Fighting to save her congressional district, Rep. Corrine Brown publicly addressed two state legislative committees on Thursday and predicted the new seat drawn by legislators will disenfranchise minorities. But Brown, an African-American Democrat elected in 1992 to a heavily Democratic seat, offered no data to back up her claims and instead spoke of racial injustice — from Trayvon Martin’s shooting to the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s current district, which zigs and zags from heavily black areas in Jacksonville to Orlando, has been held up as a poster-child for gerrymandering. Because so many African Americans vote Democrat, her current district helps “bleach” adjacent districts, making them more white and more Republican, giving the edge to the GOP, which also controls the Legislature, where the maps are drawn.
Citing the Fair Districts amendment that were approved by voters to prohibit gerrymandering, the Florida Supreme Court last month ordered the district to be drawn west from Jacksonville to Tallahassee to create a new minority-access seat that has fewer twists and turns. Brown claimed the proposed district only looked minority-heavy because it had a high number of prisons that were filled with African-Americans.
Brown wasn’t pressed for details by the committee of friendly state legislators, many of whom resent that the Legislature was ordered to redraw at least eight of 27 congressional districts by the justices.