Florida's Republican governor and GOP-led legislature are attempting to retain a stranglehold on state government and cement their control in Tallahassee for another decade. Déjà vu 2002.
Just like in 2002, the GOP is ignoring the will of the people. Voters in 2010 overwhelmingly approved the Fair Districts amendments with 63 percent of the vote in a clear demand for a different process -- one free from incumbent protection and partisan advantage.
Let's remember how we got here.
In 2002, Florida's legislature, with Republicans at the helm, undertook a blatantly partisan redistricting process bent solely on increasing their power -- and increase their power they did. Today, Floridians are living with this partisan legacy of districts that make little sense except as means to disenfranchise voters.
Florida has long been a centrist electorate -- a key swing state for both Republicans and Democrats in national elections. In fact, over the years we've sent one Republican and one Democrat to the U.S. Senate. Yet, time and again, Republicans continue to dominate state government -- even though the state boasts more registered Democrats than Republicans. So why is it when we continue to elect both Republicans and Democrats in statewide elections the Florida legislature is dominated by a one-party rule? Simply put, gerrymandering. The very reason the people of Florida demanded a new, fairer process.
While the people have spoken, the GOP refuse to relent without a fight -- appropriating over $30 million in taxpayer dollars to thwart the people's will.
Yesterday, Republicans introduced a bill to give legislators, former legislators and their staff protection from lawsuits. This is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to shield legislators from questions by the court. It's shameful, it's wrong, and we won't remain silent.
Concerned voters, in conjunction with the Florida Democratic Party, have filed a lawsuit in state court to challenge the constitutionality of the congressional map, which violates the Fair District Amendments and seeks to suppress the voice of Florida's citizens. And today, we will challenge the state legislative maps in the state Supreme Court.
Make no mistake: the stakes are high and the far-reaching consequences will leave an impact on both the state and national landscape for years to come.
It's time to give the vote back to the people of Florida. It's time to let the people choose their politicians instead of the other way around. It's time to stop the games and implement the will of the people.
Our vote is one of the most powerful voices we have and we will fight tooth-and-nail to ensure this very unwilling GOP legislature abides by the constitution, as demanded by Floridians.
Follow Rod Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FlaDems