By Andrew Pantazi
The Tributary

The Florida House and Senate approved a congressional redistricting plan the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to veto the maps.

“I will veto the congressional reapportionment plan currently being debated by the House,” he tweeted. “DOA.”

Despite the governor’s threat, the plan passed the Florida House by a vote of 67 to 47, with some of the chamber’s most conservative Republicans joining Democrats.

Republican Reps. Mike Beltran, Cord Byrd, Brad Drake, Jason Fischer, Tommy Gregory, Blaise Ingoglia and Anthony Sabatini voted against the plan along with every Democrat.

Shortly after that, the Senate took up the plan and approved it. Democratic Sen. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville joined Republicans in voting for the plan.

“There is no reason to believe the court would not accept the map, which

DeSantis’ tweet came even as House Democrats falsely claimed the map was drawn by and supported by Gov. DeSantis.

In fact, DeSantis has argued the Legislature should not draw a district to protect Jacksonville’s Black voters’ ability to elect. The House has continued to disagree, and this proposal draws a Jacksonville-only district that House staff have said should preserve that voting power.

In case a court rules it doesn’t preserve Black voters’ ability to elect their preferred candidates, then the House has included a backstop district that spans from Jacksonville to Tallahassee and Gadsden County, similar to the current 5th Congressional District.

House Democrats have opposed the Jacksonville-only version, saying it diminishes Black voting power.

Some Republicans have also opposed the plan, saying it’s wrong to draw any North Florida district that preserves Black voters’ ability to elect.

Gov. DeSantis proposed his own plan that would’ve drawn two Republican districts in Northeast Florida.

Former labor leader Tony Hill, who served 17 years as a state representative and senator, said he is considering running for the Duval-only version of the 5th Congressional District.

“That is a dream opportunity,” he said. “Serving in the legislature for 17 years, that is very appetizing, to represent Jacksonville. … This is a great opportunity for a Jacksonville person to go to Congress. We will definitely consider it and see how it shapes out.”

Councilman Reggie Gaffney, who is currently running for state senate, said that he also would consider running for the seat. If Sen. Gibson and former Mayor Alvin Brown, who are both rumored to be eyeing the seat, ran along with Hill, then Gaffney said he wouldn’t do it. If it’s just one of them, though, then he would consider challenging them.

“I’m already sitting on a half a million” dollars, he said, referring to his senate fundraising. He said he believed he could continue raising money for a congressional run.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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Andrew Pantazi edits and reports for The Tributary. He previously worked as a reporter at The Florida Times-Union where he helped organize the newsroom's union with the NewsGuild-CWA. He is a Jacksonville...