A majority of Democrats crossed party lines Tuesday as the state Senate gave overwhelming approval to two redistricting maps that critics say protects incumbents despite new standards intended to increase political competition.
Seven Democrats joined 27 Republicans as the Senate approved its state Senate and congressional maps by a 34-6 vote. One Republican, Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland, voted against the maps.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos called it one of the Senate’s “finest hours” and joined in the chorus of kudos for incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who shepherded the map-drawing effort.
The maps must adhere to the two new Fair Districts amendments that prohibit incumbency protection, preserve minority voting strength, and require lawmakers to keep cities and counties more compact. If passed by the House and validated by the Florida Supreme Court and U.S. Department of Justice, they will reshape the state’s political lines for the next 10 years.