Which incumbents could be forced to face off under the Senate map headed for a floor vote?

FLORDIA REDISTRICTING (2)
Three proposed Senate districts house more than one incumbent.

Amid discussion of geographic compactness and minority effective districts, the Senate maps ready for floor debate will determine 40 senators’ political fates. And the proposal puts some incumbents in the same district as another.

Odds are that a draft map (S 8058) approved by the Senate Reapportionment Committee on Thursday will govern elections this November. The map heads to the floor for consideration Wednesday.

During redistricting years, every Senate district in Florida holds an election, whether the incumbent has completed a four-year term or is just two years off an election. That’s done to guarantee every resident of Florida has representation when the new Senate gets sworn in this November.

In some cases, the bounds on the new map place sitting senators in the same jurisdiction. That means maps may force senators to either retire, move, or run in a Primary against a Senate colleague.

Sens. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican, and Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, appear to be placed together in the proposed Senate District 9.

For Baxley, he’s calmly waiting for a final map to be approved before he makes any decision.

“I’m going to let it mature until we actually pass it. I’m not going to know the final outcome until then,” he said. “There will be somewhere to run, and I’ll be serving some of the district I have now in some way. But I hate to pre-guess the outcome.”

He most recently won election to the Senate in 2018. Perry won election the same year. This election marks the last chance either one can run for a Senate term before they face term limits.

But they aren’t the only ones looking down the pike of a consequential map change.

Rosalind Osgood just won a Primary in the heavily Democratic Senate District 33 and feels excited to get to work with Senate Democrats. But the new map as drafted would put Osgood in proposed Senate District 32 with Democratic Leader Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat.

“I was looking forward to going to Tallahassee and working with Lauren Book, and I was surprised to see maps put forth that put both of us in the same district,” she said. “I am waiting to see the outcome. I would love to have Lauren Book and myself in the Senate together.”

There’s plenty of reason for Osgood to stay in place. She’s in a minority access district, which under proposed lines has Black residents make up 44.58% of the voting age population under the Senate draft map.

The maps have set forth other jockeying in South Florida, with some candidates already announcing shuffling to address the new political realities.

For example, Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, found her home placed in the Senate district of close ally Sen. Lori Berman, a Delray Beach Democrat. Instead of bracing for a primary there, Polsky announced in November she would run in a neighboring district with no incumbent, proposed Senate District 30.

But she’s not the only Senator who could make that move to avoid a different primary. Sen. Gary Farmer, a Lighthouse Point Democrat, lives in proposed Senate District 37. The map also places Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Miami-Dade Democrat, into that district.

Pizzo was elected in 2018. He notes that, thanks to a card draw determining the number of each district, he could actually serve the district for a longer time.

“This is designated as a two-year seat for 2022, and four years thereafter, which means I can serve six additional years, where (Farmer) would be limited to two years.

That’s because Farmer was drawn out of Senate District 34, the number he currently represents. In 2022, the winner of the SD 34 race will earn a four-year term.

Farmer won election to the Senate in 2016, so an eight-year term limit would cap his term in 2024 if he ran in the new SD 37, which only awards its winner a two-year term..

However, he could total 10 years in the Senate if he ran in the new SD 30, which will produce a four-year term. If he won, he’d serve until 2026.

That incidentally helps Polsky too. She was elected in 2020, and could win a four-year term this year and another in 2026 if her electoral success continues (and the maps survive court scrutiny). But the main reason she wants to run in the new SD 30 is it looks the most like the Boca Raton-centered district she represents now.

“There’s others around the edges of it, but I represent the central parts of the district,” she said.

As for Farmer, he’s not ready to make any decision yet. In response to reporting both Pizzo and Polsky had argued they need not face opposition from other senators, Farmer wrote in a tweet: “Very magnanimous of my colleagues from Dade and Palm Beach. But the constitution is clear about considering incumbency in redistricting. And my constituents elected me because I put duty over politics. I won’t be commenting further when we still have more important work before us.”

The maps seem to have presented significant turbulence in South Florida, the most Democratic portion of the state. And that fallout somehow left Miami-area Republican Sens. Manny Diaz, Ileana Garcia and Ana Maria Rodriguez in districts with no other incumbents. In Garcia’s case, the process has drawn Democratic opponents into neighboring districts.

But Sen. Ray Rodrigues, the Estero Republican chairing the Senate Reapportionment Committee, said that’s largely a matter of chance and population shifts. Reapportionment staff wasn’t given home addresses for senators, and the Fair District amendment in the Florida Constitution forbids drawing maps that favor or disfavor an incumbent.

The 2020 Census, though, impacted the process in a distinct way. “They were underpopulated across the board and because of that underpopulation, South Florida actually lost a state Senate seat,” he said. “What accounts for the shifting boundaries in southeast Florida was completely driven by the population.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


2 comments

  • Nick Ireland

    January 18, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    When Senator Book finally has a serious challenger for a Senate seat, her political career will be over.

    She betrayed the Parkland shooting victims. She uses her Senate seat to raise millions for her dubious charity. She has abused the courts, filing SLAPP suits to silence critics. She has a fragile ego that cannot handle pressure that will come from having a serious political opponent and She will get eaten alive by negative ads, and hiding behind her veil of professional victimhood will not help her.

    She is the female Democrat equivalent to Trump.

    • Verdine Burden

      January 18, 2022 at 5:18 pm

      Great review. Thank you son!

Comments are closed.


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