Voters’ coalition drops pair of Senate maps, leaving court with five plans to review at trial

David King, attorney for the voters' coalition

David King, attorney for the voters’ coalition

The voters’ coalition that challenged Florida Senate district boundaries dropped two of the six proposed maps Tuesday that they submitted in advance of a trial next month.

The proposals withdrawn kept a minority-dominated Senate district in Hillsborough County, without crossing Tampa Bay to include black neighborhoods in Pinellas County.

In his filing with Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds, David King, attorney for the Florida League of Women Voters and Common Cause-Florida, said abandoning the effort to avoid crossing the bay was intended to “narrow the issues for trial and ensure that African-Americans retain their ability to elect candidates of choice.”

The state Senate has submitted proposed boundaries. And the voters’ group now has four maps for Reynolds to consider. A trial is set for Dec. 14-18 for settling on a proposal that can be sent to the state Supreme Court, which has taken over the line-drawing from the Legislature.

Palm Beach County would lose a Senate seat — the district currently held by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart — but retain three districts held by Democrats in close to their current configurations, under the map proposed by the Senate.

But those submitted by the voters’ coalition could cause more political disruption in the county.

The coalition maps keep a portion of Negron’s district in Palm Beach County and make changes to the three Democratic-held seats.

Negron would take in the county’s northwest area. But Sens. Joe Abruzzo of Wellington and Maria Sachs of Delray Beach could be forced to tangle for a district that includes portions of each lawmaker’s current district.

A western Palm Beach County district, including the Glades area, comprising much of Abruzzo’s district, would loop south into Boca Raton and Broward County, taking in voters Sachs currently serves.

Sen. Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth would mostly be unaffected by the coalition’s proposals, retaining most of the area he currently represents in the central county.

The third county Senate seat would include West Palm Beach north to the Martin County line, taking in part of the area Abruzzo now serves. For now, that looks like it could be up for grabs.

 

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