Florida senators took the floor Tuesday afternoon to begin the process of selecting a new map for all 40 of the state’s senate districts, ultimately giving a thumbs up to a map presented by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, which would alter South Florida’s senate landscape but allow the Coral Gables Republican to keep his Senate seat.
Under the original map proposal, Diaz de la Portilla would have been pitted against two of his fellow senators, Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay.
“What this map does is preserve the three Hispanic seats [in Miami-Dade County],” Diaz de la Portilla told his fellow senators, pointing to a higher percentage of Hispanics in the Miami-Dade as part of the reasoning behind his proposal.
The map passed Tuesday favors Republicans slightly more than Democrats. In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 22 of the 40 districts while Barack Obama won 18.
Obama lost one South Florida seat -- SD 37 (currently represented by Sen. Flores) -- to Romney by less than one-tenth of a point in 2012.
Diaz de la Portilla said he believed the map was the correct move for Florida.
"This the right map for Florida and the right map for Miami-Dade County,” he told senators.
But although the map was passed by a majority of the Senate chamber, some senators had strong words against the map.
Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said he was concerned about the Senate passing a map he thought was unconstitutional. Clemens himself tried several times to propose alterations to the map, but none of his amendments passed.
Clemens and Diaz de la Portilla sparred over the map specifics, with Clemens ultimately expressing his deep disappointment in his fellow legislators for passing Diaz de la Portilla’s amendment.
“I love that we are going to take this amendment,” he told chamber members sarcastically. “Because we have just made this map unconstitutional...the court is not going to allow us to draw a map for any type of political purpose or to protect an incumbent.”
State lawmakers are required to redraw the Senate maps as a result of a lawsuit filed in 2012 by the League of Women Voters of Florida which accused state lawmakers and Republican political consultants of drawing lines to favor their political parties. In July, the Florida Supreme Court ruled state lawmakers would have to go back to the drawing board and create new congressional maps and Senate maps.
The Senate is expected to vote on the amended map Wednesday and will convene at 10 a.m.
Special session ends Nov. 6.