If Gov. Ron DeSantis does not act soon, three South Florida legislative districts will have no representation when the 2022 regular session begins in January.
Elijah Manley is trying to force the governor’s hand.
“This comes at the expense of communities of color,” said Manley, a 22-year-old queer activist running for the house seat in District 94.
On Oct. 15, Manley along with the Harvard Law School Election Law Clinic sued DeSantis for delaying the election process in Florida house Districts 88, 94 and Senate District 33. The current elected officials of these districts are campaigning for the vacant U.S. House seat in Congressional District 20.
Filed in Leon County’s Second Judicial Circuit, the lawsuit states three majority Black districts have been vacant for more than 75 days. It’s a numbers game and Manley said DeSantis is clearly trying to hurt Democrats who are already a small minority in Tallahassee.
“This level of extreme partisanship is not what America is supposed to be about, and is a grotesque departure from political norms,” Manley tweeted.
Manley said DeSantis has moved swiftly in filling other vacancies across the state and his predecessors never took this long to call for a special election. By punishing Black districts, DeSantis is demonstrating the new tactics of an increasingly hostile Republican party, Manley said.
“It’s the era of Trump extremism and DeSantis is propping himself up for a presidential bid by throwing Black people under the bus,” Manley said.
In its current design, house District 94 covers western portions of Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors, including all of Lazy Lake and parts of Oakland Park, Lauderdale Lakes and Plantation. Redistricting will likely change the district’s boundaries, however, and Manley expects more constituents from Wilton Manors and Oakland Park.
SFGN reached out to DeSantis for comment. Email and phone requests were received by the governor’s press office but no comment was provided.