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Two more maps filed for Senate redistricting

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

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.

The maps and their supporting material can be seen here and here on the Senate redistricting website.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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