Chariman Smith on GOP Tactics to Derail Fair Redistricting
August 15, 2011
Dave Bitner, Chairman
Republican Party of Florida
420 E. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Dear Chairman Bitner:
Thank you for your letter. I appreciate any chance to discuss the importance of fair districting in Florida.
First, the facts. Florida, after Texas, is one of the most malapportioned states in the union. This is a fact you frankly mention in your letter, but fail to refute. Florida is malappoirtioned due to a blatant partisan redistricting process that took place in 2002 under a Republican-led Legislature bent on increasing its power. From Florida to Texas, the Republican party has become synonymous with the backroom political deal making that voters distrust.
As you are aware, Florida’s redistricting process from ten years ago was so riddled with confusion and a lack of standards that it led to the Fair Districts’ movement and a resounding rejection of the kind of partisan redistricting made infamous by your party in 2002. If you seek to re-litigate a process a decade in the past, you need not bother.
Last year, Floridians demanded a change. Through a process I helped create, 63-perecent of the people spoke in overwhelming numbers and demanded fair districts – districts where the voters decide, not the politicians.
Your party, the Governor and the Republican Legislature fought the adoption of Amendments 5 & 6 tooth and nail, but the voters prevailed and Fair Districting is now the law. While laying off thousands of teachers, the Republican legislative leadership, in the very same session, appropriated over 30 million dollars of taxpayer money to thwart the will of the people. But we will not be deterred.
Floridians voted to eliminate overt partisan advantage and incumbent protection in the redistricting process. The Florida Democratic Party will work as hard as we can to see that the law of the State of Florida is followed.
Your letter is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to distract from producing the maps and the transparency Florida voters demanded. Instead of writing letters, your party’s leaders should be opening the backroom door and sharing the maps.
Let’s stop the political games. Let’s make certain the will of the people is implemented by this very unwilling Republican legislature.
On a positive note, I was pleasantly surprised at your sudden interest in the redistricting process evidenced by your letter today. Please know that I stand ready to debate or discuss redistricting with you in any forum, at any time, at any place in the State of Florida.
I look forward to that debate.
Chairman, Florida Democratic Party