Courtesy of The Miami Herald
Published January 8, 2016
TALLAHASSEE -- It may sound like a simple process, but
the Florida Senate’s random renumbering of all its districts statewide
Tuesday touched off a series of complicated twists that one key lawmaker
said only adds more chaos to a continuing redistricting saga.
Among the impacts:
Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, and Sen. Anitere
Flores, R-Miami, appear no closer to figuring out who is running for
what district in South Florida where both have been drawn into the same
district. Bullard said he and Flores will have to engage in some
“diplomacy” to see if they can avoid a showdown at the ballot box in
Within hours of the numbers being announced, House
Majority Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa, confirmed she’ll run for a new
Senate district that some Democrats are pushing Rep. Janet Cruz,
D-Tampa, to run in. President Barack Obama narrowly won the district
over Republican Mitt Romney in 2012.
Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, confirmed he will move north
to run in another new state Senate district that has no incumbent now
and includes parts of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties. That means
Lee won’t challenge Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, for another district
farther south that includes large portions of the district Lee now
represents in east Hillsborough.
The renumbering is just the latest step in the Florida
Legislature’s three-year effort to redraw its Senate districts after
previous attempts were declared unconstitutional. Last week Leon County
Circuit Judge George Reynolds III approved a new redistricting map but
ordered the Senate to randomly number the districts, as it did Tuesday.
All 40 Senate districts are up for reelection because of redistricting, but
those districts assigned odd numbers get four-year terms, while even
numbered districts get two-year terms that would require senators to run
again in 2018 to get a full four-year term.
The numbers also affect which senators ultimately get to serve for eight
years versus getting an extra two years that could allow them to serve up to
Lee, a former Senate president, is not letting moving get in his way toward
re-election. Lee said given that his current Senate district was split
nearly in half along State Road 60 in Brandon, he had to make a choice: move
to run against Galvano in a district that favors Galvano, or move north into
the new District 20, which includes northeastern Hillsborough, southeast
Pasco and some of Polk county.
“It’s clear the right thing for me to do is remain in the Senate and run in
District 20,” Lee said.
In South Florida, the renumbering did little to solve one of the biggest
questions in Miami-Dade. State Sens. Flores, R-Miami, and Bullard, D-Miami,
were drawn into the same Senate District 40. The winner of that district now
will get a two-year term.
Bullard, first elected in 2012, said he’s not sure if the numbering changes
anything in helping him decide if he will run against Flores, first elected
in 2010, or in a neighboring district. He said his goal this week is to talk
to Flores to “see if a little diplomacy can be utilized” and a general
election war can be avoided.
For Flores, the district could be a problem given Obama carried the district
with nearly 55 percent of the vote compared to Romney’s 45 percent.
Back in Tampa, a big general election battle may be brewing in Young’s
decision to run for the newly numbered Senate District 18, which includes
South Tampa, Westchase and Town N’ Country. Last week Young said she was
seriously considering it, but was more definitive Tuesday.
“The only box left to check is for the Supreme Court to sign off,” Young
said. “But assuming they do so, then I will run for the seat.”
Young could have company in the race as Democrats push State Rep. Janet
Cruz, D-Tampa, to run for the seat because Obama narrowly won the area in
Bullard said the numbering and redistricting is creating some tension, but
admitted there is going to be a lot of good political theater in the coming
“It’s definitely going to make for an interesting summer,” Bullard said.