After a string of redistricting setbacks, Democrats finally got some good news on Tuesday when Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith struck down the North Florida portion of the aggressive gerrymander enacted by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the GOP legislature last month. Smith ordered the restoration of Democratic Rep. Al Lawson's plurality Black, Jacksonville-to-Tallahassee 5th CD, which would effectively convert the map from 20R-8D to 19R-9D.
Smith, who served in former Gov. Rick Scott's administration and was elevated to the bench by DeSantis, ruled that the GOP plan violates Florida's "Fair Districts" amendment because it "diminishes African Americans’ ability to select the representative of their choice." Republicans will appeal in hopes the conservative Florida Supreme Court is a friendlier forum, but earlier this year that top court denied DeSantis's request for an advisory opinion on the 5th CD.
Privately, even some GOP strategists admit DeSantis swung for the fences in trying to dismantle Lawson's seat since there's been a Jacksonville-based Black access seat since 1992. The good news for Republicans: the rest of the Florida map is certain to stand,
Our subscribers have first access to individual race pages for each House, Senate and Governors race, which will include race ratings (each race is rated on a seven-point scale) and a narrative analysis pertaining to that race.