U.S. has been intensely critical of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during the redistricting process.
The Republican governor has maintained that Lawson’s district is asinine, spanning more than 200 miles from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. It was done that way, with a court’s approval in 2015, in an effort to ensure a black candidate could get elected.
Yet DeSantis argues the district is unconstitutional under Florida law, since it does not meet requirements that political legislative boundaries be compact.
On Monday, when DeSantis kept making his case, and had convinced many in the GOP-led Legislature to go along, Lawson blasted lawmakers for “caving to the intimidation of DeSantis and his desire to create additional Republican seats in Congress by eliminating minority-access districts.”
“Previously, the Florida Supreme Court scolded the Florida Legislature for injecting partisan politics into the reapportionment process. Florida voters were hopeful that legislators would have learned their lesson. They did not,” the Tallahassee Democrat continued.
“Again, I am not surprised, but disappointed with the Legislature’s inability to fulfill their constitutional duties as elected officials without political interference from DeSantis.”
Well, perhaps it doesn’t matter which district Lawson ends up in, or how his district is configured.
He’s not spending any time in Washington anyway.
The Capitolist, a right-leaning news website in Tallahassee, noted on Tuesday, “The most recent House of Representatives Clerk’s Office report shows that Congressional District 5 Representative Al Lawson hasn’t cast a single vote in person this year, electing to cast all of his ballots via a proxy vote, meaning that Lawson asked a fellow member to vote on his behalf on the House floor.”
Lawson, The Capitolist noted, is one of three federal lawmakers who have voted entirely by proxy during 2022.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi allowed members to vote this way in May 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pelosi has refused to change the rule, even as the number of new infections has plunged precipitously in recent weeks, despite the fact that almost all members of Congress are vaccinated.
Lawson joins Democratic Reps. Albio Sires of New Jersey and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California as the only ones to cast all 125 votes recorded as of Thursday by proxy.
This is apparently how many Democrats do the job these days.
The House report cited by The Capitolist shows that the first 14 lawmakers with the most proxy votes are all Democrats.
The list includes Reps. Charlie Crist of Clearwater (in sixth place, with 107 proxies) and Frederica Wilson of Miami (ranked eighth, with 101 absentee votes).
The Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial last month, “Many lawmakers have become accustomed to the convenience of voting in absentia, and they want to make a supposed emergency measure an accepted practice.”
The proxy rule was supposed to have expired on March 30. But Pelosi extended it again as the deadline approached. It now expires on May 14.
The Journal pointed out that just 101 representatives – or only 23 percent – did not vote by proxy at all in 2021. That group included 78 Republicans and 23 Democrats.
“Serving in Congress is supposed to be public service,” the Journal observed. “Voting is the core duty of Congress, and House Members should respect the office enough to come to the floor when the roll is called.”
Of course, when he does vote, wherever he votes from, Lawson is as reliably for President Joe Biden as they come.
The Capitolist noted he has voted with Biden 100 percent of the time.
Critics of the governor claim, of course, that he is pursuing a racist strategy by deciding to stick by state law and the Florida Constitution. Besides Lawson’s, DeSantis has objected to the design of another district in South Florida represented by a black Democrat.
DeSantis has countered that the map, as currently drawn, is actually the racist set-up.
“We have a responsibility to produce maps for our citizens that do not contain unconstitutional racial gerrymanders,” DeSantis said recently after vetoing maps approved by the Legislature.
He claimed it violated the U.S. Constitution, and called on the Legislature to do its job and “work with me to pass a legally compliant map this [upcoming] Special Session.”