event. We see the Governor is overreaching and he really just needs to stop and do his job,” said Nixon.

On the other hand, Republican Jacksonville State Representative Jason Fischer argues the governor’s map is a win for the city, because it will no longer have to split congressional representation with a city 150 miles away.

“Jacksonville hasn’t really been represented by Al Lawson before. He doesn’t show up for work in DC, he’s not showing up to work in Jacksonville,” said Fischer.

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But Congressman Lawson pushed back on the notion he’s unable to effectively serve both communities.

“Last year alone I brought down over $200 million to Jacksonville,” said Lawson.

Lawson argues it’s not just Jacksonville’s Black voting population that stands to lose under the governor’s map, but rather all Black voters in northern Florida.

“You know up here, we have one majority African American county, Gadsden County. So, what are you going to do? Just eliminate what they’re gonna do? You know, who they’re going to vote for,” said Lawson.

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