Court-ordered redistricting has Sarasota Republican up in arms

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Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2014 5:10 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida lawmakers are back in Tallahassee today, taking part is a court-ordered special session to redraw the congressional districts. But the group isn’t happy to be back in the capitol.

"It's a highly targeted democratic attack on the system itself," says Joe Gruters, Sarasota Republican and former campaign manager for Vern Buchanan. He says the ruling by Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to redraw the congressional districts was all part of a bigger conspiracy.

"What happens is they didn't like the election results, they don’t like losing the elections, so the best way that they could figure to overcome that is through litigation," he says.

The lawsuit was brought by the League of Women Voters. Republicans are accusing the group of teaming up with other groups that have known agendas.

"A lot of people say this is a League of Women Voters movement, the lawsuit was directed by them, but in reality, they were one of several groups,” Gruters says. “The other groups that were involved were the Democrats and the immigration group La Raza."

The League of Women Voters (LWV) disagrees.

"The inconvenient truth is that LWV have been non-partisan, it’s never endorsed a candidate or a party in 93 years, and the LWV have been pushing on the issue of fair districting since the Democrats were in charge, and today with the Republicans in charge," says Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida.

In addition to not endorsing any party, LWV representatives say the motive behind the lawsuit was on the behalf of all voters.

"If we are going to spend the money and the time to go to the polls, I think every voter will join me by saying let’s make sure the districts we are voting in are districts that have been fairly drawn and are constitutional,” Macnab says.

Still, those on the other side of the issue worry about the time allotted to redraw the map.

"When they organically drew the district it took them over a year, they went from county to county, got public input and now they are being asked by a judge to condense all this work into 15 days,” Gruters says. “It doesn't make a lot of sense."

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