Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
Published January 6, 2016
TALLAHASSEE — Senate district boundaries drawn by a
voters’ coalition that could help Democrats win additional seats were
recommended Wednesday by a judge over those drawn by Republican state
Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds sent a plan to the Florida
Supreme Court that is seen as likely helping Democrats gain at least two
new seats in a Senate where Republicans currently control 26 of 40
The proposed map also changes the boundaries of all four of Palm Beach
County’s Senate districts.
It would keep the county’s lone Republican senator, Senate
President-designate Joe Negron, of Stuart, in the county — with the
district he currently holds reshaped to represent the county’s far
The map submitted by the Florida Senate would have moved Negron out of
Palm Beach County, into a district comprised of Martin, St. Lucie and
Palm Beach County could see new state Senate districts under a plan
approved Wednesday by a Leon County judge. (Provided)
The three seats held by Palm Beach County Democratic senators also are
overhauled in the recommended plan — potentially setting up a clash
between Sens. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, and Maria Sachs, D-Delray
Beach, who may vie over the same district.
A western Palm Beach County district, including the Glades area,
includes most of Abruzzo’s current district. But it also loops south in
Boca Raton and Broward County, taking in some voters Sachs currently
The central county district now held by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth,
loses Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach, but keeps Lake Worth and
A third county Senate seat would include West Palm Beach and continue
north along the coast to the Martin County line, taking in parts of the
areas Clemens, Abruzzo and Negron now represent.
Abruzzo already vows to run in the southwestern Palm Beach County
district that reaches into Broward — if it eventually is endorsed by the
But Sachs looks ready to square off against Abruzzo there.
“I have already represented more than 60 percent, or more than 280,000
people, in the new District 34,” Sachs said in a statement following
Judge Reynolds’ ruling. “I have fought for affordable health care,
property insurance, veterans rights and safer driving on our streets. I
will continue to advocate for these key issues in Tallahassee.”
The Democratic-leaning seat stretching including West Palm Beach and
surrounding areas and stretching to the Martin County line could draw
Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, as a candidate, and possibly Emily
Slosberg, an attorney and political consultant whose father is Rep. Irv
Slosberg, D-Boca Raton.
Although the map endorsed by Reynolds could trigger battles between Palm
Beach County Democrats, the party’s candidates, overall, are likely to
perform better under it than the boundaries submitted by the Senate.
President Obama carried 21 of the 40 districts in the recommended plan.
The Senate plan had Obama winning only 17 of the 40 seats.
Registered Democrats in Florida outnumber Republicans by almost 400,000
voters, but the state’s House, Senate and congressional districts are
overwhelmingly controlled by the GOP.
Attorney David King, who represented the Florida League of Women Voters
and the state’s Common Cause, called Reynolds’ ruling a “huge
accomplishment for the citizens of Florida.”
In his ruling, Reynolds said the map he endorsed — one of four submitted
by the voters’ coalition — was better than the single plan proposed by
the Senate, because it split fewer cities, expanded the number of seats
likely to elect an Hispanic senator from three to four, and had less
population disparity between the districts.
The battle over what is supposed to be a once-a-decade task of redrawing
legislative and congressional boundaries have proved epic in Florida — a
political brawl played out at the Capitol and in courtrooms.
The latest attempt — begun simply enough with public hearings in the
summer of 2011 — turned densely complex after voters approved
anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendments a year earlier.