Polk to get Florida’s new congressional district under Senate proposals


Lakeland is said to be part of a new Congressional District based in Polk as part of the first draft redistribution maps released by the Florida Senate on Wednesday.

Due to population growth reflected in the 2020 census, Florida gained a 28th congressional district, up from its previous 27. With the strongest population growth along the I-4 corridor, the four new Senate maps place the new district in Polk County with southern parts of Lake and Sumter counties.

See the draft Senate redistribution plans here, here, here and here.

The redesigned 15th Congressional District, currently represented by Scott Franklin of Lakeland, would rest entirely in eastern Polk County. But the new 28th arrondissement would be safe for Republicans like Franklin, according to Dan Wasserman of the Cook Non-Partisan Political Report. He tweeted:

“These cards would put # FL15 Representative Scott Franklin (R) in the new R Vault # FL28 , but turn # FL15 in a * Biden * headquarters in the eastern suburbs of Tampa – creating a new Dem headquarters. I can’t imagine this will be the ultimate GOP plan in Florida.

Wasserman noted that the new cards are largely free from gerrymandering, as some had predicted. He concluded in his series of tweets that Republicans who control the Florida legislature prefer the security of incumbents to possible court challenge.

Districts of Congress, under Senate proposals, virtually guarantee that Polk is represented by someone who lives in the county. This is especially the case since Andy Ireland of Winter Haven was elected to the United States House in 1977; the only exception was 2019-20, when Republican Ross Spano of Dover represented District 15.

A screenshot of the Congressional District of Central Florida as part of the Florida Senate plan titled 8002. District 9, currently represented by Democrat Darren Soto of Kissimmee, would no longer include East Polk but would retain a Democratic majority.

Below current boundaries, District 15 stretches from suburbs east of Tampa to northeast Polk County and beyond Clermont into Lake County.

Democratic political mapping expert Matt Isbell said the maps proposed by the Senate largely preserved the political balance between Republicans and Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation, the USA Today Florida Network reported.

The proposal would likely give Republicans a 16-12 margin, he said. Currently, the division is 16 Republicans, 10 Democrats and one vacant in a Democratic-leaning district.

The proposals released Wednesday were drawn privately by Senate redistribution staff. The committee director said the four maps “represent compromises within co-equal level two criteria,” a reference to court-approved criteria to maintain an equal population, visual compactness, county boundaries and no not separate cities, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Senators will consider the proposed maps when they meet in special session next week. Florida House has yet to announce its intention to release its proposed cards.

MORE COVERAGE: Florida Politics

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