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Governor vows he won’t sign a map with ‘an unconstitutional gerrymander’ in it

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis is increasing pressure on Florida lawmakers to tear apart Congressional District 5, currently held by Democrat Congressman Al Lawson.

The Governor’s comments come after the Florida Supreme Court declined to weigh in on whether CD 5 was unconstitutional and needed to be redrawn.

“We will not be signing any congressional map that has an unconstitutional gerrymander in it,” said Governor Ron DeSantis during a press conference Friday.

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The Governor’s comments are the latest in his crusade against CD 5, which runs from Tallahassee to Jacksonville’s urban core.

It is a minority access district, but the Governor has argued it’s gerrymandered.

He proposed his own map in January, which his office has said better respects county and city boundaries.

But Cecile Scoon, President of the Florida League of Women Voters argues the Florida Constitution favors protecting minority voting power over drawing compact districts.

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“Compactness is subordinate, less important, than the tier one,” said Scoon.

And UNF Political Science Professor Nick Seabrook pointed out, the Florida Supreme Court was responsible for drawing CD 5 back in 2015.

“This district was created to correct for a prior gerrymandering violation under the state constitution,” said Seabrook, who chairs UNF’s Department of Political Science & Public Administration.

Congressman Al Lawson told us he’s not sure why the Governor has been so persistent in his battle against the district, but he’s asking the Governor to tone down the rhetoric.

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“Maybe we can resolve some of the things over lunch. I mean, you know, that’s the way it should be done and so we can talk it through. But stop threatening the House. Don’t threaten the Senate,” said Lawson.

It’s not clear how lawmakers will react to the Governor’s threat.

Both chambers’ current maps leave CD 5 relatively unchanged.

They could override a veto with a 2/3′s vote in both chambers, but that’s something they haven’t done a single time since DeSantis took office in 2019.