The personal and political conflicts that have divided Florida Senate Republicans for months reached the boiling point on Wednesday as the Senate narrowly approved a redrawn redistricting map 22-18 and two powerful senators used the opportunity to point to each other for the chamber’s mistakes. Democrats united against the map, predicting it would be struck down by the court as a violation of the anti-gerrymandering rules of the Florida Constitution. They were joined by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and three other Republicans. The vote came halfway through the three-week special session the Legislature called to redraw the Senate map after agreeing in July that it had violated the constitutional Fair Districts standards when approving the redistricting map in 2012.
The map now moves to the Florida House, where the House Redistricting Committee is scheduled to meet Monday to review the Senate map and a map submitted late Tuesday by the redistricting challengers.
House Redistricting Committee Chair Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes said that while there were good elements to the Senate plan, he also feared that changes to three Miami-Dade districts raise questions about incumbency protection.
The amendment approved on a voice vote by the full Senate was sponsored by Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Coral Gables. It separates him from the same district he was drawn into with Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami. It strengthens the election chances of former Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who is considering running to replace his brother. And it puts Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Coconut Grove, into the African American district currently held by Sen. Dwight Bullard.