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Gwen Graham on redistricting: Legislature didn’t do its job

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U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham on Tuesday flunked the Florida Legislature because it failed to agree on a new map of congressional districts after a 2-week Special Session that ended last Friday.

“When you’re given a job to do, you do the job,” Graham said after a Tallahassee news conference about her legislation aimed at reducing infant deaths. “The Legislature did not complete the task put before them.”

Graham’s political future is in question because of a court case over gerrymandering in congressional redistricting, spurred by the 2010 census. Gerrymandering refers to wrongly drawing political lines to benefit a particular party or incumbent.

The Florida Supreme Court ordered U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown‘s district, which now runs north-south from Jacksonville from Sanford, to be redrawn “in an east-west manner.”

That would stretch it into Graham’s territory in the Big Bend and Panhandle, the 2nd Congressional District, almost certainly taking away Democratic votes in Gadsden and Leon counties.

When asked her confidence level about a new map being favorable to her, Graham laughed and said, “Who knows? We are in uncharted territory. But I don’t deal with ‘what ifs.’ I’ll wait to see what the outcome is …

“I do think it’s a shame,” she went on. “We’re taking an ungerrymandered district” — hers — “and turning it into two gerrymandered districts.”

Voters “deserve better,” Graham said.

But Graham also said she won’t join Brown in a federal lawsuit against the redrawing of the districts, saying the various versions of a congressional map put forth so far violate the Voting Rights Act.

“Whatever the maps turn out to be, I will operate under those maps,” Graham said. “I don’t think it is a congressperson’s place to be advocating one way or the other.”

The Florida Legislature ended a Special Session last week to redraw the map but ended without any agreement on new boundary lines.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis is scheduled to hold a hearing at 3 p.m. to figure out next steps in the redistricting saga.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at [email protected]

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