Florida Democrats offer Supreme Court a Senate mapby John Kennedy | April 10th, 2012
With the Florida Supreme Court set to hear arguments this month on the Legislature’s second attempt at redrawing Senate boundaries, the state Democratic Party weighed in Tuesday with a proposal of its own.
Democrats are offering justices an alternative after concluding that what the Legislature has drawn “reveals an intent to favor incumbents and contains multiple districts that plainly and directly violate constitutional standards.”
Effectively, the Legislature’s round two includes many of the same flaws that led justices to reject its first attempt in a 5-2 decision last month, Democrats maintain. And while justices sent the rejected plan back to lawmakers to revise in a special session, a second turn-down will result in a court-drawn plan.
Democrats clearly are banking on justices seeking guidance with their map-making by reviewing alternative plans that have been put before them.
The Democratic Party plan evenly divides the 40-member Senate along partisan lines — with a proposed 20 seats having a voting history that favors Democrats, and 20 Republican-leaning. The Legislature’s plan before justices includes a 23-17 GOP edge in voting performance, analysis shows.
While the latest legislative plan before justices also only puts two current incumbents in the same district — Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland — the Democratic plan makes three likely matchups, including Gardiner against neighboring Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando.
In South Florida, Sens. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, would be paired. So, too, would be Sens. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, and Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate.
In Palm Beach County, the Democratic proposal also would add a little more political uncertainty.
The Legislature’s proposed central county seat, with a majority black-Hispanic voting population, would be changed to span the upper half of Palm Beach County, from the coastline to the Glades. Reps. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, Mack Bernard, D-West Palm Beach, and former Rep. Kevin Rader, a Delray Beach Democrat, have all been eyeing that seat.
A south county Senate district, already targeted by Rep. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, looks like it stays largely intact, in the Senate plan.