Pensacola, Florida
Monday August 20th 2018

Archives

Outtakes 9.16

FAIR DISTRICTS Politics is about power. The party that has the most votes gets its candidates elected. The more candidates a party has in the Florida Legislature, the more control it has over the legislative and congressional districts, since it’s the Legislature that draws the district boundaries every 10 years.

Up until 2000, the Democrats were able to protect their lawmakers and gerrymander the districts to keep their power. The only requirement they had to meet was that the new districts be “either contiguous, overlapping or identical territory.”

The political power shifted in the mid-1990s. In 1994, Republicans gained control of the Florida Senate, thanks to many Democratic lawmakers switching parties, and two years later, the GOP had a majority in the Florida House—the first time since 1874.

The Florida Constitution requires the Legislature, by joint resolution at its regular session in the second year after the Census is conducted, to apportion the state into senatorial districts and representative districts. The Republican-controlled Legislature had its first crack at redistricting in 2002, and it masterfully carved up northwest Florida.

The lawmakers made sure W.D. Childers never returned to their chambers by splitting his district horizontally into two districts and, thereby, giving control to Okaloosa County. The one-time Democratic stronghold, District 3, which had been held either by Buzz or DeeDee Ritchie for 12 years, was gerrymandered to protect Holly Benson, who won the seat in 2000 when DeeDee Ritchie ran for State Senate.

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