Florida's electoral map in flux after
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[July 12, 2014]
By Bill Cotterell
TALLAHASSEE Fla. (Reuters) - Florida's
Republicans, stung by a judge's decision to throw out the state's 2012
congressional redistricting plan, remained silent on Friday on whether
they will appeal the ruling that found they conspired to rig the
boundaries to protect the party's majority in Washington.
Republican leaders "would like to exercise all due diligence to
review the order and discuss it with our attorneys before making any
public statements," said Katie Betta, an aide to Republican state
Senate President Don Gaetz, who chaired the chamber's redistricting
committees from 2010 to 2012.
In his ruling on Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ordered
that two of the state's 27 districts be redrawn because they
violated a standard approved by voters in 2010 to ban legislators
from favoring or protecting incumbents.
"This is a major, major milestone for the process and for progress
in Florida," said Deirdre Macnab, state president of the League of
Woman Voters, one of the groups that challenged the redistricting
plan under which 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats were elected to the
U.S. House of Representatives.
"The court found that the Republican consultants made a mockery of
fair districting and that there was a secretive, organized campaign,
a shadow process of map-drawing," Macnab added.
The was the latest development in a protracted legal fight that
began after the state House and Senate redrew Florida's
congressional districts in 2012. Republicans control both houses of
the state legislature.
"What is clear to me from the evidence ... is that this group of
Republican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire
to manipulate and influence the redistricting process," Lewis wrote
in the 41-page ruling.
University of Central Florida political science professor Aubrey
Jewett said the ruling would bolster Democratic strength in the
so-called I-4 corridor running across central Florida.
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One prominent Democrat affected by the ruling, U.S. Representative
Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, said the ruling dealt a blow to black
voting rights. The judge ordered the redrawing of her congressional
district and an adjoining Orlando-area district represented by
Republican U.S. Representative Daniel Webster.
The plaintiffs who challenged the redistricting claimed that
Republican legislators packed as many black voters as possible into
Brown's district, which she was likely to win anyway, so that
districts bordering on it would be more heavily white and likely to
Those districts include Webster's district in the Orlando area. Six
of the seven congressional districts adjoining Brown's district are
represented by Republicans.
(Additional reporting by Barbara Liston; Editing by David Adams and
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