Two more state Senate maps were submitted late Tuesday as part of the ongoing Special Session to redraw the districts, which the chamber previously admitted were gerrymandered to benefit Republicans.
State Rep. Matt Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, and state Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, each filed their own map.
A cursory review shows that neither map contains districts that cross Tampa Bay. The six staff-drawn “base maps” now being considered by lawmakers all have districts that jump the bay.
Caldwell couldn’t be immediately reached Tuesday night, but Clemens told FloridaPolitics.com that his map, among other things, splits fewer cities than the other maps.
“I also wanted to draw a map with districts that contain enough minority voters without jumping the bay,” Clemens said. “In every version so far, that didn’t happen.”
The Florida Supreme Court, in a similar challenge over the state’s congressional districts, said districts shouldn’t jump the bay.
Raoul Cantero, the Senate’s outside counsel, previously told lawmakers that the court ordered new congressional districts not to cross Tampa Bay for reasons having to do with minority voting strength.
But Cantero, also a former state Supreme Court justice, said that to similarly fix Senate districts, they had to cross the bay.
Three Tampa-area districts are alleged to have been unconstitutionally drawn: Those seats are now held by Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican; Arthenia Joyner, the Senate’s top Democrat; and John Legg, a Pasco County Republican.
One claim was that Democratic-leaning Hispanic voters from Legg’s area were packed into Joyner’s district to make it a “majority minority” district. That would help black voters elect a candidate of their choosing.